Tom's Letter, April 2017: Vision for All Saints
I wanted to take this opportunity to bring something back to you from all the prayer, discussion and ideas that have come out of the recent vision weekend, gifts morning and PCC away day. I believe that God has called us together as a church for a specific purpose, particularly for Wick and the north areas of Littlehampton.
I’m going to structure this around the idea that the heart of the church’s calling is to see people come to know Jesus, grow in love for God and others and so follow Jesus out in love to the world…
TO KNOW: People coming to know Jesus as saviour, friend and king. Everyone welcomed into God’s family through repentance and faith in Christ and receiving His Holy Spirit.
Someone shared Romans 10:13-15, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’
A picture has been emerging of All Saints as a Beacon of Gospel light into our community. Of course, that should be true of all churches. But I believe we have a God-given opportunity to reach out with the good news of Jesus in new and exciting ways. There’s a sense of God preparing the hearts of people within our community who are ready to believe, if we’re ready to bring Jesus’ love to them.
Here are some specific ideas from our prayers and discussions that I’d like to try or that have already begun:
- Regular Alpha courses with a wide and open invitation.
- Greater partnership with local schools leading towards an annual holiday club (from 2018).
- ‘Pop-up Communities’ in the summer, to get to know our community better in a fun and friendly way.
- Using our building(s) more often and more creatively to get to know people and share our faith.
Looking further forward, I’d love us to be praying about some ideas to work towards:
- Something like Messy Church and/or ways of sharing our faith with families and young people.
- A big focus on prayer in 2018 to tie-in with the Diocese’ year of prayer, with a mission focus.
- Include a number of Sunday services that have a special focus for guests and seekers.
TO LOVE: Loving the Lord more through word and worship when we meet together, studying the Bible in groups, daily quiet times, personal reflections. Growing in faith and understanding. Allowing God’s love for us to grow our love for Him, others and his creation.
Much of this we do already, so it’s really asking God to continue growing and deepening our faith and love. What I believe we see if we look around is a group of people with lots of gifts, lots of stories, lots of ways that God can use us to encourage one another in our walk with the Lord. We’re here, together, because God has called us!
Again, there are things we’ve started to do or that I’d like to initiate:
- A daytime homegroup and encouraging homegroups to consider sharing the leading of studies
- Follow-up to Alpha (in a group or 1-1)
- Occasional Saturday Morning Seminars to go in depth on a variety of aspects of faith
- Making time in our Sunday services to hear testimonies and encourage each other personally
- Developing a welcome pack and making newcomers feel welcome and included.
- I have some further ideas for our main Sunday services, which I will explain and include gradually
TO FOLLOW: Our calling as individuals and as a church, heading out into our communities. To live out the new life we’ve received in Jesus. To serve, to go where Jesus is leading to love our families, friends, neighbours, colleagues and strangers.
I can see us as a family of Christians who are each seeking to follow Jesus to the places and people he’s called us to. This will look different for each of us, but that’s the great thing about church, our faith brings unity through diversity. We can help one another to discern our unique gifts, and discover our place in God’s plan.
It’s hard to list ideas for this as each of our ministries are unique and personal. But, one idea I would like to incorporate is ‘This Time Tomorrow’: to hear on Sunday what’s going on in one person’s life on Monday and then pray for them. We’ve also seen more people taking on service roles within the church but I believe there are more gifts and opportunities to serve. I’d also like to keep highlighting the ministry of Christian organisations that members of All Saints may feel called to support or get involved with. Perhaps there are also further opportunities to share our lives with each other a little more: growing our hospitality culture, walks, shared meals, days away etc – please keep praying and thinking about how we can encourage one another to follow Jesus every day.
Hopefully in this and other ways we’ll remind ourselves that we each have a God-given purpose and the vision of a church that helps one another to follow Jesus will become more and more of a reality.
Another verse which was shared was 2 Thessalonians 1:3, We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.
Let’s keep praying for more of that!
There have been so many great ideas shared, and although I’ve listed some here it doesn’t cover everything and there may be other things that you feel prompted about. Please come and chat, keep praying about things that God may even be calling you to initiate or to work with others on. Maybe some of the ideas I’ve mentioned have prompted you, again please come and chat – I love those sorts of conversations!
Finally, I just want to say a personal thank you to everyone for making us feel so welcome at All Saints. It’s clear to see how God has been at work amongst the church family here for a long time. It’s also been great to welcome newer folk into the fellowship as well. No amount of ideas or activity alone will have any further value unless it is the Lord at work through us. This is what God has been doing, and we should believe that he will continue to do as long as we’re ready to let him lead us and trusting in his word to guide us.
May God bless you and constantly remind you of how great his love is for you in Jesus.
Yours in Christ