In recent weeks, I have shared something of the financial challenges we are facing right now. I want to give you a fuller update and share with you how I think we need to respond.
God is with us. I am seeing evidence of him at work and the life he is bringing all over our church.
We have had a fantastic summer – I have been so encouraged by the sense of community forming through the summer of hospitality.
MOLO and BuZzy Bees are going from strength to strength with record numbers and each week the team tells stories of God at work. David has 20 dads coming to SatDads.
Josh now has nearly 20 young people on the books of Blaze which is up from more like 5 in a year ago. He squashed 17 YP in the office for Sunday youth recently. the lunchtime club at school is becoming a significant channel of recruitment.
The numbers of children coming on a Sunday have been steadily rising. Recently there were 42 which is pre-pandemic levels.
We are so excited by the numbers of new people attending.
There has been a significant experience of the presence of God in our Sunday services recently and a strong engagement with our prayer week.
The demand for our food bank is growing and the compassion ministries are developing with the Sunday afternoon refugee cooking club.
The partnership with St Peter’s is developing – this very morning, they are holding their first ever service of full-immersion baptism with 3 previously unchurched people being baptised and Jon T is developing his new Sunday PM service for families.
And I am so excited by ReGroup. 70 people are signed up
And more than this, God is leading us. During the challenges of the last few years, our vision has sharpened. Our working vision statement is to:
To play our part in the evangelisation of the city and beyond and in establishing a disciple-making, community transforming, church planting movement.
We are sensing the call of God to be:
Kingdom bringers – learning how to pray and work that the Kingdom of God comes, proclaiming and demonstrating the kingdom as Jesus did through words, works, and wonders. As a community church, we are called to bring the kingdom to people from all demographics and walks of life and sense a particular call to families, children and young people, young adults and to the poor and marginalised of society.
Jesus followers – learning together what it means to follow Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit and to make and grow disciples who do likewise. Our vision is to become more strategic and intentional in how we do this.
Builders and planters of community – learning how to be community based not event based and to develop the structures and wineskins within the church that foster community, discipleship, and mission. Seeking to identify, support, and equip those disciples who God is calling to be leaders and pioneers of mission.
We will shortly begin commencing the recruitment of an associate minister who will be the successor to Chris Beaumont. But this person will play a different role. He or she will be focused on developing a strategy for evangelism and discipleship and on identifying and developing leaders of small group and pioneering missional community. We can do this as this role is funded as part of the Resourcing Church programme which is ringfenced money.
There is much that is clear and much that is yet to be discerned. I am so excited about ReGroup, because I believe as we wait on God together, God will renew our relationships, restore our passion for him and together we will discern greater clarity about how God is leading us.
I am excited about the future.
But, right now, we have challenges. I want to be honest about these so that we as a church family can share the burden of these challenges together.
We are living in the shadow of lockdown. During lockdown, as faithful people have naturally moved on, new people didn’t join in the way they have done previously. Like many churches, this has impacted two areas: our finances and volunteer teams. I want to say more here about finance.
Even after tightly restricting our expenditure, we are facing a deficit of £10K. We cannot end a year with this level of deficit. The blunt truth is, that unless we can increase our income, we will need to reduce our mission giving or critically curtail key ministries, neither of which are steps we believe are right to take.
I am troubled by this.
What’s more, I know that we are all to varying degrees personally feeling the financial pinch right now with the cost of living rises and the uncertainty in the world. I don’t think anyone is feeling financially strong at present.
But there is benefit in weakness. Weakness has a humbling effect, causing us to depend on God. This is a good place to be. As Paul writes,
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
And here lies the answer to how I think we need to respond to this.
The answer to this financial challenge will be a move of the Spirit. In our weakness, we need to seek God in prayer and fasting, seeking his will, asking him to provide. I am praying daily for God to send workers into his harvest field as we seek to rebuild our teams and that God will provide 25K of new money over the next 12 months. This is what we believe we need to get back on track.
25K is a stretch but isn’t as much as you might think – it equates to approx. 25/mth per regular giver. With some new givers, this would decrease.
I am inviting us all to join me in praying. And more than that, as we seek him, to be ready to be the answer to our own prayers.
So I encourage you to join me by:
Praying the Generosity prayer below daily over the next 7 days.
Using the information in this Blog to guide our prayers and read our giving leaflet here
Fasting from Wednesday (28th September) night through Thursday (29th September) evening and break fast together at ReGroup
Consider how you might be the answer to our prayers in terms of offering one off gifts or increasing/starting regular giving
Coming to our Gift Day service on 2 Oct ready to respond & give. You can also click here to make your response
Sunday 2 Oct is our gift day. On Sunday 25 Sept, Scott is going to preach on generosity and blessing, and I want to ask us to ponder what he says (or watch back on YouTube afterwards if you can't make it) and come back a week later ready to bring our offerings and gifts. This might be one off gifts or pledges to begin or increase regular giving. We rely on both to function as a church. You
These are extraordinary times, and this is an extraordinary call to pray, fast and give.
Please join me in doing so.
Lord as you taught us to pray,
‘Your kingdom come; your will be done on earth as in heaven’.
We pray this over our city, our community, our friends, our neighbours, our work colleagues, and our families, and those who are in need.
Lord as you taught us to pray,
we ask You for people to serve our community and church and hear your call to proclaim the Good News.
We come to you in our need, and ask that you open the storehouse of heaven and provide what we need individually and as a church.
Lord as you taught us to pray,
Fill us again with the Holy Spirit, and make us ready us to be the answer to our own prayers.
Out of Your love for us help us show generosity and love to others.
We offer our time, money and talents and our whole selves to you now.