Sunday, May 1, 2016

It’s been great over the last four months to have had Faith Taylor sharing with us.  Faith spent 2015 on CWM’s Training in Mission Programme, sharing with other people from many different parts of the world in a training program for mission. 

It took her to Taiwan, to New Zealand and on a life-changing visit to the Pacific Island nation of Kiribati.  Faith has been able to share with us her first-hand experience of the reality of rising sea levels and the consequences of climate change in our Environment Day.  

She has also helped us launch Messy Church and done some great work with our young people.  She moves to on with our love and prayers to the Congregational church in Crediton where James Gregory is Pastor.  

With her passion for work with young people Faith asks us a big question:  when it comes to our young people do we want to convert and retain or train and release?  She invites us to give them a voice, to make sure there’s a place for our children to move into as they become young people and to give them all the support we can.  Faith is very much in our prayers as we wish her every blessing for the future ahead.

Our service begins with some reflections on ministry and the ministry Faith shared with us.

Today is Easter Sunday for the Orthodox churches.  It ties in with Jewish passover which is just coming to an end.

It's a reminder that the variable date for Easter is related to a lunar calendar and links us to Judaism that precedes Christianity and Islam that comes after Christianity.  God forbid we should break those connections and opt for a fixed date for Easter!

The month later Easter has to do with Leap Year.

Here are some notes I got from the web ... 

he Jewish leap year, referred to in Hebrew as Shanah Me'uberet, has 13 months and occurs seven times in a 19-year cycle.

The Jewish calendar has 13 months in a leap year. There are 29 or 30 days in each month in a Jewish leap year, which has 383, 384, or 385 days.

Adar – The Lucky Month
An extra month, Adar I, is added after the month of Shevat and before the month of Adar in a leap year. The month is also known as Adar Rishon or Adar Alef. According to Jewish tradition, Adar is a lucky and happy month.

A Pregnant Year
A leap year is referred to in Hebrew as Shanah Me'uberet, or a pregnant year. A Jewish leap year occurs 7 times in a 19-year cycle. The 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th, and 19th years are leap years in this cycle.

This is a Jewish leap year – and in this leap year this last week has been the festival of Passover … and by another quirk of calendar changes – from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar today is Easter Sunday.

So, it’s great to re-visit Easter – after all every Sunday is an Easter Sunday –

Christ is risen … he is risen indeed.

It is the risen Christ who shapes all we do as followers of Jesus

And so we have a call to live as Easter people, risen with Christ to a new life in him … we share a statement of that faith together in words drawn from the Voice Bible, the version we used for our Easter services.  It is so easy to think of Jesus Christ as if Jesus is the first name and Christ the second name.  But actually the word Christ is a translation of the Hebrew word Messiah which in turn means The Anointed one.  That’s how the Voice Bible translates the word Christ.

Philippians 2:1-11

If you find any comfort from being in the Anointed,
if His love brings you some encouragement,
if you experience true companionship with the Spirit, 
if His tenderness and mercy fill your heart; 
then, brothers and sisters, 
here is one thing that would complete my joy—
come together as one in mind and spirit and purpose, 
sharing in the same love. 

Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. 

Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others.
Get beyond yourselves and protecting your own interests;
be sincere, and secure your neighbours’ interests first.

In other words, adopt the mind-set of Jesus the Anointed. 
Live with His attitude in your hearts. Remember:

Though He was in the form of God,
    He chose not to cling to equality with God;
But He poured Himself out to fill a vessel brand new;
    a servant in form
    and a man indeed.
The very likeness of humanity,
He humbled Himself,
    obedient to death—
    a merciless death on the cross!
So God raised Him up to the highest place
    and gave Him the name above all.
So when His name is called,
    every knee will bow,[a]
    in heaven, on earth, and below.
And every tongue will confess
    “Jesus, the Anointed One, is Lord,”
    to the glory of God our Father!

What does Easter mean – this is what Faith helped Cooler to put together for Easter – 

Cooler Video for Easter

Faith’s finishing with us today … ahh!  But not finishing altogether!  Her gorwing discipleship programme is taking her forward to share with other churches in the Federation through the year … so we hope you keep going!!

Wherever Paul went in the Roman world he was never far from a theatre where they put on plays, an amphitheatre where they had pretty gruesome gladiatorial battles or a stadium where the sports were held.

How wonderful to take Faith to the World of Smile stadium yesterday to celebrate Cheltenham Town – the Robins as Champions.

And today?  You are from Manchester.  You are a Manchester City fan?  So as a Manchester City fan do you want Man United to win this afternoon or to lose?  Answer carefully … And if they lose who becomes champions?   It’s great to have Felicity’s sister Angela with us today – from the place where we all grew up – Leicester.

While Hy-Tec were on our weekend away – Faith was filking interviews with people – so people can catch a glimpse of our course and what it’s about.

I wanted to catch on film a conversation I had had with Keith, who has worked with us at our Congregational Centre for well over twenty years and more looking after the place.  Always good for a conversation … from Nottingham, Leicester’s arch rivals.

Here’s his analysis

Video of Richard and Keith

Richard in conversation with Keith, who looks after Cleaves Hall and the conference centre we have in Nottingham.  Keith reflects on the way Leicester City's success is down to their teamwork.  And as a team they bring people together of different nationalities and different faiths modelling the teamwork there should be in society as a whole as people of different nationalities and different faiths work together.

Be together as a team – working as one … and then Paul says, 

Can they keep going and cross the finishing line?   

Keep on going to the end – that’s what Paul goes on to say …

Philippians 3:12-14

I’m not there yet, nor have I become perfect; 
but I am charging on 
to gain anything and everything the Anointed One, Jesus, 
has in store for me—
and nothing will stand in my way 
because He has grabbed me and won’t let me go. 

Brothers and sisters, as I said, I know I have not arrived; 
but there’s one thing I am doing: 
I’m leaving my old life behind, 
putting everything on the line for this mission. 

I am sprinting toward the only goal that counts: 
to cross the line, to win the prize, 
and to hear God’s call to resurrection life found exclusively
in Jesus the Anointed.

That’s the call – that’s the special thing … and that’s the call to us all.  It’s a bit daunting.  No pressure!

But actually we can do it not in our own strength but in the strength Christ gives us …

Philippians 4:8-13

Finally, brothers and sisters, 
fill your minds with beauty and truth. 
Meditate on 
whatever is honourable, whatever is right, 
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, 
whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.

Keep to the script: 
whatever you learned and received and heard and saw in me—do it—
and the God of peace will walk with you.

I could hardly contain my joy in the Lord 
when I realized you have started to show your care for me once again. 
Since you have not had the opportunity 
to show how much you cared until now, 
I want you to know how it touched me.

I am not saying this because I am in need. 
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances.

I know how to survive in tight situations, 
and I know how to enjoy having plenty.

In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances:
fed or hungry, with or without.
I can be content in any and every situation 
through the Anointed One who is my power and strength.

I love the way the NRSV puts it …

I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

Presentations to Faith

Hand over to James and to Crediton – 
with some comments on Crediton and what’s in store there.

A Hy-Spirit song

Activities for over 3’s

The spirit of teamwork is very much the thought taken up in Ephesians 4

Reading: Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16

As a prisoner of the Lord, I urge you: 
Live a life that is worthy of the calling 
He has graciously extended to you.
Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. 
Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love.
Make every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit has already created, 
with peace binding you together.

There is one body and one Spirit, 
just as you were all called to pursue one hope.

There is one Lord Jesus, one living faith, 
one ceremonial washing through baptism,
and one God—the Father over all 
who is above all, through all, and in all.
This God has given to each of us grace in full measure 
according to the Anointed’s gift

It was the risen One who handed down to us such gifted leaders—
some emissaries, some prophets, some evangelists, 
as well as some pastor-teachers— 
so that God’s people would be thoroughly equipped 
to minister and build up the body of the Anointed One.

These ministries will continue until we are unified in faith
and filled with the knowledge of the Son of God, 
until we stand mature in His teachings 
and fully formed in the likeness of the Anointed, our Liberating King. 

Then we will no longer be like children, 
tossed around here and there upon ocean waves, 
picked up by every gust of religious teaching 
spoken by liars or swindlers or deceivers.

Instead, by truth spoken in love, 
we are to grow in every way into Him—the Anointed One, the head. 

He joins and holds together the whole body 
with its ligaments providing the support needed 
so each part works to its proper design 
to form a healthy, growing, and mature body 
that builds itself up in love.

Worship Song - King of kings

It’s been great to share with Faith –  Faith is going to share with us some of her thoughts as she comes to the end of her trime with usof her thoughts about young people in church 

Youth Ministry An Art Not a Science

An Art or a Science – reflections on Youth Ministry
Faith Taylor – Highbury Sunday, 1st May 2016


‘Youth ministry is an art, not a science’.

I heard that phrase when I was in New Zealand last year and it stuck with me.
When you look at doing youth ministry there isn’t a straightforward, scientific formula to use in every situation. Things are constantly changing and this is where the difficulty lies. But there is also a sense of adventure, which I just love.

During the past few years a passion for youth has sneaked up on me. I have always been scared of youth work in the past but all of a sudden it has become something so important to me.

1)         Making Space for voices to be heard

At the moment, the most important thing I have discovered when doing youth work, is making space for voices to be heard.

This actually works across the board regardless of people’s age.  Everyone likes to have his or her opinions or beliefs heard and generally a chance to speak, but I find a lot of the time this privilege is taken away from youth.

I was at a conference in New Zealand last year. At the end of the conference they had a quick church meeting. The idea was that they had a few things to talk about
then some things to vote on.  They asked the youth, if they wanted to, to go out into a separate room, to have their own conversation about the topic the adults were discussing.

This was their chance to ask questions and understand the topic they were focusing on. They would then have the chance to come back into the main room and share what they believe and what their views were.

It started off as planned.

The youth went out, they talked, the adults talked,  the youth came back ready to share what they had discussed.

However, when they were asked to join back, there was a huge discussion,
which turned into a vote on if they wanted the youth to share or not.

This situation shattered the youth that were in the room.

Their chance to have their voices and opinions heard was taken away.  They felt that they didn’t have a place in that meeting, even in the church.

To be honest, it’s really not surprising that when children get to this age they don’t feel they belong.

When they are young, their place is to go out to their children’s activities. But when they grow up, they are too old to stay in that group, but equally too young for being in the ‘adult’ room. They don’t have a place they can call their own.

Having said this,  I have already learnt a lot from being at this church, because you have the separate groups set up for all the different age groups.  I’ve really enjoyed working with the Cooler Group on Sunday mornings – it’s been great to see what you are doing with them but I wonder whether there’s more that you can do.

That situation in New Zealand has helped me to see the importance of voices.
Please give your youth a voice, a chance to share and please do not take it away from them.

2)   Providing a Place in advance
for young people to move on to

When I was in New Zealand, we were taught so much about youth work at one of the church placements.   I believe this is where I realised that my passion was with youth - I hadn’t it accepted until this point. This church did so much that excited me that I couldn’t wait to get back and do things with youth in England.

One thing that really stuck out for me was a conversation I had with the pastor of the church. He said he had been at the church for a couple of years, and in that time he had focused on the youth work mainly, rather than the children’s work. His reason for this was to ensure that there would be a stable and ready youth work established for the children to move up into.

This seemed backwards to me,

I have always seen a focus in churches on the young children, and this isn’t a criticism at all, but it suddenly hit me that it makes a lot more sense to have that youth work ready for the young ones to move up to. Children generally come to church because their parents or grandparents have brought them. But when they are older they usually come to church out of choice, because they want to.

We can all understand that feeling.  We all share that feeling. 

Would you choose to go somewhere if you felt unwelcome or out of place?

I believe this is a common feeling with youth. 

The danger is that they are not made to feel welcome.

Summing up of points 1 and 2

The youth at the church in New Zealand had a space where their voices could be heard.  They also had a place they prepared for them in advance that they could move on to.

That meant they had a reason to be in church. 

Every other Sunday they could either share a song – they were a sort of choir-
or they could share a dance. They basically could do whatever they felt they wanted to share with the congregation.

This wasn’t an over-night thing that happened:it started with them sharing at special events such as mothers day, Easter, etc. and when they had built their confidence up they started doing things a bit more regularly.

3)  The importance of Support

The next thing the youth need is support. 

The most important thing the youth in that New Zealand church had was support. 

Ultimately they were in charge of themselves.

I’ve seen this quite a lot in different churches, and even the Congregational Federation do it with their CFXtra. Their catch-phrase is  ‘By young people, for young people.’

I believe in this so much.

It is a great way to give the youth the feeling that they have something to do, they have a place and a purpose.

However to be able to do this, they need a lot of support, and I know Highbury will have no problem in this area. I know this because I have felt so much support
from the church in the short time I have been here, and I have felt so welcomed into this family.

So I have no doubts at all that Highbury is able to ‘be all things, to all people’.

4)  Convert and retain OR train and release

This brings me to my last point.

Do we want to convert & retain or train & release?

By giving them
a space for their voices to be heard, and
a place in advance for them to move on to and
by giving them all the support
you can you are actually training them to go.

They can go with the confidence to share their faith or whatever they need to do.

I have come to believe that seeing your young people go away whether it is to university or to work is actually an exciting goal for the church to focus on.

We should be encouraging them to go …but go with the confidence that they can do all things through the strength that Christ has given them. (Philippians 4:13)

Ephesians 4:12 tells us ‘to prepare God’s people for works of service’.

·         Give them a space to for their voices to be heard.

·         Give them a place to move into

·         Give them all the support you can

·         And then as you release them have great expectations for them:  Expect fruit in their lives.

For me, Youth ministry is an art, it is not a science.

Hymn: In Christ alone

Prayers of Concern

588 And can it be

Words of Blessing

So much to pass on at Highbury

If you give a little love you can get a little love of your own

A blessing shared at Highbury

Now and the Future at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions

Darkness into Light