Category Archives: church

First post of 09

A belated Happy New Year, a week and abit into January and I thought i’d better post something to try and keep this blog alive. Christmas was a restful and enjoyable break from what’s been a pretty hectic time, which was nice. It’s back to busy again which I really don’t like as much, but sometimes there are seasons of life that are just like that. I am attempting to maintain a more balanced rhythm amidst the busyness, but am already wondering how I’ll maintain it over a few busy weeks ahead. Have been asked to speak with our elders in church about our youthwork, the challenges we face, and where we go from here. It’s encouraging, if somewhat daunting, but hopefully a step in the right direction into developing a more strategic approach to connecting with a generation / society.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (MSG)
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”

Busy Times

It’s been a hectic few weeks, alot of meetings, hardly a nite in, and often I find myself running from pillar to post without taking time to catch a breath. It’s kinda a love/hate relationship with busyness and me : I love being busy and having lots on, but at the same time I hate it when I fail to have time to catch a breath and simply chill. Today has been a welcome calm amidst the chaos as I had the day off work, and have had a little time to just chill and reflect. So whats been going on and whats coming up………….

  • Celebration Of Hope – was involved in the counselling/encourager team at the event on the Friday and Saturday nights. Incredibly well organised event, great response on the youth night, appropriate means used to communicate the gospel through dance/song/testimony and proclamation of the biblical truth
  • Meetings – involved in a number of church committee’s, trying to gradually bring about change and rock the boat abit in our traditional, comfortable, highly frustrating church setting. Hoping that the community outreach mission planned for October 08 will re-focus our attention on the taking the gospel outside the 4 walls of church building. Hope to building bridges into a community that has become distant and uninterested in what the church has to say, meeting people where they are at with the unchanging gospel using appropriate means to establish this connection through which the gospel will flow, and God willing reap a mighty harvest.
  • Reachout Prep – planning for Reachout 08 begins tonight, with the week hopefully happening at the start of August. Trust God will continue to grow this ministry that he has birthed, and use it for his glory, impacting many lives young and old in the communities we are placed in.
  • Turning Point – this weekend i’ll be involved with a team of counselors, mainly guys who have been involved as leaders in Reachout, at a Christian event run for young people at Ganaway, organised through the Belfast Battalion of the BB. Really exciting event, first time we’ve been involved, but sounds like a scaled down version of Summer Madness.

Mission 2008

On Tuesday night i’ll be meeting with others on a outreach committee in church to consider running a mission this time next year in our local community.  We had a brief meeting with Paul Hoey, a ministry consultant with CPAS who will so-ordinate with us and advise us on tunning an evangelistic mission and follow up activities next year.  Quite excited about the opportunities that will arise as we consider how we can re-connect with a community that is largely disconnected and indifferent to the Gospel of Christ and it’s relevance to their lives.  Since coming to faith this has been a burden on my heart, and something that drives me in the youthwork I seek to do, so i’m quite excited about what God can do over the coming months in preperation for the mission.

Alot of the time I find myself frustrated by church and it’s lack of vision and purpose, the attitude of keep doing what we have been doing, so i’m praying that God will use this mission opportunity to re-focus our attentions on our call to be a salt-and-light difference in society and adopting a missional approach to ministry.

Watch this space, further posts will follow

Organised Chaos

So as another term of youthwork stuff begins again this weekend, seems in a way never to have stopped with taking football and doing a couple of outreach teams over the summer, but normal service resumes from Friday night.  The moderator is opening our refurbished hall this weekend as well which i’m guessing must be a big deal judging by all the fuss, a major bun and sandwich delegation is underway.  If we were more passionate about reaching the lost perhaps, but maybe thats just me being cynical again, have to watch what I say sometimes.

Anyway I think i’m more dis-organised than ever this year, or at least it feels that way, but have the assurance that God will be at work despite my failings, and have to trust in Him and try and be abit more organised to serve him better.  Anyway my beauty sleep is calling, and boy do i need that!!  Adios to all who drop by, till I blog again………..

Kingdom Come Conference

Kingdom Come……..more than words Conference

Challenging, refreshing, inspiring, educational, rewarding: these are all words I would use as I reflect on the few days I spent at the above conference. Sometimes you get bogged down doing “stuff” in church related activities, and you loose focus on who your serving and why your serving Him. And this week was just what I needed to challenge my own relationship with my Heavenly Father, and how this in turn affected the youth ministry in which I am engaged and also my mission-field of the wrkplace. It also helped to re-ignite my passion for serving the one who brought me into relationship with the Father, and by whose grace I am free to live and serve daily.
Some greatly gifted communicators led us from Gods word challenging us in our relationship with God, the gospel we proclaim and how we proclaim it in todays society. Brothers and sisters in Christ from every branch of the evangelical church in Ireland joined together to learn, discuss, worship and enjoy fellowship together.
I thank God for giving me the opportunity to learn more of him at this conference, for challenging areas of my life that needed dealt with, for re-igniting my passion to serve him, and for broadening my vision and seeing my role as a follower of Christ to see his KINGDOM COME

Sowing the Seed

Was at Worldwide05 last night, the Bangor worldwide missionary convention. Speaker was a guy John Woodside from Drogheda Presbyterian; spoke on the sowing of the seed, and how Jesus parables relate more than ever to today’s culture in a post-Christian, post-modern largely apathetic society.
He used Mark 4, and started out painting a pretty grim picture of so much seed sown, with sometimes so little evidence of growth and new life. And sometimes that’s how we can feel about the “mission” were involved in wherever we are be it Boardmills, Raffery or further afield. Week by week we faithfully sow the seed, but rarely do we see the results. And that’s where the problem is, not with the seed (Gods word), or the method of sowing, but when we think we have anything to do with the process. It’s all about God, it’s seeds of his Gospel we are sowing, and it’s in his timing and according to his purpose that the seed will take root and grow.
And when the seed starts to grow, the results are beyond our wildest dreams, as the seed takes root it multiples and the result is a mighty harvest. So as we sow the seed week by week, even if it seems like a waste at times, we have to remember the Lord of the harvest, who will enable that seed to take root and bear a mighty crop in his perfect timing. The gospel is compared to the mustard seed, the smallest seed, yet when it takes root it grows into the largest of garden plants. And this is the gospel we proclaim, and it still has the same power to transform lives. I know it does because it has transformed mine, so keep sowing the seed faithfully, bringing it before the Lord of the harvest, and trust him to one day reap a mighty harvest.

Youth Service

“Arise, cry out in the night, as the watches of the night begin;
pour out your heart like waterin the presence of the Lord.
Lift up your hands to him for the lives of your children,
who faint from hunger at the end of every street”
Lamentations 2vs.19

This was the message we sen’t out at our youth service last weekend, inviting members of the congregation to commit long term to becoming a “prayer buddy” for the young people who come through the doors of our youth organisations. Its been on our hearts as leaders that this generation needs our prayers more than ever, and that God will answer the prayers of his people again and rise up a generation of passionate young Christians who will take the love of Christ back to the streets.
The service took the form of an insight into the life of a 21st century teenager, exploring youth culture today and the pressures of the world that are seeking to capture the lives of our young people. We then set out the challenge for members of the congregation to play their part in “lifting up their hands and pouring out their heart” for this generation.
In researching for this I came across some interesting, and somewhat shocking stats

  • every 7 seconds someone in Britian is being bullied
  • 37% of young people in Northern Ireland live below the poverty threshold
  • 62% of young people studied would say they have some level of sexual experience
  • 59% of 11-16 year olds would have an alcoholic drink on a weekly basis

Despite all these pressures I firmly believe God will use this generation to revive his body the church on these shores and beyond. I personally have experienced the power of prayer, and know it was the prayers of my family and commited christians in my school that saved my soul and brought me to repentance and faith in Christ from the depths of sin. And God can do likewise for the many lost prodigals who are desperately searching for meaning in life.

As Linkin Park put it :
“ I WANT TO HEAL; I WANT TO FEEL;
LIKE I’M CLOSE TO SOMETHING REAL;
I WANT TO FIND SOMETHING I’VE WANTED ALL ALONG;
SOMEWHERE I BELONG”

Young people are searching for somewhere to belong throughout this land and beyond, if only the church would hear their cry.

Days ahead

Its been a while

Well over a month has passed since I last blogged and recorded my thoughts on here. Seems strange coming back to it now after a lengthy break, but I just scanning through past entries I can see it’s use as I see what God’s been putting on my heart in recent months. Things recently have been pretty hectic, this past month more so than normal it seems, and a number of times my quiet times have suffered and I find that other commitments and pressures have squeezed God out to the periphery. But I’m off for a few days now, time to recharge the batteries, and more importantly spend quality time chilling out with God, re-connecting to the one whose will I have surrendered my life to.
Have been looking through the Make Poverty History material recently, looking through some of the issues with our youth groups. It’s opened my eyes afresh to God’s heart for social justice and equality for all, and how far mankind has fallen from this as the rich nations get richer and often attribute to rather than alleviate from the injustices and in-equalities that exist in the world today. Its amazing as you read back through Old Testament times, that no matter how far we have progressed technologically, the issues that separated man from God were the same then as they are today. And God still demands the same of his people today as he did in the days of the prophet Zechariah:

Zechariah 7 vs. 9-10
“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widower or the fatherless, the alien or the poor. In your hearts do not think evil of each other’

I’ve also been involved in planning for the summer, holding an event for young people in the area. Its something I’ve had a desire to do for a while now, and it was awesome to find out that it’s something God has been placing on the hearts of a number of others. After much prayer, and a couple of meetings later we now have an idea of where we feel God is directing us with it. Reach Out is gonna be a week-long mission/gathering of teenagers from our community and the surrounding area. The idea is to provide an environment where young people are presented with a faith that’s real, that reaches beyond the 4 walls of a church, and that is expressed in service and showing Christ’s love in practical ways. They will be involved in servant-hearted, community based projects, breaking down generational and social barriers as they show Christ’s love to the community in practical ways. This will be supplemented with fun activities, outings and sessions that deal with the Big Questions of Life in a culturally relevant format.

Frustrations

Working through Frustrations

This past week has been an interesting one, lots on as always, but a week where I found myself really struggling with issues regarding church, and as a result struggling to connect with God. Church are always interesting places, and this past week has been fun from what i’ve heard from a number of people. It all stems from the realm of worship, more specifically how we do it on a practical level ( church choir, organist etc. etc.). I wasn’t at the meeting myself because I don’t see worship as my role in the church, but it seems to be adversely affecting the work we are doing with the youth. This is my main point of struggle : how do we overcome the obstacles and barriers placed in our way in engaging our youth within the formal body we call church. All-age, inter-generational, corporate family based worship : how does that look and work.

I feel sometimes that no matter what we do with the youth, engaging with them on a relational basis, sharing the love of Christ with them in a practical and relevant format : if we cannot bridge the divide that brings them into the corporate body we call church, then where does that leave us………

As I have struggled through things in my head, chatting through it with friends and family, I find myself coming to the only place I know will be of help, and thats to my knees crying out to my Heavenly Father who knows exactly how these issues that seem like obstacles to me can be smoothed out and overcome.

Whatever floats your boat

This weekend was the harvest services in our church, and as is normally the case in our rural setting the church was more packed than usual, with many faces making their annual appearance to church, and others visiting from neighbouring churches. Harvest is a very traditional thing, especially in the country, and for the first year I can remember I found it a struggle.

The concept of harvest I am totally OK with, I certainly am all for praising God for his goodness at this time of year. I guess it was just the format I struggled abit with, and maybe thats just down to personal preference, I dunno.

As far as format goes, alot of it was listening to our choir, and in the evening a male voice choir sing praises in beautiful harmony and melody. The evening service especially was for me more like sitting in a concert for this male voice choir, than attending church to praise and thank our God the great creator and provider in this time of harvest.

I guess my main issue was the lack of participation involved, it would feel much more like a community if we joined together in our praises and prayers uplifting our God of the harvest, and crying out to him for a hervest of souls to be surrendered to Him again in our land.

Another thing I couldn’t help wondering is what make’s God smile : the melodious and harmonious praise of a professional choir, or the genuine heartfelt praise of a redeemed sinner……

I’m not judging those who were singing as not being genuine, and i’m sure there’s many people they blessed with their God given voices, but I guess I realised i’m more someone who pelts it out because it means something to me no matter what I sound like, and worship for me is very much participatory.

I guess this all stems to some things that have been on my mind recently about how we present “church” as such. For the teenager who struggles through yet another service they feel they have to go to, where do they possibly fit into the traditional format of how we do “church”. Should it be the case that we present a “You fit in with our agenda and how we do it here” attitude, or do we provide a caring atmosphere where they are valued and feel like they bleong, and more than that allow them to express themselves in a way thats meaningful to them.

Quite possible that my thoughts are influenced by my musical innability and illiteracy, and the strong drum and bass influences of my teenage years that dont quite fit in with the choral melodies.