From the pastor’s pen: Consecrate yourselves
“Then Joshua said to the people, ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you’” (Joshua 3:5)
For many of us, September marks the beginning of a brand-new year. This is certainly true for our Church calendar, as we tend to organise it a full year in advance during the month of August. This feels especially true this year as this month is marked by very significant landmarks: on one hand, the launch of our first ever campus at Shadsworth. On the other, the beginning of a new chapter in Emmanuel’s ministerial journey as he becomes my (first!) assistant. On a personal level, this year will be quite significant for Valentina and I as we will both be going through some major transitions which we are convinced have been inspired by the Lord in preparation for the upcoming ministry expansion.
As I was considering the beginning of this new chapter, my attention was drawn to Joshua 3 and the events that marked Israel’s crossing of the river Jordan ahead of the Canaanite conquest and the fulfilment of centuries of divine promises. Like us, they too were (quite literally) crossing over into a new chapter in their national journey. Yet, before getting on with it, Joshua called Israel to do two things that I felt carried much significance for us too.
On one hand, Joshua commanded the heads of the respective 12 tribes to pick up 1 stone each from the middle of the river Jordan (temporarily dried up by God’s power) and set them up on the other side as a memorial. That speaks of thanksgiving and gratitude for what God had done for Israel up to that point. In the same way, I felt it’s important for us as a Church to take a moment to consider all that the Lord has done for us in the past few months and express our gratitude for taking us thus far.
On the other hand, Joshua called Israel to “consecrate” themselves “for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you”. Consecration simply means setting something or someone apart for a specific purpose - just like your fancy china is “consecrated” for special occasions. In the same way, Israel was called to set themselves apart to God and his purposes, as He would finally begin to fulfil them in their midst by supernatural intervention. This call really stood out to me, reminding me of the importance of consecration among God’s people for the sake of the fulfilment of God’s purposes in our generation – especially in a generation characterised by a very superficial and casual approach to faith. Just as that generation in Israel would have never seen the fulfilment of God’s purposes apart from consecration, so it is for us. For the Lord will never fulfil his purposes through casuals, but only through the consecrated, individuals that choose to set their lives apart from “civilian pursuits” to dedicate them to God and his kingdom purposes, valuing him above anything and anybody else.
My prayer is that, as we move forward in God’s purposes, we ditch any casualness and superficiality in our faith and walk to rediscover and fully embrace consecration, making the choice to live for Him and for the fulfilment of his purposes – not out of a sense of compulsion or duty, but out of love and thanksgiving for the one who laid his life down for us. “Tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you” – let us make sure we do not miss out.
New service structure
Sunday 22nd will not only mark the launch of our Shadsworth campus, but a new service structure for our morning services at the Central campus. Given that our Sunday morning family service is by far the best attended meeting, we have felt the need to invest more in it. From Sunday 22nd, our morning services will run from 10.30am to 12.30pm and will include dedicated time to welcome newcomers, respond to God’s word as well as monthly opportunities to share testimonies. We will also be introducing “Beacon Moments”, opportunities for our people to share stories of realities we value and want to celebrate at our Church, how they managed to shine with the light of Jesus in various circumstances, both in word and in deed. Testimonies and Beacon Moments will be featured the last Sunday of every month. If you would like to share at such times, please inform Pastor Simon.
This new format will run on a trial basis until the end of the year. We would very much value your comments and feedback.
From Sunday 22nd, our teams will be running services at our Shadsworth campus every Sunday afternoon. This means that, from then onward, we won’t be able to run our usual intercession nights at 6.30pm at our Central campus. Instead, the intercession nights will run the last Wednesday of every month, as well as at other special times throughout the year (such as weeks of prayer and fast).
This new schedule will run on a trial basis too until the end of the year. Again, we would very much value your comments and feedback about it as we progress.
Full calendar on ChurchSuite!
The 2019/2020 Church calendar is now available on ChurchSuite. For those of you who may be new, ChurchSuite is a Church app that gives our Church members access to a number of features straight on their phones, such as:
It also gives our users control of their personal details and important information regarding their children, such as allergies and special needs. They system is fully GDPR compliant and only open to our Church family.
If you would like more info about it or would like to join, please see Emmanuel or Valentina.
Shadsworth love offering
On Sunday 22nd, we will be collecting a special offering for our new campus in Shadsworth. Kingdom advancement is amazing, but it comes with both practical and financial challenges. We are absolutely convinced that the Lord will always supply the necessary resources for the fulfilment of his kingdom purposes, but he also calls us to mirror his generosity with a cheerful heart! If you are a “cheerful giver” and would like to donate toward this project and the change it will make to an entire community, please make sure to mark your donation as “Shadsworth campus”. Thank you all very much for your ongoing faithfulness and generosity!
RISE prayer night
Our next RISE night of prayer and intercession for our beloved Blackburn with Darwen will take place on Tuesday 17th at 7.30pm at Revidge Road United Reform Church (Shear Brow, Blackburn BB1 8DS). The theme for the night will be “Food and child poverty in the Borough” and our special guest will be Gill Beeley, Development Coordinator for Together Lancashire.
Starting this month, Pastor Simon will commence a Master Degree in Leadership with Alphacrucis at Audacious! Church in Manchester. The decision has been prompted by his need for further growth and development in the area of leadership and management ahead of ministry expansion and having to lead multiple campuses. The course is spread-out over 4 years and its program is very flexible, specifically designed for leaders with already very busy schedules. It will also provide great opportunities for Pastor Simon to work alongside, learn from and connect with a number of great leaders – such as Glynn Barrett (the new AoG Director). Given the nature of the training and the benefit it will bring to the Church, the leaders have decided for the Church to endorse half of its costs despite the Pastor’s intention to cover the costs himself.
Evangelism dates – Saturday 14th and 21st at 10.30 am at the Shadsworth Hub
“Detached” intercession night – Sunday 15th at 6.30pm at the Shadsworth Hub (instead of Church)
Shadsworth campus launch – Sunday 22nd at 4pm
Holidays – Pastor Simon and Valentina will be away on leave from Saturday 28th of September to Monday 7th of October