Leadership Matters

Leadership Matters – Guest Post by Simon Benham

Today is the first day of Kerith hosting the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. This is an annual leadership development gathering which takes place at Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago every August, and then is taken via video to over 250,000 people around the world in 120 countries. If you’ve never been before then please plan to come next year, or to one of the events running around the country later in the year – you own’t regret it.

Leadership matters. Wherever in the world you find a successful church, football team, charity, company or nation then you will invariably find great leadership. Not great as the world might define it. Probably not chest thumping, gladiator style, hugely charismatic, alpha males who conquer all before them, but the sort of leaders Jim Collins describes in his book Good to Great. Leaders with a deep personal humility, but at the same time a steely resolve to do whatever it takes to make their venture succeed. Leaders not worried about who gets the credit as long as the work gets done, without a huge ego or chip on their shoulder but with a deep inner resolve that won’t allow them to be deflected from their call, whatever the opposition.

 

All of us who follow Jesus are called to be leaders, because we are called to follow the greatest leader who ever lived. One who was willing to give up all of heaven’s riches and pick up a serving towel to wash us clean, who died a criminal’s death in order that we might live the life of a prince, who started a movement with 12 of the most unlikely leaders on the planet which has turned the world upside down. We may not lead a church, a company or even a nation, but we are called to give a lead in our homes, our streets, our schools and our offices. To show people a different way – the Jesus way.

 

For years I disqualified myself as a leader. Not bold enough, not self confident enough, not charismatic enough, not popular enough. I’ve come to realise that none of those things are what defines a leader. Now I focus on finding my boldness in knowing who I am in Christ, my confidence in knowing that Jesus said He would build his church, my charisma from being full of the Holy Spirit and instead of seeking popularity seeking to live a life worth imitating. That seems to me like the Jesus way.

 

Simon is married to Catrina and has three children, Zach, Jacob and Alice. For the last 8 years he has lead Kerith Community Church in Berkshire, longing to build a community which will make God visible to the world we live in. He has two labradors and is a long suffering fan of Newcastle United.

Thoughts about Unity

Thoughts on Unity – Guest Post by Liam Parker

Below I have listed 10 thoughts I have about unity. I have a big passion to see unity in the local church and with local churches! It is absolutely vital to building the church. In the same way a mother and father stand united as one voice in order to create a strong household we must stand with one mind and one spirit (Phil 2:1) so that we can build a strong church. I wrote the points without much explanation, I did this in order to create discussion. Unity is a subject that will always need addressing as it is so easy to let dividing mindsets creep into church life. So read, enjoy and discuss.

Thoughts about Unity.

1) Any community not unified is already ruined.
2) If you are not unified then sort it out before you do anything else.
3) Competition and comparison are enemies of unity
4) If you are not for unity you are automatically against it
5) Unity doesn’t mean a state of no conflict or disagreements. We must learn how to deal with conflict and disagreements properly.
6) We are always more powerful together.
7) We have different roles (leaders, organisers, ideas people, action people) but everyone is equal. One body, many parts.
8) Complete honesty is key when maintaining and creating unity.
9) Unity is everyone’s responsibility
10) Small unity equals big unity. We must sort out disagreements with individuals because disunity can escalate.

Liam Parker, youth pastor for Kerith Community Church, is passionate about reaching every young person in Bracknell and growing them in the love of Jesus.

New Creation Realities

New Creation Realities – Guest Post by Sola Osinoiki

Life in Christ is new; it is different. Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth in the book of 2 Corinthians 5:17  says: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

I wonder what New Creation Realities we should look forward to experiencing! The beginning is always a good place to start; God wanted to restore the relationship that he had with man before the fall in the Garden of Eden. To achieve this, God sent his only son Jesus Christ, through whom the concept of New Creation is born. The truth is that Man needs God, God without man is still God but Man without God is nothing. Every man has a God shaped hole that only Jesus can fill and he has paid the price for man’s return to God. On the cross of Calvary, he made the ultimate sacrifice by suffering and dying that we may have life John 10:10.

Jesus has done this amazing thing for all mankind the question however is are we living up to the standards of God for our lives? Jesus Christ has redeemed us, forgiven us, he has chosen us and His desire is that on earth we live as examples of Him. Through his death a new generation of sons and daughters will arise that would worship God in Spirit and in truth (Philippians 3:3). From the very moment that Jesus rose from the dead he made provision for all those who believe in Him to be seated in heavenly places with him, above all earthly things. All we have to do is open up our hearts to Him and allow Him to live in us, through us and with us. Jesus wants to abide in us it’s up to us to make room for him in our hearts.

As a new creation in Christ:

  1. We have a right standing with God, not because we have earned it or that we deserve it, but it is a gift from God to us all. One of the greatest realities that we have as a new creatures in Christ, is the presence of the living God. Jesus is and ought to be the Lord of our lives; we have to receive Him as both our Lord and our Saviour. We in turn should live, our lives enslaved to righteousness.
  2. We are to live according to the word of God. This becomes the new norm and standard of living for every new creation. As I look at this concept, my heart is stirred as to the depth of God’s love for us. Only love could make a way for us to become new creatures in Christ; what a beautiful exchange! On the basis of his sacrifice, it is time we allow God to really be the Lord and master of our lives – our greatest aim as new creations should be to live on earth as a complete image of Jesus Christ.
  3. We are given the ability to work in the vineyard of God. The new creation is given an opportunity to sow the seed of righteousness in this vineyard. Indeed we are truly made righteous by Christ and are now called to be agents of righteousness. Agents that bring people into a right standing with God. If you find a great deal in a supermarket you generally will tell people about it. Salvation is more than a great deal in a shop; it is a life changing event to be shared with the world.

I want to encourage you as a new creation to yield yourself totally and completely without reservation to God. Remember you are no longer sitting on the fence; you have crossed over to a new dimension of living. No longer a slave to fear.

Questions

  1. Do you feel that you have truly experienced some of the new creation realities in your life?
  2. What would life look like if you truly made Jesus the Lord and Master of your life daily?
  3. Are there things, habits or attitudes that stops you enjoying your new creation realities?

Sola Osinoiki is an Elder at Kerith Community Church, where Michael & Esther Ross-Watson worship. He is married to Kunbi and they have three children. In his day job he works as a HR management consultant in one of the 4 big four consulting firms.

God’s Greatest Gift

Exodus 33: 1-6;12-14 – Guest Post by Ben Oliver

I remember being in a preaching class, led by Ben Davies (the previous Senior Pastor of Kerith Community church) when the question came up: – “What is God’s Greatest Gift?”. It caught my attention because I didn’t know the answer for sure. I had an idea. Having spent years in kids church, I knew, like most questions you were asked in church as a kid, the answer was probably: “Jesus”. But something told me there was more. What do you think?

Today’s passage gives us a bit more insight. Have a look at Verses 1-6, then read on.

They say you don’t really value something until you’ve lost it. The people of Israel had lost something very precious in our passage today. Previously, they had just made a cow idol to worship out of their gold earrings. Ironically, they did this just as their leader Moses was up a mountain, receiving the 10 commandments, one of which was: “you shall have no other gods before me”. That is what you call really bad timing!

Well, in response to this betrayal, God pulls out of going with them on the journey to the promised land where he’s sending them. He tells them, “I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” v3.

How do they react? They are distraught:  “…They began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments” v4. They lost something most precious and realised it immediately.

We were made to be in right relationship with God. When we’re separated from Him, it hurts. That’s why a relationship with God is so much better than merely keeping religious tradition . That’s why when we’re in relationship with him, our souls still feel pain when we’re not close to him. The people of Israel were faced with being separated from God – and they were in mourning.

God’s Greatest Gift

Remember my question from the preaching class? God’s people were distraught because they had lost the greatest thing he could give them. His Presence made all the difference to Moses and to the Israelites. His Presence makes all the difference in our daily lives. God’s greatest gift to us is himself.

Look in verses 12-14 again.

Moses, the leader of God’s people, speaks with God on their behalf, pleading with him not to leave them exposed and alone. He knows what God’s people need, is God himself. As a result, God makes an amazing promise to Moses in verse 14: ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’

There was nothing better God could have given than himself. Today, right now, no matter what circumstances you face – God’s Greatest Gift he’s offering you is himself – his presence with you. You’ll know when he’s with you because he gives you rest – a peace you can’t find anywhere else, and often doesn’t make sense given the potential turmoil of your external circumstances. 

But hang on, what about Jesus?

Well, Moses paints a picture here for the role Jesus will play several hundred years later. Moses is ‘interceding’ – standing in the gap – between God and the people – acting on their behalf. Jesus is the supreme ‘Intercessor’ who, as both God and man, was the only one able to bring us into right relationship with God. He stood in the gap for us, making peace between God and man, for those who receive him. Once again, God gave us himself (Jesus) to enable that to happen.

So what’s the answer?

Did you spot that? Because God longed to give us himself, because God gave us himself in Jesus, because God gives us himself today in the person of the Holy Spirit, he says to you right now: ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ If you’ll receive him, God has always and will always give you the greatest gift – himself.

Questions:

–        Invite the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you think through: What does your day hold in store for you? Who are you meeting? What’s on your To Do list?

–        Go a little deeper: What are you most anxious about? What difficult conversations or decisions lie ahead? Why are you feeling any insecurity or anxiety? Where do you need God’s presence?

–        Speak this into every one of those parts of your day: ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ 

Ben Oliver is a pastor at Kerith Community Church, where Michael & Esther Ross-Watson worship. He is married to Beccy and they have three blond(ish) primary school daughters, who keep his house full of make-up, mess and sparkly shoes.

Rest

Hebrews 4:1-11 Rest – Guest Post by Heather Pocock

Looking at the Ten Commandments, the church still takes most seriously. Murder, stealing, adultery, lying – we still see these as wrongdoing. But many followers of Christ neglect the fourth commandment: to observe the Sabbath and to rest. Our culture is filled with striving and tension, people overworking and taking medication for their exhaustion. We wear busyness as a status symbol believing the lie that our value comes from what we do. That if we are not doing something with visible results, proving ourselves, rushing, accomplishing, and producing then we are not good enough.

Perhaps we are in need of rest.

  • Rest is a characteristic of God. “for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works,just as God did from his” (v10). We need to rest because God rested. We forget that rest is a posture that even the Almighty had. As we are created in his image, we should follow his example.
  • Rest is tied to belief: “Now we who have believed enter that rest” (v3). By believing God and knowing that he is ruler of all, it allows us to rest. When we rest, we cease striving in our own power and our own will, and stop thinking that we have to do it all. Instead we believe God’s promises and trust in faith that God’s got this. He has it covered. He’s gone before and has already won. To have faith that He is enough so we are enough. If we have a belief that God is in control, our posture is contented and at peace and still.
  • Rest is a sign of our obedience. “Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest…”(v11) So often we think that obedience looks like work. But rest is obedience. Submitting to God by putting aside our own labours and efforts and to refresh and replenish ourselves is obedience. Rest is a beautiful thing to one who is weary of striving to please God in their own strength.

To speak into the lie that our world tell us, you are just as valuable when you’re resting as when you are doing. Your value comes from Jesus, not from your productivity and accomplishments. Your body need rest to recuperate, so does our spirit, mind and soul, and we can only find that rest in Him.

It is our job to “make every effort” to rest. To prioritise our time. To protect margin in our week. To ask for help and to stop trying to do it all. Are you making every effort to enter rest?

Questions

  1. What keeps you from rest?
    1. spiritual rest – spending time with God,
    2. physical rest)
  2. What does rest and Sabbath look like in your life?
  3. Are there things you need to put into place to make rest a part of your seasonal rhythm?

Heather Pocock is a Site Pastor at Kerith Community Church, leading the Sandhurst congregation since it launched in 2013. She is a project manager with the creative arts and strategic team. She lives in Bracknell with her husband Ben, and enjoys lazy, sunny days, drawn out mealtimes with friends, reading good books and getting lost in creative projects. She tweets @Heather_Pocock and blogs at www.heatherpocock.com.Heather Pocock

You Are The Salt Of The Earth

Matthew 5:13 “You are the salt of the earth” Guest Post by Ben Pocock

When I read the Bible, I sometimes breeze over certain passages.  I skim read them if I feel I know what they are saying, and ‘get the jist’ of what they are all about. However, the Bible is so rich in content that if we ignore the temptation to breeze or skim through the passage(s), God can speak so clearly in fresh ways through a verse we have seen many times before.

This happened to me recently when I read Matthew 5, the Sermon on the Mount. I read Jesus’ messages he shared to his disciples. As I read verse 13 again, I was reminded that as followers of Christ we are called ‘the salt of the Earth’. God began to remind and refresh me with some key truths about this.

Salt is a preserving agent. It keeps food fresh, preventing decay and rot. Also, salt is used to bring the flavour out of the food. So what is Jesus telling us to do? Well, in essence, he’s not telling us what to do. He’s telling us who we are.  He doesn’t say ‘go and do saltiness’, he doesn’t tell us to ‘go and spread salt around’ (another ‘doing’ question), but instead he tells the disciples (and therefore you as a follower of him today) that ‘you are the salt of the Earth’. This is who we are.

God is far more concerned about who you are rather than what you do. But ‘being’, requires a level of involvement from you. You are needed. You!

When Jesus called us ‘the salt of the Earth’, he wasn’t telling us to do anything, rather he was reminding us who we are in the world. Followers of Christ; culture shapers; new creations in Christ who are being continuously changed into his likeness. We are people who can bring a shift in atmospheres, in decision making, in attitudes.  Ultimately, we act upon our identity, whether given by ourselves, or given by others.

As salt, we are called to be amongst others, bringing life, preserving the lives around us, being a healthy influence to the world around us and the individuals we come into contact with. Helping, loving and guiding people down healthy paths. Salt is no use to anyone if it simply sits on a dining table. Just a pinch can change the flavour of a whole meal. And let’s remember, we are not distributing a message that is detached from us. The Gospel and His impact is within us, therefore we are part of the message we are bringing! We are the salt itself, not the distributors.

Let’s be who we have been made to be. The more we embrace our identity in Christ as his beloved children, the more we will naturally be the preserving agents and flavour releasers who Jesus has already named us as.

Questions:

What impact does salt have on our food? What does this image about salt teach you about who God has created you to be?

How does it make you feel knowing that God has already called you the salt of the Earth?

How can you step into your identity as the salt of the Earth today and in this coming week?

Thanks to Ben Pocock for this guest post.

Ben Pocock is a Site Pastor at Kerith Community Church, leading the Sandhurst congregation since it launched in 2013. In 2010 he launched the Kerith Academy, a yea-long Theology and Leadership development course which he continues to lead today. He lives in Bracknell with his wife Heather, and he enjoys cricket, social media, eating good food and a listening to stories around bonfires. He tweets @Ben_Pocock and blogs at Ben Pocockwww.benpocock.com.