by Jon Lawn
Only three months…?
Three months on from sending out our Lordshill site and I’m reflecting on the journey we’ve been on, whilst considering what we focus on going forward. “Has it only been three months?” I ask myself; it seems like forever! This has to be testament in part to the huge effort and commitment of all at Life Church to see this endeavour succeed.
God’s grace has been abundant; to pastor people through a period of change is a challenge and we’ve been delighted to see Life Church wholeheartedly grab this vision and run with it. The levels of faith and commitment have been outstanding – from opening up Lordshill at 7:30am to hosting a sunday meeting at West End for the first time – it’s wonderful to see giftings released and people stepping out in faith. We have more than 75 people serving in teams across all three sites every Sunday! Wow!
Over £40,000 was given at our multi-site gift day in late 2017, which has been used as a seed payment for the rent of the Lordshill site Sunday venue for 1 year, appointment of a multi-site administrator in the office, set-up and equipping of kids work in new sites and the purchasing of equipment to enable us to run three, rather than one, sunday meetings. Thank you church for your generosity in giving to enable this to happen!
In this busy period, it’s important to remember that we serve God first and foremost, and that He is our strength and refuge (Psalm 46:1) – keep returning to Him.
Genuine Love for each other
Paul’s letters in the New Testament constantly use family language and analogies illustrating the closeness of relationship we should have as brothers and sisters in Christ. This is something we want to reproduce at Life Church.
It’s our desire for a closeness in relationships to be maintained and deepened across sites. Genuine love and desire for the Central, West End and Lordshill sites to do well is key for us to maintain unity and fellowship. We should be cheering each other on, investing in keeping great levels of communication and most importantly, be devoted to praying for each other. Let us not fall into the mindset of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
There are snippets in Paul’s letters that show how eager he is to hear news, and share news with churches. He sends greetings to specific friends and brothers as well as passing on messages from others – ‘Timothy my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen’ (Rom 16:21); ‘Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house (Col 4:14-15). His genuine love for those churches is so clear and something we should take inspiration and example from. We rarely write letters to each other anymore, but the principle of sharing news, rejoicing with each other, lifting each other up in prayer, supporting each other in times of suffering should transcend sites. I love hearing the snippets of news and stories that come back to us at Central – it’s so encouraging and faith building to hear of salvations and testimonies of God’s greatness across all our sites. Only this week I heard of devotion in prayer leading to huge changes of circumstances for members of one of our sites and this urged me on in my commitment to pray. These sorts of testimonies shout of God’s greatness and should be eagerly shared.
Those of us who have been part of Life Church for a year or more will have the memory of the ‘pre multisite era’, when some Sunday meetings at Taunton’s were 200+ and we were bulging at the seams! As we have launched the West End and Lordshill sites over the last 9 months the strength of existing relationships have been key in maintaining our levels of unity. We should remember Marion Groves word about the strength of our church being as strong as the strength of our relationships. We have #donelifetogether for many years – but our unity will not be maintained on past experiences alone. We must invest in pushing forward on mission together under a shared vision.
It is no coincidence that our current preaching series in 1 Corinthians is called ‘A Great Church’ and the same message is preached in each of our three sites. As we build together in different areas of the city, a solid biblical understanding of the type of church we are building is essential, as is a shared vision for this city. Shared teaching and application in Life Groups as well as whole church prayer meetings help us maintain unity as we allow God to lead us by his voice and through the scriptures.
I am excited about meeting new members of our family who are part of different sites – our Life Church family seems to be growing each week! Can I encourage others to apply Paul’s principle of warm greetings, particularly to those he hasn’t met before, but who are part of the wider family?
One Church moments
As our sites develop their own characteristics, local vision and get stuck into serving the community, one church moments, such as the upcoming OneChurch Conference become increasingly important in keeping us connected. It’s been great to hear of ‘OneChurch moments’ – whether they are organised, such as Real Life Women and Men evenings, or organic gatherings of people who just want to hang out. The new youth group is an opportunity for our children to share in those moments too. Whether organised or organic do continue to invest in these and invite others along too.
John Groves’ recent teaching encouraged us to keep Word and Prayer central, but also to invest in community and moments when a trumpet call is sounded to bring us together. The OneChurch conference is one such moment. Hear the trumpet call Life Church! It’s my prayer we pause and find rest in this one church moment; that we gain momentum and excitement for the mission that God is calling us too across all sites; bringing unity and a knitting together that keeps us even closer on mission together.
I’m looking forward to hanging out with people I haven’t seen for a while, and meeting new members of our family!