Tuesday, 14 June 2011

MDF - A New Battalion

Hello friends,

I was so pleased this morning as we started the second battalion of our men's discipleship group for emerging leaders.

We have a group of 6 young guys that are all like colts; full of energy, full of motivation and full of desire to get involved and explore all that God has got for them!

We had the same group of men in a 13 week discipleship course at the end of last year and they all showed great promise and abilities as they met week on week and grew and bonded together as a team.

I'm really hopeful for the future as we look at each other and explore the gifting and natural abilities that God has graced to each one and find a way to utilise them more effectively within our church community. Whether they see it within themselves or not I am of the firm conviction that these guys are the next generation for our leadership in Medway. If people can't look to these guys and follow in their direction then we are going to find in a few years that we have hit a ceiling - We must develop more leaders and invest time and resources in encouraging and pushing them to follow Christ and establish themselves within their own spheres of influence and also inter-link them within the wider body.

As I look in the Gospel's and to the ministry of Jesus I see a man that was devoted to raising up a future generation of leaders (in the disciples) - He modelled a Godly lifestyle, He taught them from the scriptures and gave them practical on-the-job ministry opportunities with regular feedback and encouragement.

We too as leaders are called to model this lifestyle to those around us, like the apostle Paul we should each be able to say "follow me as I follow Christ" - That would be my challenge to you today...

Are you confident in being able to say "follow me as I follow Christ"?
What area's of your life need to be more open to the leading of the Spirit?
What thought patterns need to be made to fall in line with scripture?
Who is watching you? Are they following you? Where are you leading them?

We are all leaders in some way or another, whether it's a husband leading a family, a wife leading her children, an older person leading a younger person, or perhaps you are leading on a peer level, or are you leading those around you in the workplace step-by-step closer towards the glory of Christ? - We are all called to be leaders, to go and make disciples and to do so under the power of the Holy Spirit!

I pray for the 6 guys that we are investing in - That they will be encouraged and built up over the coming 6 months as we study the scriptures together, praise and worship God together, dedicate ourselves to praying for one another and the church and move out in new ways to spread good news to those God has placed around us - I trust they each will discover new depths in Christ and find greater identity in Him as we work with each other collectively under the Spirit's leading.

And I pray for you as you read this that you will joyfully examine yourself closely and ask God to highlight areas of your life that need refining, area's where more breakthrough is required, area's where you perhaps need to lay some things down and get to deeply know the fact that you are a child of God before you try to carry too much and slip into performance mode - God loves you and desires you, not what you do, just you and your heart, and from that place of knowing you are forgiven and accepted and fully qualified and loved as His child He will set you on a new course that will transform your life as you begin to have more influence upon the world around you - And it's all to reveal His glory!

Be encouraged!

Gordon :)

Monday, 13 June 2011

LT Foundations - Done!

Hi friends,

Friday & Saturday just gone saw the final two sessions of my 2nd year of leadership training at Downham in S. E. London.

We had the wonderful pleasure of Matt Hosier taking us through sexual ethics on Friday & Andrew Ryland explaining Biblical Theology on Saturday.

Having now completed 2 years of study, accompanied with several assignments and having made lots of new friends I can honestly say that LT Foundations has been a real asset to me and my development as an emerging leader.

Mick Taylor who heads up the London training base is a real fatherly figure with a definite Ephesians 4 teaching gift and his assistant, Morne Smit, is a great guy who has helped administrate us into action and keep us to our deadlines and made us aware of all that we should be aware of!

A real bonus was getting an A+ for one of my ministry assignments - A men's discipleship course based on Doctrine by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears. Mick said it was a 'formidable' piece of work and he asked if he could use it in his local setting in Catford - Sweet!

It was the only A+ that Mick has awarded this year so I was personally massively encouraged and it really got me thinking about some of the things I'm currently involved in and some of the things that I feel God has laid on my heart for the future.

As we continue in a season locally of strengthening stakes and within that re-assessing roles and responsibilities I'm of the personal conviction that much good will come as we refine and restructure according to Gods plan for us in our local church and move into developing the gifts that He has given us to encourage each other, reach out to a broken world and to bring glory to His name.

I start LT Advanced in September, it's 3 days a month and has a particular emphasis on preaching and teaching. This is one of the areas that I am keen to develop and it seems there may be increasing opportunities to be involved in this on a more regular basis. Having preached several times now I know it's something that God has called me to do but also recognise that it's an area that I really need to work hard to develop, so getting the feedback of great men like Mick and my peers on the course will be of real benefit in the months to come.

It's difficult to really put into words what God has added onto me over the last 2 years of training, but I would massively encourage any Christian to undertake some form of formal training/education in doctrine and theology. It transforms your walk with God, it adds knowledge, a depth and breadth that can rarely be found from just reading a book or listening to a podcast/mp3.

But for me the real highlight has been the genuine friendships that have developed over the past 2 years, and I look forward to seeing many of these folks over the years to come!

Thank you God for these opportunities to explore the depths of your word and for the great friends you have given me along the way!


Gordon :)

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Alpha International Conference 2011


This week started off on Monday with a rare, early morning train trip from Strood up to South Kensington for the Alpha International Conference at HTB Brompton Rd.

I travelled up there all on my own (I'm a big boy now!) and to be honest even amongst the 1,000+ people that were in attendance there I really did feel alone, to the point where I even text Natalie (my wife) to let her know I was feeling a bit sorry for myself!

As I sat near the back of the hall and looked around at the inside of HTB, the balcony they have that overlooks the raised stage and the ornate building that lies beyond the worship band I thought to myself how cool it would be to stand up there and preach, or talk, or do something just to experience the atmosphere of 700+ people (the rest were in another building somewhere!) looking on and sharing in whatever you have to bring.

Anyway, during one of the worship times there was an announcement for anyone that became a Christian on an Alpha course that didn't have any real experience of church beforehand. They asked that we go down into a separate side room so they could hear of our experiences, so once the worship finished I made my way down the staircase into their Spring room.

A team of people were inside and they began to ask all of the people that went in there to share a brief testimony over just 30 seconds (man that's quick!).

We all took it in turns and after giving a whistle-stop tour of my life before, during & after Alpha one of their team asked if I could return to the room later on that day at 18:15 so Nicky Gumbel could hear my story.

The rest of the day at the conference was great, I felt personally encouraged after recalling all of the amazing things that God has done in my life, and I genuinely was looking forward to speaking with Nicky in a personal setting, or so I thought!

18:15 soon came around and I made my way back to the Spring room. There were about 12 others in there too who had all been asked to return as they each had stories that were encouraging to hear.

Nicky walked into the room with his wife Pippa. He spoke to each of us and asked to hear our stories, and then he dropped the bombshell, he wanted us to get up in front of everyone to be interviewed by him during the evening session of the conference - I was so pleased considering my thought earlier in the main meeting about how great it would be to speak to a packed HTB.

A few of the people that had been invited back were, however, not so keen! They were terrified at the prospect of speaking in front of others and soon left!

Nicky & his team drilled us as to how it was all going to work, they put us in order (I was first up!) and then they led us up into the main meeting to the side of stage.

After about 5 minutes of Nicky laying a foundation for what was to come I was then invited up.

It was one of the most encouraging thing's I've ever done, more so from a personal perspective, just being up there being interviewed for a couple of minutes was great, having a look around and seeing so many people, it really was fun! I've shared my testimony tons of times and for much longer than 2 mins but it really was an awesome experience and I really thank God for that opportunity to share the story of His glory revealed through the way He redeemed my hopeless life!

After I had finished I was then approached by a member of Nicky's staff who asked if I would mind being interviewed for the Alpha Newspaper that they print monthly! So the next day I conducted a 20 minutes interview and posed for a few pics in the sun in the HTB garden!

I'm still struggling with the fact that from out of nowhere God opened up a great door of opportunity for me that brought personal encouragement in a time when I was feeling a bit despondent and I pray that my piece in the Alpha news impacts the life of those that read it and encourages them to search and find the true living God that will bring them life and freedom as only He can!

God is amazing and He loves engineering opportunities for us to share and speak about Him.

It reminded me of the verse that says:

1 Peter 3:15
..in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

I would personally want to encourage you, if you are a Christian, to make sure that you can clearly communicate the reason you believe in Christ

What was your life like before you encountered Him and what is it like now as a result of following Him?

Much love,

Gordon :)