Rooted in Jesus has had a busy start to the year, with three conferences already under our belts.
In January a team headed by Richard Morgan visited the Diocese of Kitale. 137 clergy and lay readers attended the four day conference, with Bishop Emmanuel present throughout, and leading by example as he identified those he would invite to his own group.
Team member Benjamin Kibara from the Diocese of Butere gave an inspiring report on the progress of the 712 groups now flourishing across his own diocese – growth has been rapid and sustained in Butere, not least thanks to the hard work of Benjamin himself, with the ongoing support of team leader Ben Beecroft.
In February a team from Trinity Cheltenham travelled to Narok to lead a Rooted in Jesus conference for the clergy and lay leaders of the Diocese of Kericho. Bishop Ernest was delighted that the entire clergy team attended, each bringing a key lay leader with them. Team leader Tim Grew reports that there was a high level of enthusiasm and acceptance of the Rooted in Jesus vision, approach and material.
To find out more do visit our blog report here. We continue to post regular news items on the RinJ website and on our Facebook page, so do catch up with those too.
For many years Alison and I led the ministry at Holy Trinity Leicester. Our congregation had people of all ages, but more young than old, including many children. It still does. Since then we have served as consultants and visiting speakers for churches all over the country. We soon noticed that most churches, certainly most Anglican churches, have far more older members than young ones. This is obviously alarming; and it’s now generally recognised that unless something is done most Anglican churches will sooner or later close their doors.
This unhappy picture is confirmed in a recent General Synod report by Jimmy Dale & David Male. They show that out of every 650 children under 16 in the UK, only one is to be found in an Anglican church on a Sunday. Things are getting steadily worse; numbers of children have declined by 20% in the last 5 years alone. However, Jimmy and David also report that nearly 5% of Anglican churches still have 25 or more children on Sundays. With my old statistician’s hat on this means they have what I call a critical mass – and it means that, for these churches at least, decline is not inevitable.
This takes me back to the research project which I began in 2012, when I set out to identify churches which are growing not older but younger, hoping to learn from them what their secret is. I found such churches in cities, towns and villages. The result was a book which I called Growing Younger – it attempts to set out a number of clear steps by which any church can turn things around if they want to, and if they have the necessary courage, faith and determination.
We remain passionate about the need to reach and disciple the next generation – not just here but also through our ministry in Africa with the Rooted in Jesus Junior programme. If we do not reach our children, it is hard to see how our faith will be made available to future generations.
If you have a story to tell which might help others, if your church leadership group would value a conversation about your own children’s work, or if you feel you would like to get involved with Rooted in Jesus Junior, we would be glad to hear from you! Otherwise, we would value your prayers as we seek to play our part in the national desire to turn things round.
We are pleased to announce that we have just published the latest Annual Report for Rooted in Jesus.
2019 has been a hugely encouraging year. Conferences have been held by us and our partners in 8 countries, bringing the total number of people now trained to lead groups to just under 16,000. Translation of the books into the appropriate local languages is an ongoing task, and this year we have produced booklets in a further 5 languages. In the course of the year we have received reports from nearly 40 dioceses.
We are grateful to all those who have given up their time to go on teams, and to our dedicated group of intercessors who pray for each conference as it happens. We are thankful for the generosity of those who have supported Rooted in Jesus financially this year. And of course above all to our hosts, who invite us to share in their ministry – for their trust, for their hospitality, and for the privilege of partnership in the gospel.
If you would like to read the full report it can be downloaded here. Or visit our blog site for a summary here.
For many people the new year is a time for reflecting on what has gone, and looking ahead, and that is true for us too. We’d like to start by bringing you up to speed with EQUIP, the name we use for our work with church leaders. Fifty leaders now meet three times a year in five centres: Chester, Hungerford, Bristol, Derby and Canterbury. At each meeting Roger and John Benson, who lead the groups, aim to share insights from their long years of experience in parish ministry.
The most recent round of meetings covered the subject of making disciples, which we believe should be a focus of all ministry. As Roger and John look back we can think of many people now following Jesus with enthusiasm – people who were not doing that when we first met them. We want our EQUIP group members to have the same experience.
We believe that a church leader who hopes to make disciples must first and foremost be a hard-working pastor, a shepherd of the sheep who knows each one intimately. This is not easy! We know that in every church there are some who do not have it in their hearts to become disciples, some who are not open to learning new things, some who are unreliable, some who simply lack the time. So in our meetings we have been talking together about whether (and how) to challenge such people. We also recognise that some church members have such hard lives that our focus must be entirely on helping them to trust God through difficult times. But we also know that in any church, in any place, there are some who will be able to devote many years to wholehearted discipleship. It is our task and our privilege to find these people and help them fulfil their potential.
Church leaders who wish to make disciples must be able to manage their time well. This means dedicating many hours to working one-on-one with many individuals. It also means that administration, important though it is, must very largely be delegated. We discussed these things in our sessions.
Disciples can only be made in churches that teach the Bible well both on Sundays and in mid-week groups. And disciples can only be made in churches which pray, which make converts, and which have an effective ministry of healing. If a church has these things, it is easy to provide all kinds of opportunities for young Christians to grow into confident disciples; if not, then it becomes hard to help people make progress, however keen they are. All this is easy to envisage but hard to make happen; making it happen depends chiefly on reliance on the Holy Spirit but also on the willingness of church leaders to structure their churches appropriately. We took a lot of time in our sessions to talk about how to do this.
This round of teaching in EQUIP groups is now being followed up by more than 50 one-on-one visits to our EQUIP group members; we too are aiming to be hard working pastors! Each person, each church leader we serve, is unique. We will be listening to each one, praying with each one, and helping each one to make plans. And in a few places we will also be contributing to their local ministry, perhaps by preaching, perhaps by giving evangelistic talks, perhaps by taking teams with us to support evangelism, healing, or prayer.
Ian reflected on his time with EQUIP as follows:
“I have been a member of Equip now for several years. You have helped me enormously to focus on the things that matter most, the things that work and don’t work and how best to go about the Christian ministry in a church. You have inspired us by your preaching and teaching. You have occasionally disturbed my comfort and comforted me when I might otherwise have been disturbed! And always with great clarity. I take away with me your approach to preparing and preaching sermons, running home groups that grow, the importance of mentoring, how to take the spiritual temperature of a church, how to run church services, how to be a healthy church that makes disciples and many other tools that have served me well – and I hope will continue to do so as I move in to retirement.”
EQUIP is led by Roger Morgan and John Benson. To find out more visit our EQUIP page, or contact us by email or phone.
It has been a great privilege this year to share in the good news of Jesus with so many people, both in the UK and in Africa. We are grateful to all who have partnered and prayed with us, and offer our best wishes for a trustful and joyful Christmas.
We have seen the Lord working in many places – but would like to invite you to pray for just one of them as we celebrate the coming of Christ: the Diocese of Kondoa.
Kondoa sits on the eastern edge of the Great Rift Valley in central Tanzania, and it held its first Rooted in Jesus conference last month. It’s an unremarkable place, set in an ordinary rural community whose people support themselves predominantly by subsistence farming. But it faces particular challenges. People have worshipped in traditional ways here for thousands of years – Kondoa is home to some of the oldest rock paintings in the world. And more recently, Kondoa was a staging post on the slave route to the east coast. Today 90% of its 600,000 people are are Muslim. Many have never heard the gospel.
But the Lord has been working in Kondoa. Bishop Given Gaula has been called to serve the diocese as its leader, and he has some remarkable stories to tell. The number of Christians is growing, churches are being planted, and 126 people have just been trained to lead the first Rooted in Jesus groups.
We’ve posted a full report on https://rootedinjesus.blog/. So before you settle down to celebrate the Lord’s coming with your family, why not take the time to ponder on what he is doing among our brothers and sisters in this remote rural district in the heart of Africa – starting with a very special act of incarnation and redemption.
We believe that prayer for healing is a key part of the ministry of those who are disciples of Jesus. We base this on Matthew 10: 7-8 where Jesus instructs his disciples: “Proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.” That seems quite clear, doesn’t it? Proclaiming the good news is our first priority but prayer for healing is not an optional extra; it is an essential part of our calling.
We have been pleased to support the ministry of healing at a number of events this autumn. Roger is often invited to preach in churches, especially those where the church leader is a member of one of our EQUIP groups. He does not always preach about the healing ministry but he does routinely offer to pray for people at the end of the service, always quoting the words of Jesus that if we have faith like a grain of mustard seed we can tell mountains to move and they will move. We suggest to people that if they came to church with any kind of mountain in their lives they should not go home with it, but instead come for prayer. It is not always possible to tell immediately if the prayer has been answered, but in recent times we know of one person whose hearing loss in one ear has been restored, a man with cancer who now has no trace of it left, and someone who is now on top of a serious addiction which has been dominating his life for years. We are finding that God is with us and we are trusting him even more as our ministry develops.
Andrew Evans is the vicar of St Katharine’s Holt, Wiltshire, and one of our trustees. This year Andrew and a team from St Katharine’s have been hosting a monthly meeting as part of their Gateway Christian Healing programme. The vision is to bring God’s healing love to all as a declaration of His goodness. All meetings include worship, a talk, and an extended time of prayer. Each month a different speaker is invited, covering a whole range of aspects of prayer ministry, and in November Alison spoke on ‘I am the Lord who heals you’. There was a wonderful atmosphere as people huddled together to pray, sitting or wandering off into corners, and eventually drifting off late into the dark night outside. The Gateway programme continues next year, and all are welcome – if you are in the area do take a look at their website. Next up is Simon Guillebaud!
October found Roger in Wroughtonnear Swindon where he had been invited by vicar Phill Harrison to lead a parish weekend on prayer. Similar weekends have happened in other churches and proved popular; the next one will be in January in Newcastle-under-Lyme. Roger normally does two sessions on the Saturday; the first of these is on solitary prayer based on Matthew 6: 6 “When you pray go into your room and shut the door and pray to your father who is in secret”; Roger tries to answer the question ‘how do we listen to God in these solitary times and what do we talk to him about?’. The second session is based on Matthew 18:19-20 “If two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in Heaven for where two or three are gathered in my name I am there among them”; the session is about praying together – the aim is to show how to discover the presence and the power of Jesus when we pray in groups. Then on Sunday Roger usually preaches from Luke 11:13 where Jesus invites his disciples to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit; in Wroughton as in other places people came forward for prayer to receive the Holy Spirit and others for healing.
To find out more about our long-standing healing course In His Nameand other resources on prayer ministry, or to think about the possibility of hosting a prayer weekend for your church, check out the links or give us a call.
Finally, we are offering free UK postage on all or publications this month. Our poetry collection makes an excellent Christmas gift, our popular Lent course provides a fresh focus on the work of the Holy Spirit, and our other books and booklets provide a seasonal stimulus to faith. If you would like to take advantage of this offer please place your order through our office by emailing or calling us on 01749 679865.
The fourth National Rooted in Jesus Coordinator conference has just taken place in Tanzania. The conference was hosted by Bishop Stanley Hotay, the National Director for Rooted in Jesus in the Province of Tanzania, and attended by diocesan coordinators from across the country.
Bishop Stanley explained how Rooted in Jesus was first created as a resource to help people understand and practise their faith. “We had no resources to teach with,” he said; “our culture is to talk. We needed a suitable course for Africa, which permits people to talk, not read. If we are rooted in Jesus, the church will be healed.”
Each Diocesan Coordinator gave a report on the progress of Rooted in Jesus within their diocese, many speaking of people coming to faith and experiencing life-changing healing, of churches growing in strength and numbers, of increasing confidence in ministry among members, and increased financial growth. Where there have been challenges, people were able to encourage and advise one another, and plans were made to support and strengthen the programme where necessary.
One of the great benefits of drawing together all the Diocesan Coordinators in this way is that it creates a strong team atmosphere. All of the Coordinators have leadership responsibilities in their own dioceses, and they had much to offer one another by way of encouragement and advice. As Rooted in Jesus becomes ever more firmly established across the Province, this is the group from whom the training teams are now drawn.
The second major benefit of the conference was that it enabled these leaders to pool their experience and think strategically about the future. How can they strengthen Rooted in Jesus in their own dioceses and in those not represented, as well as introduce it to those not yet using it? What are the factors which make for success, and what are the pitfalls to avoid? Should Rooted in Jesus be introduced to the theological colleges? How can they ensure it becomes truly self-sustaining within the Province?
Rooted in Jesus has a long history in Tanzania, and although the task of evangelism and discipleship is of course never ending, Tanzania can be proud of its own track record, and of the gift it has offered to other countries in Africa.
We have posted a full report on the Rooted in Jesus blog.
Rooted in Jesus is published and supported by the Mathetes Trust.
We have just posted a report on the Rooted in Jesus blog from Canon Andrew Evans, who has just returned from the Diocese of Kadugli in Sudan, where he and a team from Bradford on Avon deanery led a Rooted in Jesus conference for 75 leaders. The invitation from Bishop Hassan came last year, but it was only in August that the political situation in Sudan improved sufficiently for the invitation to be confirmed.
Andrew writes that the churches in Kadugli city have undergone a very difficult time in the war, and they described all Christians as being the targets for the military under the previous regime. As such all the denominations have almost blended into one, as the churches clung together in the face of persecution. The Christians in Kadugli were amazed that six white people from England had been allowed to travel there, and they shared that it was an encouragement more than they could put into words that we had come to express our solidarity with them as brothers and sisters in Christ.
The RinJ teaching was enthusiastically received. The delegates readily accepted the need for discipling in the churches and were keen to start the programme. Andrew tells too of some powerful prophetic words sent by an intercessor in Holt, and a number of remarkable healings: “every time we invited the Holy Spirit to come, more and more people were released. This was of particular significance for a man who responded to a word about giving ‘locked up hurts (from long ago) to God’ and that God was ready to take them and replace them with joy. As he was wailing and crying out in response it revealed the release of some very deep and unspeakable pain. The next morning the same man was singing his heart out, dancing for joy up and down the aisles – face beaming with smiles. Most surely God had released him and given him some new peace.”
Roger writes: “Last week I went to visit the EQUIP group which meets in Chester and consists of Anglican clergy from North Wales. John Benson, who leads the group, recently spent a week praying for North Wales. John reports as follows:
“I recently spent a week in Moelfre on Anglesey, praying, seeking the Lord’s direction, and reflecting on the Church in Wales. This arose from a growing burden for the advance of the kingdom of God in Wales. Moelfre was the location of the shipwreck of the Royal Charter in 1859. More than 400 people on board lost their lives in a ferocious storm. The villagers of Moelfre rescued about 40 survivors, and this marked the start of the community’s proud history of heroic sea rescues.
Moelfre today has two large lifeboats and a small boat used for rescues close to shore. In the Lifeboat Station you can see the RNLB Kiwi, poised at the top of the slipway and ready to launch out to rescue those in peril on the sea.
There is another lifeboat in the Seawatch Centre. The RNLB Bird’s Eye used to be in active service in New Quay, but it is now permanently housed as a museum exhibit, cut off from the sea. The paintwork is starting to deteriorate and the cracks between the wooden planks are showing. It looks like a lifeboat. It has been used as a lifeboat – it was launched for 89 rescues between 1970 and 1990 and saved 42 lives. It is no longer seaworthy. It is no longer fit for purpose. It is no help at all if you are in peril on the sea. It is just a museum curiosity.
Perhaps that is a picture of many of our churches today. They look like churches. Some have had fruitful ministries as churches. But today they are as useful in saving the lost as that retired lifeboat at Moelfre. When did we last see someone come to a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in our churches? Last week? Last month? Last year? I can’t remember when this last happened …
Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” [Luke 19:10] He did not wait for the lost sheep to come to him. He went out to find them. Luke reports that in the early church, “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” [Acts 2:47]
Finally, this is what I believe the Lord said to me while I was in Moelfre praying for a breakthrough for the kingdom of God in the churches of North Wales:
I am here I can do this I will do this I have heard your prayers I will answer your prayers Your own eyes will see what I will do Watch and pray
It would be good to hear back from anyone who also has a prayer burden for this part of the world.”
A Rooted in Jesus team has just returned to the UK from Ghana, where we had been invited by Bishop Felix Annancy to provide the first small group discipleship training for the Diocese of Koforidua. It was a first for Rooted in Jesus too, as Ghana becomes the 17th country to introduce the programme.
110 joyful participants turned up to the conference, held in a secondary school in the little town of Kwabeng. We had a wonderful time, with much dancing, singing and laughter as well as a lot of hard work all round. We also attended two celebration services, each lasting nearly 5 hours, and visited Cape Coast Castle, one of Africa’s largest former slave trading posts. That wiped the smiles off our faces, but we were restored by the forgiveness and hospitality offered to us by everyone we met. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve our friends in Ghana, and we continue to pray for the new group leaders and for the diocese as it follows through on its determination to grow.
One of the highlights was talking to Augustine, a young man who started off by explaining that he hadn’t wanted to come to the conference at all, and then….. We’ll leave you to read the blog report to find out more – click here.
It goes without saying that we are immensely grateful to all who made this trip possible – to David Archer, Colin Cooper and Max Cross who joined the team, and to their churches; and to those who offered the prayerful and financial support which underpins everything we do.
Team members Colin, Max and David
To find out more about Rooted in Jesus visit our website.