Jesus doesn’t do lockdown

Rooted in Jesus in the Diocese of Natal

We were delighted to receive a report from the Rooted in Jesus ministry in South Africa, this time from the Diocese of Natal, where Revd Bruce Woolley has written a very encouraging account of how the Rooted in Jesus group at his church continues to meet via Whatsapp. There are some inspiring testimonies from group members, some of whom are finding a much deeper faith than they had before. The world may be locked down – but God is not:
“The enemy has succeeded in keeping places of worship closed temporarily but he has not succeeded in preventing the St Luke’s RinJ from their weekly fellowship via social media. Every Thursday I look forward to spending time and discussing the word of God with my fellow RinJ members. Learning the memory verses has helped me to overcome trying and negative situations during Lockdown.”
We have posted Bruce’s report on our blog here – https://rootedinjesus.blog/.

EQUIP – supporting church leaders

EQUIP is continuing to meet via Zoom, with regular phone calls to each of the 50+ members. God has given us four words: faithfulness, endurance, hope, and promise. We are encouraging our EQUIP members to be faithful to the Lord, and to each of the people and tasks to which they are called. Faithfulness implies endurance, because no one is finding things easy and everybody needs encouragement to keep going. To endure we need hope; it is also true that as we endure then we find that our hope increases. EQUIP members have been asked to write a short hope statement which will then become the basis for our prayers about the future. Hope for a Christian is not wishful thinking because with God our hope is underpinned by promise. God has given several promises about our ministry which is why we know that our hope will not disappoint us.
We have continued to produce a series of spiritual exercises. The first series is for personal use, and the second for group use. The group topics so far are:
Praying together
Praying for each others’ needs
Praying with scripture
Praying with the Holy Spirit

Prepare

John Benson has produced a booklet called Prepare to help churches think through their plans. John covers the following issues:
What is the Lord saying to us?
What are the lessons we have learned?
What are we preparing for?
Where do we begin?
John reminds us of something C.S. Lewis said: “God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Again, do let us know if you’d like a copy.
Posted 11th August 2020

Lesotho Diocese hosts a Rooted in Jesus refresher workshop

We have just received a report from Revd Dr Joseph Morenammele of the Diocese of Lesotho in Southern Africa, where a refresher workshop for Rooted in Jesus was held in June. Joseph says: “The training went very well with 39 attending from 5 parishes. The guide provided by Growing the Church was very helpful in running the day’s programme. Parishes were given opportunity to report on what they have been doing since the training they had in 2019. A lot was shared, being both positive and negative. It was very encouraging to hear from people who had divided into small groups about the ministry that they had been exercising in their parishes in the meanwhile.”

Lesotho RinJ training June 2020
Participants take a break in the sun

To find out more about this event and about the ambitious digital ministry being developed by Growing the Church do visit our blog site.
Posted 14th July 2020

An update from Rooted in Jesus

News from Madagascar

The Church of Good Samaritan in Paoli (US) were able to include a video interview with Bishop Todd McGregor of The Diocese of Toliara in a recent live-stream service. Good Sam’s Rector Richard Morgan is one of our Rooted in Jesus team leaders, and travelled with Rooted in Jesus to Toliara back in 2013. Bishop Todd says that the diocese has  now grown from 11 churches to 110, and that there are perhaps 200 Rooted in Jesus groups meeting across the diocese. He also shares some of the hardship caused by the coronavirus measures, and asks for our continued prayers. To find out more click HERE.

+Todd May 2020

New editions and translations of Rooted in Jesus

We have been using the time afforded to us by the coronavirus restrictions to press on with new translations and editions of Rooted in Jesus. Thanks to the hard work of our partners, we have been able to format the translations into our house style, and the following books are now available:
  • Rooted in Jesus Book 1 in Thok Naath, the local language of the new Diocese of Gambella in Ethiopia, where groups are already meeting following the conferences held earlier in the year
  • Rooted in Jesus Book 1 in Masai – this is an updated edition for Tanzania and Kenya, incorporating the changes made since the original translation back in 2005
  • Rooted in Jesus Junior Team Manual, Swahili edition, now going to press for the first time in Arusha, for team members and diocesan coordinators in Tanzania
  • Rooted in Jesus Junior Books 1 and 2 in French, with books 2-6 to follow – for use in DR Congo and in Burundi
  • Rooted in Jesus Junior books 5 and 6 in Swahili – these have now been printed in Arusha, and are available from the RinJ office there to dioceses already implementing the programme

These are difficult times, but we continue to place our trust in God, and to thank him for his many blessings.
Posted 1st June 2020 by Jessica Lewin

Ministry in difficult times

As we continue to seek the Lord here at home, we want to encourage you to pray for our brothers and sisters in Africa as they face the likelihood of the coronavirus spreading through their communities. People in many African countries are now being required to remain at home, and to refrain from gathering together in churches and church groups; and the reality is that many cannot remain at home unless they are also prepared to starve at home. Bishops and Rooted in Jesus coordinators have shared with us that people are suffering from fear and confusion, lacking information, finding it hard to get food, falling prey to conspiracy theories and false stories of cures, and worried for the future. But they tell us too that they are remaining steadfast in prayer, and encourage us to do the same. Please, one person wrote from Tanzania, whenever you pray don’t forget that we pray for you too.

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A moving and encouraging report from Uganda

Many of us are seeking as ever to place our trust in the Lord, to thank him for our blessings, and to minister to others in whatever way we can. People seem open to talking about God, people tell us from around the country; and we are finding ourselves having some surprising conversations here in Somerset too, as we set out to buy our food or take our daily walk.
We have just published a moving and encouraging report from Uganda on our blog. It’s from a pastor named John, called to plant a new church in a remote area with no Christian tradition, sharing his challenges, his blessings and his prayers for us all as in our own ways we face the new coronvirus situation. Whatever difficulties we face, John faces more – and he does all this with very few resources. Read what he says here.

Moving forward together

Here at the Mathetes Trust we are working together on new books and translations for Rooted in Jesus. We are about to publish the Rooted in Jesus Junior Team Manual in Swahili, thanks to Gaspar and Abel in Tanzania who have translated it. Rooted in Jesus Junior is being translated into French, and we have started to work on Rooted in Jesus Book 5, which will be a transitional book which aims to help those who have completed the course continue to grow in their faith together as they minister to others. Translations into other languages are ongoing. Perhaps the Lord is enabling us to dig new foundations for the future.
So let us continue to remain rooted and grounded in the love of Christ. And let us be encouraged by John, who reminds us: “There are big missions and little missions. There are missions that require our skills and expertise and missions that require only a smile and a kind word.” The little ones, we can all do.
Posted 17th April 2020 by Alison Morgan

Staying at Home

‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven,’ Solomon famously wrote in Ecclesiastes. Well, we are living in a very particular season – having spent all our lives listening to the voices which tell us that it is important to keep busy, suddenly we are all being told not to be so busy after all. What to do?

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Two centuries ago the essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson offered this guidance:  “This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it.”  We would like to suggest some things which you may like to do with it – in particular, some books that you may like to read. Having spent most of her life engrossed in a book, Alison Morgan has chosen five – a topical one offering a Christian perspective on the coronavirus, a theological one on the life of Jesus, a cheeringly pastoral one on birdwatching in times of crisis, one which suggests twelve modern women writers you may not have discovered yet, and one which is, well, just very funny.

 

TOPICAL

Where is God in a Coronavirus World, by John Lennox

The Good Book Company 2020
LennoxWe are living through a unique, era-defining period. Many of our old certainties have gone, whatever our view of the world and whatever our beliefs. Whether you are a Christian or not, the coronavirus pandemic is perplexing and unsettling for all of us. How do we begin to think it through and cope with it?
Katy Morgan is an editor with The Good Book Company, and tells us that just this week they have published a short book by John Lennox – the first Christian response to the current pandemic. John is an Oxford mathematics professor and well known writer on topics to do with science and faith. He writes in an easily accessible, conversational style:
‘It is quite surreal. Here I am, in my mid-seventies, sitting at home with my wife, watching a government health minister on television informing us that we may have to remain confined to our home in self-isolation for up to four months in order to try to avoid the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the world. It is hard to grasp that this pandemic has the potential to be the worst ever, and that all our current estimates of its impact are likely to fall far short of the reality. Its scale and scope sound like something out of a dystopian movie. And yet it is really happening…’
To find out more or to order a copy (now just £1.50!) visit www.thegoodbook.co.uk/where-is-god-in-a-coronavirus-world

PASTORAL

Waiting for the Albino Dunnock: How Birds Can Change Your Life, by Rosamond Richardson

Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2017
RichardsonThe poet RS Thomas said, while waiting to catch a glimpse of a rare albino dunnock, that ‘Waiting for birds is like waiting for God, but I don’t think I’d wait three hours for God.’ When Rosamond Richardson’s life went wrong, she found unexpected solace in birds. In this peaceful, meditative book she shares how she learned how to just sit and watch, making peace with the world, with herself and with God.
At the end of a year she wrote: ‘My year with birds had come full circle. New worlds had opened up to me, I’d learned more than I could ever have imagined about birds as physical and metaphysical beings, their ways and their history and their beauty. The mirror they held up helped me see my own life in new ways, teaching me as much about myself as about them. Waiting for birds and watching birds, I’d picked myself up and realised how interconnected and part of a continuum we all are, and of how beautiful and mysterious life is in its micro-detail and macro-immensity. I came to understand what it means to be human in relationship to nature, how wildness is embedded in the human psyche, and how the consolation of beauty is central to our mental and emotional wellbeing.’ She called it ‘ornitheology.’
I’ve always birdwatched, and birds are an integral part of my faith – indeed, I have one sitting here on my shoulder as I write. If this is a joy you have yet to discover, perhaps now is the time, with Rosamond as your guide.

 

THEOLOGICAL

The Stature of Waiting, by WH Vanstone

Dartman, Longman & Todd, new edition 2004
VanstoneVanstone’s classic work looks at the life of Jesus and suggests that it has two distinct phases, active and passive. We live in a world which values the active life, he says; and yet we have much to learn from Jesus, whose passivity in the second half of his short life was as powerful as his activity in the first.
Now is a time for waiting if ever there was one, and Vanstone helps us to understand the value of waiting. By waiting we become aware of our needs, and of powers and qualities in the world which otherwise would go unrecognised. Christian waiting it is a corrective to the public presupposition that human dignity is bound up with human activity, with initiating and creating and achieving and earning. We are creators with God, but also we must learn to wait with God. It’s a book for our times, I think!
For a summary click here.

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL

Twelve Great Spiritual Writers, by Liz Hoare

SPCK 2020
HoareLiz Hoare is Tutor for Spiritual Formation and Dean for Women at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. If you are looking for something new to read, her recent book may tempt you. Each chapter profiles the work of one woman whose writings have touched Liz’s heart, illuminated her mind and sharpened her spiritual vision – novelists, poets, preachers, philosophers and theologians. Each, she suggests,  contributes something special to our understanding of the spiritual life today.
The writers profiled are Sarah Clarkson, Annie Dillard, Margaret Guenther, Ann Lamott, Ann Lewin, Margaret Magdalen, Kathleen Norris, Alison Morgan, Mary Oliver, Marilynne Robinson, Barbara Brown Taylor and Benedicta Ward.

 

HUMOROUS

The Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennett

Faber & Faber 2008
BennettThis delighted me when I first read it. The ‘Uncommon Reader’ is of course the Queen, who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library visiting Buckingham Palace. She becomes addicted to reading – ‘Now where’s my book?’ is the leitmotif of the novel. We journey with her through a cornucopia of writers, and watch her values change as she reads – her reading is subversive. She becomes less inclined to accept the advice of those who have been used to giving it, and begins to question the status quo. We emerge full of respect for a Queen who we suspect has very little time for reading, and chuckling to ourselves at the thought of a world turned upside down. Which, of course, it is. The book is very, very funny – and as we know, laughter is good for the bones (Proverbs 17.22).
For more ideas visit Alison’s website, where you will find a synopsis of over 150 books you might like to try!
Posted 8th April 2020

 

 

Rooted in Jesus goes to Ethiopia

A Rooted in Jesus team has recently returned from Ethiopia, where we were delighted to be invited to provide the first Rooted in Jesus training for the forthcoming Diocese of Gambella in the new Anglican Province of Alexandria. Team leader Bishop Martin Breytenbach reports:
“It was a privilege and joy to bring Rooted in Jesus to Ethiopia for the first time. The local and visiting teams agreed that the conference went really well, and that God can use Rooted in Jesus to establish firm foundations and deep roots for disciple-making in the Anglican Church there. The team was excited and encouraged by the real thirst for the Word of God; and the participants’ desire to engage with God and grow as disciples. It was very clear to us that Rooted in Jesus is able to meet a great need, and has given them tools for ministry and disciple-making that they were eager to receive.”

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To read the full report please do visit the Rooted in Jesus blog. To find out more about Rooted in Jesus visit our webpage here.
Posted 17th March 2020

Putting down roots in Kenya

Rooted in Jesus has had a busy start to the year, with three conferences already under our belts.
Kitale 02.20 RTM (14)
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.

 

Children and the Church

Roger Morgan writes:
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.

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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.
To find out more visit our Ministry to Families page.
To find out more about Rooted in Jesus Junior visit the Rooted in Jesus website here.
To contact us click here.

Rooted in Jesus Junior 3

Posted 22nd February 2020

Rooted in Jesus Annual Report 2019

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.
Posted 20th January 2020 by Revd Dr Alison Morgan

 

Making disciples in the local church

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.

 
 
 










Posted 6th January 2020