“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thess 5:11
Whether the World Cup, Wimbledon or athletics, there is a scene on television that is the most moving… it is of the crowds cheering and spurring the athletes on. Throughout the New Testament the image of a race is used, not a short sprint, but a marathon. The race is a long one, the race of life. For us to live well, to run well, we all need people to encourage and support us on the journey.
The other day I received an e-mail out of the blue from a church leader in Hong Kong that I had helped to bring to faith 24 years ago. It was so encouraging to be reminded of something that God had done through me. As a church we are reading through the Bible in a whole year and one of the things that strikes me in the New Testament is both the need for and the use of encouragement. In Rom 12:8 there is a reminder of the gift of encouragement. All of us at some level can be encouragers. Maybe this month let’s pause to think of someone who has impacted our lives in the past and send them text or e-mail about it, maybe just think of a way of encouraging one of your friends or family. It maybe a Life Group leader or a ministry leader, or maybe a colleague at work.
Genuine encouragement is powerful, it can help to pick up the broken, heal the weak, and sustain those who are running well. The world is being changed and will be changed by those who encourage and affirm. Let’s be people of encouragement and find an opportunity to pray for and encourage someone this summer.
With my thanks and prayers for you.
God Bless, John.
Our Church Building Reordering project is wholly dependent on us having the money to pay for it
In this second article about our Church building Reordering plans, I will give you the hard facts about what is needed in the building; about what your money will be spent on; and about the plans we have in place for getting the best value for money.
Re-ordering the Church building is essential because Continue reading
St. John’s House, a former Church of England Nunnery and orphanage, provides a Christian presence and a green oasis of peace and calm in the heart of Alum Rock, an urban multi-faith area of East Birmingham. Or at least it was peaceful until, in May this year, when members of MADD descended upon it and turned it into a phrenetic hive of activity. The six of us, Andrew du Boulay, Roger Tiffin, Neil Pearce, Peter Dane, Ron Porter and myself, had been invited by James and Mel Lynch who work with Interserve at St John’s and have been mission partners with Christ Church since they left All Nations in 2007. Continue reading
Greenbelt is different from other Christian festivals. For starters it doesn’t even describe itself as such in its publicity material.* Yet the whole festival stops everything onsite on Sunday morning for an open-air family-friendly communion service attended by thousands. For us it is one of the highlights.
At other times you may find us in a packed out venue listening in to a talk by a distinguished speaker with whom we don’t necessarily entirely agree….
Or attending a small worship and/or reflective service led by Christian Aid, Taize, the Northumbrian or Iona communities or other.
Or sitting on a high bank overlooking the glorious lake leading up to the beautiful Boughton House in whose grounds the festival is sited. This bank is designated a quiet zone and a lovely spot in which to soak up God’s peace and presence.
Or queuing up for some time in order to find a seat for some comedy, slam poetry, theatre or other extravaganza. We usually manage about 20 minutes of one of the bands before our eardrums start to protest. Continue reading
Christy Wimber and Katharine Welby will be leading on the theme of Wholeness.
Saturday, September 22, 2018 – 10:00am to 4:00pm
All Saints Church, Woodford Wells
Sharing their own story, their own struggles and their own insights from seeing healing as well as not seeing healing take place. Meeting people from all kinds of backgrounds who, for the first time, felt heard and encouraged by the Church in addressing their struggles without fear of rejection. They have welcomed and encouraged many Church leaders providing them with helpful insights and materials for the local Church.
These events give us all the opportunity to see how we, the Church, see the world in front of us. How we serve those God sends along our path, still believing God is Rapha, our healer, yet not disregarding the many who fight chronic illness or various conditions where they haven’t seen God heal.
During our time together, we will look at the meaning, the purpose & the goal of healing. Christy and Katharine will be working together to share various insights and stories concerning the health of the whole person. Together, they will teach about what it looks like to step into our communities, breaking stigma to become places of refuge & healing. We’ll be taking time to look at different areas of healing (physical and emotional) as well as time to minister in the power we so desperately need to serve as God has called us to love and serve.
Whether you have mental illness, are caring for someone, are a Church leader, health care worker or someone who would like to learn how to serve the world around us by ministering in healthy ways, this day will surely encourage and equip you.
Tickets cost £25 per person.
To book tickets visit
It is now less than seven months before we are due to move out of Christ Church and the work on redeveloping the building commences!
Many people and groups are working on moving the project forward, including:
• The Building Management Committee drawing together all aspects of the project.
• The Building Committee and subgroups working on the final details of the plans to be ready to offer contractors to tender for the work. Continue reading
How it works
• When we receive a prayer request we will email the request to the Prayer Chain and activate the phone Prayer Chain.
• One of the Prayer Chain co-ordinators call the first person in the phone chain and share the request. They then ring the next person with the request and so on until the last person receives the request. The last person rings the coordinator to confirm completion of the chain.
“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.” – Oswald Chambers
• Please pray immediately. Continue reading
For the last four and a half years, we have been in partnership with Christians Against Poverty to provide a free debt counselling service to our local community. During that time, we’ve seen God answer prayers, change lives, bring freedom, restore hope. It’s never an easy road though and it usually has some fairly big bumps along the way, but for those who are able to stick with it, the freedom that comes when debt is gone is worth the difficulties.
When we first started out, we met some others who were already running a debt centre and we were inspired by one centre that was running a weekly drop-in. At the time, we didn’t feel able to offer that ourselves but at the start of this year, we decided we were ready to give it a try and opened our weekly CAP Café.
So what’s the point? Most of all, it’s a place build friendships! The Café is open to present or former CAP clients (and friends!) and to the CAP support team and it is to create a space where we can fulfil an important part of being church – we connect others to the God who loves them. Continue reading
‘Our church is an Eco Church’ If someone asked you, could you tell them what Eco Church is all about? There have been several reminders this past year filling you in, but I wonder whether you have picked up the emphasis: WE are part of Eco Church. It’s not just that our church is an Eco Church, but we are an Eco Church.
Yes, that’s right, you and me, we are all in this together.
Read on to discover more about how you can be actively involved.
(If this is all news to you see later for a summary of the story of the last two years…..)
In April we invited Simon Brown from
A Rocha to preach and he gave a clear call to redoubling our efforts to confront how our western lifestyle is causing serious damage to the global environment including the UK. He taught from scripture how God has called us to work to care for his environment, and to become champions of the cause.
Getting Drastic on Plastic
Following David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II series on TV, in this past year we have organised two litter picks (one after a delay due to snow in March!) and we have focussed on plastic pollution. Of 14 bags collected recently, five were filled exclusively with plastic waste. We displayed some of these bottles on the notice board outside, and also inside the church, to draw attention to this unacceptable waste, and the environmental harm it is causing.
This has become a No 1 environmental concern because of the harm to aquatic and airborne wildlife, as well as the cost to the countryside. Only this month, a whale starved to death with 80 plastic bags found in its stomach – over 8kg of plastic! This was documented, but many more animals of many more species are affected by this pollution. It has been estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish!
We also invited you to consider a Lenten fast from Plastic (see last magazine). I wonder how this worked for you? Has it begun to change your lifestyle?
Shrinking our footprint and going for Gold! Continue reading
“Enlarge the place of your habitation. Stretch out your cords. You who desire more of Me you do well and I would give you more. But do you not know that I have already come to you and fill all the space you have given Me?
I am He who comes, comes again and ever comes. Yet I am humble. I will not force myself on you, but wait for you to open your door wider… to make more room and to invite Me in.
I am with you. I am in you. Yet when you pray your mind addresses an image of Me that is outside you. As if I was far away and not sharing the life you think of as yours. How can I seem so far away when I am so close? So close that your eyes cannot focus and see Me?
I am the way, the truth and the life. I own your life. It is mine. But your thinking limits what I can do in you. I wait, a well of life-giving water within you that is drawn from at times but flows only a trickle in season.
Enlarge your dwelling place. Stretch out your mind. Enlarge your thinking and look within to the place where I, the Eternal, dwell. Widen your understanding that the trickle may become a flowing river and the river a flood.”
What price, Freedom?
and the padlock springs
and the door swings open
and I breathe uncontaminated air –
No, not breathe –
For it’s scary stuff, Lord, this freedom,
these new upper-case imperatives:
ESCAPE! RELEASE! BE RESTORED/TRANSFORMED!
EMBRACE! RESOLVE! REPENT!
And part of me would prefer to return to
the dark and cobwebbed corners
that have befriended my thraldom.
It’s not as easy as one click –
as easy as ‘Click and Collect’.
In the smaller print, they say – more like –
it’s ‘Click and Pay’.
Is there a price, Lord?
If there’s a ransom or an entry fee –
I can’t pay up.
My child, I know.
I know you can’t.
So I’ve paid the price on the ticket
And, yes, it cost me.
So let me now empower this liberty,
Let me amplify your ‘Yes’,
Let my Spirit breathe the truth of your new status
permeating your story
as you get to know your liberator
and the power of his love.
The Grass Isn’t Always Greener:
We’ve all heard the phrase: “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Like many of our phrases its origins are lost in the passing of time.
A Latin proverb cited by Erasmus of Rotterdam was translated into English by Richard Taverner in 1545, as:
“The corne in an other mans ground semeth euer more fertyll and plentifull then doth oure own.” (The corn in another man’s ground seems ever more fertile and plentiful than our own does.)
The poet Ovid takes this further, saying in his “Art of Love” (1 BC) that “the harvest is always richer in another man’s field.”
As far as modern English sources, this idiom has been popular since at least the early 1900’s, evidenced by the fact that a song recorded in 1924 by Raymond B. Egan and Richard A. Whiting carried its wording, “The Grass is Always Greener in the Other Fellow’s Yard.” Continue reading
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If you follow me on twitter @hookwayjohn you would have seen this quote at the beginning of Lent. It reflects the hope and purposes of God. At Christmas we remembered that the light has come into the world and the darkness could not overcome it (see John 1:5). Jesus himself became one of us, full of grace and life and truth.
During Lent we get to reflect on who Jesus is and who we are in the light of him. As we look at Jesus, we see someone who brings life, grace, hope, healing, forgiveness and freedom, but we also see someone who entered into life’s sadness and sorrows – its thorns.
We see this acutely as we look at ‘Good Friday’, the one who was innocent (Jesus) taking on the pain and sin of the world. One thing that clearly stands out on Good Friday is the crown of thorns. Why a crown and why of thorns? When everything went wrong as recorded in Genesis 3, one of the results was that there was a distance between God and us, (that death entered the world) as well as the fact that the ground would be cursed and produce thorns and thistles (Gen 3:17/18).
However, because of Jesus’ death, he took the curse on himself (Deut 21:23) and because of his resurrection we too can live. This means that on the cross the curse is reversed, and we see now in Hebrews 2:9, that Jesus is ‘crowned with glory and honour because He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.‘
As Christians we no longer need to fear death because Jesus has died for us. In Jesus we have eternal life, but the crown of thorns reminds us it goes further. The very ground, the ways of the world, the thistles and the suffering are not just reversed but they are transformed.
What it means is that for us, any situation can be transformed by the power of God. In any situation, even in the midst of sorrow or thorns. God himself will be with us, can hold us, and we can receive his love.
But beyond that, if God is about transforming thorns into glory, then we, as his followers too, should be about transforming thorns into glory. What we see in the crown is God’s Lordship transforming the world to be more like his kingdom. That means for us, the transformation of our world and community.
As we are embarking on the transformation of the physical building of Christ Church, it too points to our role in transforming our community and of God transforming our lives.
May we take time this Easter to reflect on the transforming power of God, and the opportunities for us to partner with Him in transforming our community.
With every blessing John.
All of us have decisions to make about how we manage our own household finances. For example, we need to buy food every week as, whether we like it or not, we need to eat to survive! However, there are other types of expenditure that require a lot of forward planning and saving. Something really special, like saving for a wedding or for a house deposit. The challenge that we have in those situations is that the cost of daily life still needs to be met, even when we are saving up for the really special occasion!
Church finances have much the same challenge! Together we are saving up for the redevelopment of the church. It’s something really special and it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event and it will need all of us to play our part and contribute in whatever way we can. But alongside that, the day to day costs of the church still needs to be met in order to enable the ministry of the church to continue to thrive and to bring the good news of Jesus to the community of Ware, and beyond. Continue reading
“Church reordering refers to the rearrangement and adaption of churches, while retaining their primary purpose as places of worship”
It was in the 1980’s that the first efforts were made to reorder our Church building. Now, 30 years later, we plan to bring this to fruition. Over the next 4 issues of the Newsletter, I shall be explaining the plans that we have in place, detailing exactly what you can expect the reordered building to be like, and highlighting the resources that we need to deliver the plan. This is what you will see in our Church building for Christmas 2019.
As you walk from New Road to the Church building on a Sunday morning, you’ll see the new glass-panelled oak doors, wide open for you to enter through inner glass doors at the west end of the Church. By opening up the west end, we make it easier for everyone to enter the building, with wider access for buggies and wheelchairs , and space in the new lobby to shake off the rain before entering the body of the Church. In the lobby will be two toilets, including one for those with less mobility. It will be a bright and welcoming entrance lobby with a floor mat made from recycled materials. Continue reading
Our service literally saves lives. It keeps families together, relieves stress, restores health, keeps families in their homes, provides friendship and can connect people to church and to the God that loves them.
When financial trouble hits, it’s easy to feel alone and like no one can help, however Christians Against Poverty (CAP) really can help, and is already helping hundreds of people who call up every week.
Combining CAP’s expertise, with the love and message of the church, we have a life transforming mix. Every year, nationally, CAP helps nearly 19,000 people towards freedom from debt and sees over 1,000 people become Christians through the Debt Help work as well as 10,000 people benefiting from our CAP Money Course. There are 156 job clubs, which have helped over 1,000 people find work. And 79 churches are running release groups, helping over 200 people to find freedom from life-controlling additions so far. There are also 93 churches running courses in life skills.
CAP’s debt help service visits people in their own homes, negotiates with creditors and supports people right up until they are debt free. On top of this, the whole service is free of charge and available to anyone regardless of age, faith, gender or background.
Here at Christ Church, we run a debt centre, providing local support to those struggling with debt. We also run money courses from time to time. Springs Church has a job club which meets weekly and has run a few release group programmes over the last few years. Christ Church also uses some of the life skills material for one-to-one coaching. All of this enables us to support one another and our community with life-changing care and support in those times when we are most vulnerable and struggling! If you would like to get more involved with any aspect of this work, do speak to me and I would be delighted to explore this with you.
Disabilities come in many forms and not all are obvious. A white stick, crutches or a wheel chair are obvious but hearing aids these days are very unobtrusive.
Last year I had to admit that my hearing was getting worse and was fitted with hearing aids. While these do help in small groups and face to face, I am still struggling in larger groups and open spaces, and where there is a lot of background noise. This has been said by others with hearing aids too.
So on behalf of those of us with hearing problems please would you bear in mind that it is lovely to be in a group praying together or in a discussion group, if we can’t hear what is said it is somewhat isolating and inhibits participation (has someone said that already, what was that name, problem, date to remember). So please lift your head and possibly raise your voice so as to be heard by all. So speakers that is why we may not laugh at your joke, we didn’t hear the punch line!