Do you know someone looking for a gap year working with a church?
We could offer a disciple-making training course (Formation School) and experience in a variety of ministries (to suit the applicant).
We’re a church which is active in our local community (which is a mix of middle-class and housing estate).
Our staff team of 7 have been joined by a gap-year colleague for the last few years, and we’d love another one!
We would offer accommodation with a host and some pocket money.
Do get in contact with Theresa for more information.
Helen Bathard, PCC member, writes ...
A rather belated update due to me sunning myself in Majorca…
In our meeting on 12 July, we heard a further three testimonies from PCC members. It’s great hearing the stories of how people came to faith, and what’s really encouraging is the breadth and range of peoples experiences and upbringings, and the openness in which people have shared. We’d really encourage you to do this within your cell groups if you haven’t already done so, it really helps to deepen your relationships.
The majority of the meeting was taken up with everyone’s favourite subject…..finances. What stood out for me, is that giving is not just about money, and it’s not just about the financial needs of the church, it’s as much about the generosity of people’s time. And it’s also very important to know that financial giving really enables all the wonderful things that happen at the church. If you were at the annual church celebration, you will have seen the video clip of all the great things that the church has done in the last year, both in and out of church. None of that would have been possible without people’s generosity of time and money. So thank you all! If you’ve been inspired and there’s anything you’d like to get involved with, chat to Dan or any member of the PCC.
We had a visit from Gordon Randall from Winchester Diocese, and he talked us through ‘Giving for Life’, and the top 8 things that churches should focus on regarding finances. We did an interesting survey on this, and there will be some things we as a PCC will take into consideration and share with you at a later date.
We spent a bit of time looking further into the purpose statement, and we drilled it down to four, although Nigel then threw in a later entry(“serve society, build community, share Jesus”). If any of you have any great ideas for a purposes statement, please do feel free to send them in!
Final update on the buildings work….the Bat survey has now started, and there is no news as yet on the archaeological dig.
Bye for now!
Think what happens over a simple meal table - in your kitchen or in a cafe: the meal table is where you share stories, laugh at jokes, have debates, poke fun at each other, develop arguments, tell uncomfortable truths, ask forgiveness, discuss important decisions, shed tears, celebrate birthdays. Meals aren’t just about food. They’re about relationships.
Jesus ate loads of meals. So many that his opponents labelled him a glutton and a drunkard! But he ate so many meals with people because he wanted to get to know people, and he wanted people to get to know him.
Meals with Jesus almost always included a surprise - like who was on the guest list ("tax collectors and sinners"), how to feed 5000+ people with one packed lunch, what the bread and wine represented. Over the summer, we're looking at various 'meals with Jesus' from Luke's gospel.
But I don't just want us to sit and learn about Jesus. I want us to put it into practise.
Would you eat like Jesus?
I don’t mean eating reclining on your side as they often did in those days.
I mean - would you eat meals with other people? One person wryly observed that Jesus’ mission strategy was to eat and drink with others.
As I look around our church at the groups which work well - the common feature is often that they share food together. The walking groups inevitably stop for a pint, or for tea and cake. The 18-30s group often share meals together. Allsorts and Beacon host regular meals. Superstars starts with breakfast. The men’s cell goes for a curry together. Meals bond us, they deepen friendships - they leave us with more rounded stomachs - and more rounded characters for having spent time with others.
Over the summer, lots of our regular church activities and groups take a break. But none of us are going to stop eating over the summer. So let’s eat with each other, and invite others along, too.
It doesn’t need to be a posh meal - it can be beans on toast.
Your home doesn’t need to be spotless.
Your kids don’t need to be perfect – ours aren’t!
You just need to spend time with people, like Jesus did! One writer says this, “If every Christian household regularly invited a stranger or a poor person into their home for a meal once a week, we would literally change the world by eating!”
So ... eat like Jesus. Invite others around; accept invitations. Invite people you wouldn’t normally think of inviting. Change the world – by eating.
A group from St James’ by the Park ran a ‘prayer for the world’ stall at FOSJP’s international family day a few days ago. Esther Clift writes …
I wonder how you define your mission community? Mine is complex and messy – a bit like my life, really. I have lots of communities - work, home, running, and church to name but a few, and they each hold more than a hundred people!!
I’m not part of a formal Missional Community at St James’ by the Park, but I try to share the good news about Jesus’ love and salvation with anyone I come into contact with.
St James by the Park was invited to have a presence at the Bringing Communities Together event at the International Family Day, in the Park.
We had a space to pray for the world, with a large map, and stickies to note where and what to pray for. What a great opportunity to meet with folk on neutral space, and talk about what matters to them, and what matters to us too!
I was struck by the amazing privilege it is to pray and listen to people. One old friend started telling me about their recent marriage break up, and I was able to pray with another of their concerns for the drug problem among youngsters in Shirley. Others prayed of their profound shock at seeing the Grenfell Towers and all the devastation it has brought to that community.
We had people from other churches with specific hearts for ministries around the world, from the Community Church, from The Shirley Warren Action Church and some Jehovah’s Witnesses concerned for the loss of religious freedom in Russia. It was lovely to have students from St James’ by the Park, back for the summer, stopping and praying with others.
We prayed for Morocco, for Pakistan, for children in Kenya, as well as Uganda and Myanmar. We prayed for Syria, again and again, and people wanted us to pray for peace in the whole world.
So what were we really doing?
And what is God doing?
We say we’re wanting to turn our church community inside out; to be where people are at – not simply expecting people to come to us. This was one small way of doing that – meeting people from all over Shirley, some of whom would never set foot in a church building. We gave them space to connect with their spiritual side.
The Park has been a huge part of our mission over the last 10 years. The last event like this was pretty much run by the team from St James’ by the Park who secured the lottery grant, designed and oversaw the developments and the building.
But this is our community! These are people I have stood at the school gates with, worked along side, dug the park flowerbeds with, and now started running with. These are people we share life with, the highs and the lows. This is were the nitty gritty of living out ‘community’ really takes place
I’m reminded of the Hillsong chorus ‘touching heaven changing earth’, because that’s exactly what we do when we pray - asking God’s Kingdom to come here on earth, and bring healing and wholeness.
And what a privilege to be touching heaven with people we love, and in our own neighbourhood.
James Lawrence writes ...
The summer season is upon us. For some that will mean a holiday. Or will it? Will it actually mean carrying with us all the burdens of our leadership to wherever we go for a break? Will it mean checking the phone for emails/texts/WhatsApp messages? Will it mean a struggle to switch off?
I recently read a post on Why Driven People Suck at Vacations, and it got me thinking. I am someone that loves holidays and has also struggled to find a way that makes them work for me and my family. I know some of you will not understand my struggle. You find holidays easy. But for those who struggle like me…
I used to believe holidays were for rest. Isn’t that what everyone says? ‘Have a good rest.’ I now realise that for me, whilst rest is part of a holiday, it is not the whole story. Holidays are for relational renewal, re-creation and rest.
This post was originally part of the CPAS Lead On July 2017 email
As the academic year draws to a close, we spent time on Sunday 2nd July celebrating all that God had been doing in us and through us over the last year - in much the same way as Paul & Barnabas reported back to their sending church at the end of their first missionary journey (Acts 14.26-28).
This video shows some (not all!) of what's happened in the last 12 months.
In our services we made prayer bunting - prayers of thanks to God which will be in St James' by the Park over the summer to remind us of God's faithfulness to us.
In his brief talk, Dan shared 4 things with the congregation:
1. Thank you to everyone who has joined in by giving their time, talents or treasures over the last year - and especially to those who've prayed.
2. The need to be realistic - that mission in our culture is often slow and difficult work - "We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14.22). So we must persevere when the going gets tough!
3. We should be encouraged - God is definitely at work (Acts 14.27). Here's some highlights:
4. We need to keep building community. Jesus wants us to fish with nets (ie together) not lines (individually). It's as we build community that the gospel is shared and received. That's why Paul & Barnabas risked their lives to return to the cities they'd already evangelised - so they could make sure good Christian communities were being established (Acts 14.23).
And after all that, we headed out to Anderwood for a great BBQ / picnic to continue the celebrations!
What better way to enjoy the summer than with a BBQ or picnic? What better place to enjoy God's creation locally than in the New Forest? And who better to share the fun with than our brothers and sisters?!
Our annual church BBQ & picnic is a great way to make new friends and catch up with old friends. It's purely social and open to everyone - feel free to invite friends and family members. If you're in a cell group or missional community, bring them along, too.
We're holding it after our morning services on 2nd July. Arrive any time from 12.30pm onwards and leave whenever you need to. Here's the details:
Food - 3 options:
1. Buy a ticket in advance to get burgers etc (meat / veggie) cooked ready for your arrival. You provide the rest of your food and drink. Tickets cost £4 (adult portion) or £2 (child portion), and can be purchased before 6pm on Weds 28th June. Purchase your ticket now.
2. Bring all your own food and cook the burgers etc when you arrive - but there may be a queue to get them on the BBQ! (No need to buy a ticket - just turn up.)
3. Don't like BBQs? Just bring a picnic instead! (No need to buy a ticket - just turn up.)
Anderwood has car parking, toilets and space for children (and adults!) to play.
Remember to bring a picnic rug / chairs / suncream etc!
We started our evening by listening to three people sharing their stories of how they came to faith in Christ - we've been doing this each meeting recently. It's wonderful to hear how God has been at work in so many different ways.
The majority of the evening was taken up with getting the newbie members of the PCC (Helen Bathard, Sam Taylor, Hannah Brown and Peter Craggs) up to speed with what's been done so far on the buildings review. It was quite clear that although an option study was presented to us 18 months ago, there are a lot of hurdles to cross in terms of council, excavations, local community and funding. We did agree the next step in the process or working out what might be possible to do on the St James' by the Park site: a mini archaeological dig in the graveyard and a bat survey. We'll let you know when we've got the results of those surveys.
We then spent some time looking at mission statements from other churches, and talking about what our current mission is. As a group we're considering whether our mission really reflects our heart.
As it was Amy Adeniran's last PCC meeting before her maternity leave starts and curacy ends, we finished by praying especially for her - and her baby!
Till next time folks!
There’s the shopping trolley at church each week – we can fill that up with dried foods for the Basics Bank – and a big thank you to everyone who does that. That gives some individuals and families a vital lifeline.
You could join the Beacon, and help serve at their drop-in meals every 6-8 weeks in the Parish Hall. They’re building up a regular community of people who are struggling financially. (They do much more than that, but that’s one aspect of their work.)
And we already support SCRATCH – a wonderful Southampton charity who run the Dorcas Project (providing furniture and white goods to people in need) and Fareshare (distributing surplus food from supermarkets to schools and projects around the city who can target them towards those most in need).
I took a visit to see Fareshare in action. First stop – SCRATCH HQ down by the river. Kitted out in my hi-viz jacket and steelies (steel toe-capped shoes), I was ready to rumble. The van (brand new – they’re being sponsored by Ocado for three years) was already loaded with two pallets of food, packed up by the busy warehouse team.
Whilst Jill drove us to the Flowers estate, we chatted.
Q: What sort of projects does she deliver to?
A: Several schools in the Shirley area, to help them with breakfast and after school clubs and the like.
Q: What got her involved in the work?
A: She’d found herself near retirement age, unable to get a job. She heard of Scratch and thought she’d try volunteering. She started off as half a day a week. She now does 3 half days, including driving the van.
Q: What do her friends make of her?
A: They’re envious that she’s able to do it whilst they’re still working!
We arrived at the Flower Garden – current base of Bob Light, a convicted drug dealer who was converted to Christ years ago and now runs Flowers of Justice church and is unofficial pastor to the estate. Whilst unloading 30 big crates of food, he tells me that it’ll all be gone by this evening. Two ladies will help him bag it all up, then they’ll deliver it to 70-100 needy families on the estate. It’s good fresh food (including venison and other delicacies!), but with a short shelf-life.
Those families are able to eat much more healthily as well as learning cooking skills. There’s an Italian chef living rough at the moment – if Bob and his team get better premises, they might house him and get him working for them to help with that. Through the love that Bob and the team at Flowers of Justice have shown over the years, many have become Christians.
Back to the base to unload the empty crates. Time for a 2-minute chat with Mike Smith, member of our congregation and general manager of SCRATCH, in-between his meetings.
Q: How’s the project going?
A: It’s tight for money – the demand is outstripping supply of good food. They’re putting in yet more funding bids. They’re at a size where they’re too big to get grants for small charities, but too small to get the big grants.
Q: How’s it going with the volunteers?
A: 170 volunteers coming in regularly. A recently appointed volunteer development person has helped volunteers to work on their CVs and apply for suitable jobs. So far about 8 volunteers have now got paid employment. So even those doing the helping are being helped (Didn’t Jesus say, “It’s more blessed to give than to receive”?).
That was certainly backed up by a quick chat with a volunteer I recognised – she’d been a few times to St James’ by the Park and goes regularly to the Beacon drop-in meals with her partner and the child they look after. They’d experienced homelessness. Now he helps at the Dorcas project and is growing in confidence at what he can do. She helps with Fareshare and loves cooking for the volunteers. After a really rough stage in their lives, this is helping them find their feet.
And then a chance to sit down with Claire, who helps manage the Fareshare volunteers – the one who got me kitted up in hi-viz and steelies. Before the very first Fareshare delivery from Tescos, she wondered how they would ever deliver it all. Now over 170 projects receive deliveries regularly (including our own Superstars).
Before she started this job, she knew about food poverty, but didn’t really understand it. Then she went to Bob Light’s place. She met a young family who’d walked from Shirley because they heard they could get breakfast there. “That can’t be right” she thought. And now she’s completely committed to the Fareshare cause.
Q: What more could we do as a local church to support SCRATCH?
A: Two things: 1. Tell people they can come and volunteer (including on Saturdays) – whether it’s helping with paperwork or sorting food or driving vans. Come down and have a look. Go on a van and talk with the people who receive this food. Hear the stories about the difference it makes – about how children are attending school more because of the food they get; about how families are able to cope whilst they wait 8 weeks for their benefits to come through.
2. Get involved with a holiday hunger project like MakeLunch [which is something we have been considering as a church]. One school ran a project which they thought would attract 15 children over the long summer holiday. 75 came regularly. Now the parents are wanting to get involved and help this year.
I left thankful that we’re able to support SCRATCH’s great ministry in our city; thankful for the great volunteers and staff there; thankful that food waste and food poverty are being addressed in our nation more than before; thankful for Christians like Bob Light who brings Kingdom culture to many on the Flowers estate; thankful for Mike Smith and Ian Dowdell and others who bring a Kingdom culture to SCRATCH. And yes, with some questions about whether some of the work creates a dependency culture. But as Claire said, “We all depend on food, don’t we? We’re helping people survive.”
Why don’t you pay a visit? You’ll hear some harrowing stories and wonderful stories - and be hugely encouraged at what God is doing through SCRATCH.
So you love Jesus and you're keen to serve him - but how? How does what you hear on a Sunday or in your cell group link to your workplace? How can reading the Bible each day help you chat with your friends and colleagues and answer their objections to faith? How can your cell group or mission group make more of an impact for the Kingdom of God?
'Formation School' is a great course, run here in Southampton, which helps answer all of those questions. It's a course which will take you deeper into the Bible, grow your love for God and help you work out how you can serve God - at home, at work, in the community, in church. Why settle for staying as you are now - when you could be making more of an impact for God.
It runs from September to July on term-time Tuesday evenings - plus a couple of Saturdays each term. There is a charge for the course - but I'd see that as a fantastic investment in the Kingdom which will reap rich rewards. St James' by the Park may be able to contribute towards the costs if that would help.
I really cannot recommend it highly enough - it's the sort of course I'd love to have done when I was younger.
There's lots more information about it on the Formation School website. Better still, go along to one of the Tuesday evening sessions in June to get a feel for what it's like. You can contact Ruth, the administrator to get details of venue and time.
Dan and co.
Dan is vicar of St James' by the Park. Some blog posts are by him; others are by members of the congregation - with one or two guest posts thrown in for good measure!