Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Rediscovering the 'F' word

So you are a follower of Jesus living in Jerusalem. His last words for you were to wait for the Holy Spirit to come and, wow, did he arrive in power. Suddenly the gathering of 120 swells to over 3000 as hundreds of people give their lives to Jesus.  Without having years of preparation or gradual growth this first church had to become rooted and established quickly. So what key things did the first followers of Jesus focus on?

Well, reading Acts 2 v 42 gives us an idea.  This first church devoted themselves - that means they gave themselves fully and completely - to a number of things. One of which was fellowship.

We can lose sight of what this word really means. For some, the word speaks of secret societies. To others they think of 'Lord of the Rings' and still to others, you may think of afternoon tea with quiche.

Biblically, the word fellowship speaks of deep communion and participation worked out in our relationships. Maybe the idea of 'shared lives' catches a sense of it's true meaning. People whose lives are connected at a deep level in Jesus choosing to encourage one another, be generous towards one another and, basically, open their lives to each other. Healthy churches are built on this idea of biblical fellowship - so do we need to rediscover this 'f' word?

Fellowship can't be forced or fake. But it does require all of us to take a step towards something, to choose to get connected with people beyond a Sunday morning meeting. This term, at The King's Church Mid-Sussex, there are over 30 ways to connect to community mid-week. You can read about them all in our new King's Life magazine.

There are a range of Life Groups; people getting together for coffee, cake and to encourage one another in their walk with Jesus.

For those who are exploring the Christian faith there is the Alpha Course. A chance to ask questions, discuss issues of life and faith, meet new friends and talk freely.

If you have recently become a Christian, or are new to the Christian faith, then there is a group looking at the foundation building blocks of the Christian life.

If you have been a Christian for years and want to go deeper, then there is a group taking a closer look at the book of Jeremiah.

If you want to look afresh at our new identity in Jesus and what it means to know truth that sets us free, then there is the Freedom Course.

There are daytime groups, Bible journalling groups, prayer groups, and there are courses on life skills such as money management, marriage and parenting.

There are many ways to connect, to get to know people, to grow in your faith and, we hope, to step towards fellowship.  Let me encourage you to take a first step; sign up for a group, get involved, get connected.  If you have any questions email life

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Standing on the shoulders of giants: Celebrating 40 years at TKC

Forty years ago, on August 21 1977, a group of pioneers stepped out in faith and obedience and started a new church - what is now The King's Church Mid-Sussex. They met in the bar lounge of a hired hall in Haywards Heath, West Sussex. They were persuaded that the ministry and gifts of the Holy Spirit were for today, they enjoyed a new freedom in worship and they built everything upon the wonderful foundations of grace. This video tells a little of that story.

Last Sunday we celebrated the fact that our church is 40 years old. But how could we celebrate that event without celebrating those who were part of that first meeting 40 years ago and who are still part of the church today? Through thick and thin, in suffering and rejoicing, when church life was easy and when it was hard they have persevered, they have prayed, they have served, they have trusted God and they are still doing that today. Amazing heroes of faith!

I have the privilege of leading the church today but I stand on the shoulders of giants. Those who pioneered, trusted God and stepped out. The fruit of their faith and obedience is the kind of church we now enjoy and, at times, take for granted.  If their legacy means anything for our future then there are a number of things we need to remember as we look forward.

1. We need to remember to consistently ask for the Holy Spirit's help and empowerment. It is not the style of music that makes us charismatic, but the firm belief that the ministry and the gifts of the Spirit are for today.

2. We need to remember that God builds us into his church - which is a community, a family, a body - not simply a sequence of meetings. Relationships matter - even when they are hard. God moulds our lives into community.

3. We need to remember that we stand in grace. Our life with God is never based on our attempts at living a good life but on the glorious gift of grace. Not only do we receive this wonderful gift but we are called to display it in our lives and attitudes.

4. We need to remember to keep pioneering. This first generation fought battles, took steps of faith, stepped out in trust and from those small beginnings God has grown a movement of churches numbering in excess of 1500. Pioneering is in our DNA, let's not settle for the status quo.

I thank God for those who began our church and for those who 40 years later are still part of it. In 40 years time, I pray my generation will leave a similar legacy.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Can anything change when you do the same thing in the same way?

It was great to have Dave and Liz Holden with us last Sunday at The King's Church Mid-Sussex. They are good friends and a great support and encouragement to all that we are doing together as a local church.  Dave spoke from Luke 5 and it was a hugely encouraging message.  If you were away let me encourage you to listen to it - you can download it here.

In Luke 5 the disciples had been out fishing all night and had caught nothing. Not a kipper! Then Jesus (a carpenter!) turns up and tells them to go out into the lake and put their nets down again. You can imagine how the disciples may have wanted to respond! 'We've been out all night Jesus - trust us when we say there's no fish out there'. Yet because it was Jesus they went, and incredibly they caught so many fish that it nearly sunk their boat.

They did the same thing in the same way - in the same boat, with the same nets, in the same place yet because Jesus had spoken they saw a miracle happen.

As we start a new term at The King's Church, much of what we are doing feels very familiar. We are still meeting every Sunday, we are running Alpha again, we are having a prayer room and prayer week again - the same place, the same boats, the same nets.

And it can be tempting to react like the disciples in the story: "Jesus we have been toiling all night and there's nothing out there." 

But when Jesus speaks, when Jesus acts, these familiar boats and nets can suddenly become a means by which we see miraculous things take place.

We believe that God has spoken to us as a church. I can remember a prophetic word from twelve years ago that spoke of a dam breaking over Mid-Sussex and that we'd be overwhelmed by it, much like the disciples were overwhelmed by their catch of fish. I don't believe we've seen the fulfilment of that word yet.

More recently, as we made the change from running one to two morning meetings, we sensed God saying that he already knew the name of every person who would come and fill the empty chairs that were now evident through running two smaller meetings. Someone else felt God say that we would not have enough capacity in two meetings and that, soon, we'd need to be adding a third meeting into our weekly schedule. Another person had a dream of the walls of HOME Coffee House being lined with hundreds of books, each one telling the story of someone who had encountered God through the life of our church.

We live with many prophetic promises. So yes, its September again, we are running Alpha again, we are having a prayer week again - but as we let out these nets in the same place, from the same boat - let's believe what Jesus has promised us. Hundreds of lives impacted by the good news of the gospel.

This Sunday (10 September) is Vision Sunday and then we head into our week of prayer. I can't wait. We heard stories all summer about revival, and how revivals start in a prayer meeting. Who knows what God may do as we gather to pray next week. See you there!

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Ashburnham 2017: Great teaching, lots of laughter and plenty of sun

We've just got back from an amazing weekend at Ashburnham with about 2300 others from the New Ground family of churches.

Ashburnham is a beautiful place, especially when the sun shines. And the sun really did shine. Good weather always helps when you are camping but that wasn't the only reason why this last weekend was so good.

Over the weekend there was some amazing teaching; exploring the theme 'make a difference'. The teaching was big picture and practical at the same time and I'd encourage everyone to listen to the downloads when they are available.
There was also time to hear some amazing stories of what churches across New Ground are doing to impact their communities. Innovative and engaging projects are making a massive difference across the UK.

I had the privilege of speaking in the youth venue. I spoke on revival and it was just incredible to see a big crowd of teenagers come to the front of the venue and start crying out to God for revival in their generation. I will always remember that evening!

There were so many things that I could mentioned; the prayer room, the fact that £223,000 was given, the amazing times of worship that we enjoyed together.

But more than anything...Ashburnham was special because it meant I got to hang out with a crowd of people from the church that I love and lead. Some I knew well, some not so well, but sitting out late at night under a clear sky sharing stories and laughing...alot... was so precious.

I know that many went to Ashburnham two years ago and it was a difficult experience for reasons I won't go into here.  It was tough and I understand why this will have deterred people from attending this year.  However,  2017 was a very different experience and I have come away from this weekend refreshed, envisioned and so grateful to be part of New Ground, a family of churches that help us connect to a bigger picture of what God is doing beyond Mid-Sussex.  Plus... it really topped up the tan!

Ashburnham is happening again over the August Bank Holiday weekend in 2019

Friday, 13 January 2017

A new chapter for The King's Church Mid-Sussex

This coming Sunday (15 January 2017) is a significant and exciting day for The King's Church Mid-Sussex. It will mark the end of one chapter in our story and herald the beginning of a whole new chapter in the life of our church. This Sunday, for the final time, we will be meeting as one congregation in one meeting on a Sunday.

There have been other moments like this in our history; when the church moved from a home to a small rented room, from the small room to a large hall, from one Sunday meeting in that larger hall to two meetings and then more recently to purchasing and renovating a warehouse as a permanent home.

Our history is marked by these 'new beginnings' and they should cause us to look forward with a sense of huge expectation to all that is ahead.

On 22 January 2017 we will start a new chapter again as we multiply to having two morning meetings - one at 9.30am and one at 11.30am. This is the first step to multiplication - I believe there will be many others in the months and years ahead.

This is a new thing.

Not the same thing just at different times. But a new thing. A new chapter for us as a church. Unwritten pages waiting to be filled with wonderful God stories.

Let me encourage you to make every effort to be with us over these coming weeks. To be together in one room in one meeting for the last time this coming Sunday; thanking God for all he has done thus far and looking ahead to this new chapter.

And then to be there at the start of this new chapter, this new adventure, this new beginning in the life of our church. We follow an amazing God and are looking to him to do amazing things in the months ahead.

I look forward to seeing you very soon.