Dear Church Family
I've enjoyed spending time this week with a wide range of people from our church family. So last night our Belfrey Group met and afterwards I reflected that we include people from their 20s to their 70s, of varying backgrounds, all of whom are wanting to grow in faith and make a difference in the world. Our Staff Team, which met as usual on Monday, includes quite a number of young men and women in their 18-30s but also people in their 40s (like me and Greg), 50s, 60s and 70s. And this week I've prayed with those just starting out in marriage, and those about to celebrate 50 years of marriage! It's made me realise what a wonderful thing it is to be part of God's family: a family of differing ages, differing backgrounds, differing nationalities; differing fashion tastes, differing haircuts, differing life-experiences, but one in Jesus Christ. What an honour!
As well as appreciating our established church family we're also in a season when we're especially welcoming newcomers to our city and church. Let's be giving our very best to step up our welcome as we look out for guests during these 'Hello' Sundays. When you meet new people, do encourage them to fill out Welcome Cards so they get connected and invited to a Welcome Meal. If they want to settle in to our church family, do invite them to your Belfrey Group. If you're at XI this Sunday, invite them to the lunch immediately after the service. Developing a culture of invitation is really important if we're going to impact our city and region as the Lord desires. That's why Michael Harvey will be speaking on that very theme this Sunday across the congregations meeting in St Michael le Belfrey Church. Michael is an excellent speaker, with a simple but profound message. I know we're going to enjoy having him with us.
Last Sunday was a Gift Day at church. So far we've received £22,000, plus a decent pledge to fund a different aspect of church life in next year's budget, which is an encouraging start. But we do need more to reach and exceed our target, so please do pray that we will! We know that quite a few have not yet given, so if that's you, please do prayerfully consider what the Lord is asking you to give to this particular Gift Day and then bring your gift on Sunday in an envelope marked 'Gift Day'. Thank you.
We had a helpful Church Council (PCC) Away Day last Saturday, as we looked to future growth and impact in the city and region. We spent some time in groups particularly looking at Sundays, staff and small groups and then ended the day by considering how the PCC might become even more effective and encouraging in its governance role. Please do pray for our PCC and its members as we meet monthly as trustees of the church.
Finally it's been wonderful to hear some moving and remarkable stories in our church of people deciding to follow Jesus; of men and women receiving healing in their bodies; of people choosing to forgive those who've hurt them; of reconciliation in marriages; of practical love shown to people in need, and of hope rising in difficult circumstances. I have been moved and flabbergasted by some of these, so much so that as I pray I've wondered if there's a new chapter unfolding for many people in our city and even for us as a church. I wrote a blog this week about this, which, if you're interested, you can read here.
'Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.' That was a common refrain of God's people in days of old (eg. Psalm 106:1). May it be our chorus in these days, as the Lord again pours out his Spirit amongst us.