Tony Thompson, leader of Hope Church Luton, is one of the founders and the co-chair of FACES (Faiths Against Child Sexual Exploitation) – a partnership of Christian and Muslim community leaders working to oppose child sexual exploitation (CSE) in all its forms. In this blog, he introduces us to the work of FACES, and why it is vital that the church takes a proactive role in challenging the exploitation of children and young people wherever it is happening.
Child abuse is regularly in the headlines, much of it linked with religion. This includes Muslim / Pakistani grooming gangs; abuse by priests within the Church of England and Roman Catholic Churches, and more recently abuse by ministers in the South Baptist denomination in the US.
Terry Virgo recently spent 3 weeks in Cape Town, South Africa, with the congregations of Common Ground Church. During his stay, Terry was kind enough to spend an afternoon with Church leaders from the Western Cape Hub, teaching through three pertinent sessions, aimed at church Eldership teams.
With Newday 2019 inching ever closer, we are starting to get really excited as plans start to come together for the summer. We’ve got some exciting new stuff coming, which we will be sharing soon, that will add even more to the already full on line up of Newday.
With just three weeks until our first price break, there’s no better time than now to get yourselves booked in and save yourself a few pennies. Early Bird tickets are available until midnight on Thursday 28 March 2019.
A couple of weeks before I (Tom O’Toole) launched Sunday meetings at the newest site of Christ Church Manchester in the City Centre, we did a ‘dry run’ service with just a few of the core team present. A friend of one of the team came along, and in total there were eight people in the room. I preached as though it were a normal service with fifty people there, and tried to teach the Scriptures to the best of my ability with passion, insight and clarity. After the service, the person who had visited said that he had thought he was only coming as a one-off to support his friend, but because of what he had heard in the preach he wanted to join the church and become part of the core team for this new site from day one. This is the power that preaching can have, and I see preaching as something that is central to who we are and that we want to leverage across all of our sites.
The Church is one of the biggest providers of care for the homeless in the UK – including many local expressions pioneered by Catalyst churches. In this blog, Heather from All Nations Church in Bedford shares about their ‘Face2Face’ ministry:
In July 2016 Antonio Pinedo felt a calling from God to reach out to those on the streets of Bedford. Antonio was no stranger to their life style; born in Peru he found himself caught up in a life of drink, drugs, crime and involvement with Peruvian gang life. Today he is a passionate evangelist and an advocate for the lost, lonely and marginalised of Bedford. He started the Face2Face (F2F) ministry with a backpack, a flask and some homemade sandwiches, and over the last two years, this has grown into a thriving ministry. A grant from the Catalyst Social Action Fund means that we can continue to offer Sunday breakfasts and alongside this put on termly social events like Christmas meal, summer BBQ and we are now able to fund a regular fortnightly meeting of food, fellowship, worship and a gospel message. Below is a picture of Antonio speaking at the first of these:
One of the things that you learn before long in church leadership is that often decisions are made that affect people, and yet those people themselves had no say in the decision. Sometimes you will be the one tasked with representing that decision to them. Sometimes you will be the one who the decision affects. Walking these situations well requires deep convictions, pastoral skill and lots of humility.
I (Tom O’Toole) have recently found myself fascinated by Paul’s apostolic ministry into the Gentile world and in particular the Council of Jerusalem. Prior to Paul, Christianity was largely a Jewish phenomenon, and the early converts were either ethnically Jewish or had previously converted to Judaism. After Paul had been commissioned by Jesus to take the gospel to the Gentiles, this left a question hanging that would define the shape of Christianity moving forward: must the expression of Christianity in Antioch, Corinth and Rome match the expression of Christianity in Jerusalem. To put it another way: if a Gentile wanted to become a Christian, did they first need to become a Jew and submit themselves to all that this entailed (particularly the rite of circumcision and the observance of the law).
Jesus is doing incredible things right across our movement as people step out in courage to pray for healing. In this blog, Claire Coggan from the Kings Arms Church in Bedford shares her story of identity, courage, and faith for healing:
Healing is a sign of the Kingdom and we know praying for healing is meant to be part of the normal Christian life for every believer because it’s what Jesus told us to do. He told his disciples, “Heal the sick and say to them the Kingdom of God has come near to you” (Luke 10:9). “As the Father is sending me so also I am sending you” (John 20:21). However, believing it to be true and actually stepping out and praying for people is a challenge! What if nothing happens? What if my prayers are not powerful enough, or what if I leave the person more disappointed? These are all questions that can go through our minds and cause us to step back. Even the disciples sometimes encountered challenge. I used to be afraid to pray for people both inside and outside the church for some of these very reasons, but like everything Jesus told us to do I think He meant it to be a lot simpler than we make it.
This time last year, Confluence was in the middle of a name change. Previously, our family of churches had been known as Newfrontiers-USA, and in keeping with many other Newfrontiers churches, we wanted a name that better emphasised our shared mission and didn’t limit us geographically. Over the past year, as we’ve embraced our new name and a renewed sense of being on mission together, we have seen exciting growth in multiple areas. Locally, regionally, and internationally, Confluence is growing deeper and wider.
Each year, the Catalyst Social Action Fund resources churches and projects to work within their communities serving disadvantaged people and bringing support, hope and life to those most in need. In this blog, Chris Mason from the Oak Church shares about one such project:
Since The Oak Church began to meet together, we have been eating together. A shared table is a place where everyone is equal, all ages are welcome and friendships can begin. There are many people living and working in Leeds & Bradford who eat alone – they’re simply not connected to anyone. In order to make an opportunity for people in our local community to find a way out of loneliness we started Connect Lunch – our Monday lunch club. We provide a free hot meal for anyone who wants it. Typically around 30-40 people turn up each week from all sorts of backgrounds and all sorts of ages to eat and talk, do a puzzle or read the paper.
“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshippers meeting together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become ‘unity’ conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship” – A.W. Tozer