Here’s an update for those of you who like to stay in touch with our plans and pray for us.
Admittedly, when we first shared with you late last year that we were moving on from Bearwood Chapel, we hoped that by Easter, things would be much clearer about where we might end up next. Well, the reality in one respect is that we are no further forward! If there were a few possible irons near the fire in December, it seems that there is at least an equal number (perhaps different ones) but no nearer.
And yet of course, we are further forward because time is not wasted. It is simply that we have been having to learn that old lesson from the Lord again about not rushing and having patience. It has been good to see that this is not something novel and unique in our experience. You may have read this article the other day where I talked about the apostle Paul’s experience of pushing at doors only for them to be closed and finding himself thwarted and frustrated. Of course we cannot truly be thwarted and frustrated when God is sovereign, it’s just sometimes it takes a little time for us to get with the programme and see the direction he is taking us.
So, as things stand, it looks like we’ll be here in the West Midlands through until the summer at least. However, I’m encouraged that this hasn’t been wasted time. In fact, the first few months of the year have already been busy.
First of all, I’ve contributed a chapter to a book coming out in May called “The pastor with a thorn in his side.” It’s edited by my good friend Steve Kneale and brings together the stories of seven pastors. We wanted to contribute to the conversation about mental health and particularly as it touches on pastoral ministry. The book is all about what it is like for a pastor to face depression and for his church too. We hope it will be helpful for pastors going through suffering in ministry and churches wanting to know how to support them. But we also think that opening up the conversation will be helpful for others suffering from mental illness and those walkig with them.
I’ve also been giving a bit of time back to Bearwood Chapel in sad circumstances due to the sudden death of a young man who was part of the church family. He had suffered with depression and anxiety which meant that he found it difficult to get out to church but had become part of our house group. His funeral was a couple of weeks back which I took and I’ve been working with one of the elders to support his family. He also had many friends on Facebook including quite a few in the States. Please pray for family and friends at a difficult time, particularly that the funeral and message from John 16 about the hope we have will have been helpful.
Sarah and I have also been enjoying teaching and refreshment as we’ve joined with Church Central South since the New Year. Church Central is one of the 2020 Birmingham church plants. For the past 10 years they’ve functioned as a multi-site church across Birmingham but shortly before the pandemic they felt it was right to begin transition each site to being a church with its own elders. The churches remain closely connected to each other and continue to share a number of resources.
We’ve been really excited to see how this church faced the challenges of lockdown by encouraging the development of their community groups. Through a wellbeing course and then Alpha, they’ve engaged with a number of non-Christians throughout the lockdowns and seen several put their trust in Christ. There’s been real joy over the past few weeks as we’ve been able to watch back some recent baptisms on YouTube. We are also looking forward to meeting some of our new friends in person over the next few weeks as we move out of lockdown having met them only on Zoom so far.
I’ve talked about my desire to continue having some input into encouraging urban mission and church planting. So, I’ve continued to be busy providing output on Faithroots including weekly live seminars. Since Christmas we’ve been covering the Doctrine of Creation and having finished off a book study in Deuteronomy have begun to tackle Romans. I’m also enjoying running something called The Daily Dose where we open up a passage of Scripture each morning. We’ve already worked through one of my favourite books of the Bible, Ephesians. The aim of Faithroots Live is primarily to provide extra training and teaching for those in urban contexts who might not be able to access seminary type training. If you think this would be helpful to anyone, please link them up with us. If you are interested in finding out more about this side of what I’m doing, please get in touch. Or if you want to support this area of Gospel ministry, click here.
I hope that you are enjoying the provision on Faithroots, please get in touch and let me know if there’s any particular areas you’d like me to cover whether through blog articles, a pdf booklet or video.