Conformity

I’ve been watching the Great British Bakeoff avidly this series, we love it as a family and it, along with Strictly Come Dancing is required viewing in our house. This week they were working with advanced dough, and the showstopper at the end was doughnuts…two sets of 18 doughnuts, that’s 36 doughnuts that had to be delicious, look stunning, and most importantly be uniform in their presentation, bake and flavour.

This Sunday at EBC we’re hosting a Soul Survivor Sunday. While we don’t meet in a big top, we are going to take out half of the chairs, turn off the lights, get the moving head lights to turn a bit more frantically and are even getting some tents into the hall…it won’t quite be the full experience (we have proper toilets and no rain indoors…), but it will be close…and plenty silly enough to entertain and inspire everybody. The passage that we’re using for the talk, as we continue our Story series is Daniel in the lion’s den, a familiar story that many of us will have first heard at Sunday school or its equivalent.

Daniel 6

King Darius was really pleased with Daniel, who he had appointed to administer much of his kingdom. In fact he was so pleased he fully intended to promote Daniel to oversee the whole kingdom on his behalf, which greatly displeased the rest of the administrators and governors, so they did their best to find a scandal or misdemeanour from Daniel’s past that would incriminate him…but they could find nothing. So they conspired against him, and somehow persuaded the king to issue a decree that no one in the kingdom could pray to or worship anyone else other than king Darius. And whether they were very persuasive, or the king was easily persuaded…he agreed and signed the decree.

Daniel was found praying to God, so the conspirators went to the king and told him Daniel had broken the decree and so had to be thrown to the lions. When the king realised what he had done he tried to get out of it, but he had signed himself into a corner. So Daniel was thrown to the lions, a potentially grisly end…but of course we know he continued to pray and the lions would not touch him. The king couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep, and the next morning as he came nervously to the lion pit, he called for Daniel, expecting the worse. But Daniel welcomed him, honoured his God and his king and stayed safe from the lions. King Darius was delighted, and had Daniel released. What the children’s versions don’t always mention is that king Darius then rounded up the conspirators, realising they had tricked him, and had them thrown to the lions…lets say (in case children are reading) the lions were less subdued than they were when Daniel was sharing their pit…

Conformity

Daniel refused to conform. Despite the pressure of his peers, despite knowing that he would probably be sentenced to death if discovered, he continued to pray openly defying the decree and being honest to who he was. In the clip from Dead Poets Society, the late, great, Robin Williams gets his English class to take a stroll outside. After a short time they drift into step with each other…marching to the same beat, in the same direction…uniformity and conformity, as the rest of the class clap in time. As he says,

“notice how everyone starts off at their own pace, with their own stride…”.

…and

“Conformity…the difficulty of maintaining your own beliefs in the face of others. We all have a great need for acceptance, but we must trust that our beliefs are unique, are your own, even though others may think them odd, or unpopular”.

Same kind of different?

If you call yourself a Christian, which I do, then this is a fundamental. We are called to be different…we should be seen as different. Not different as in beard and sandals or vegetarian; not a stereotypical movie identikit of a Christian. But different in how we react to the world, how we treat our friends, the way we speak and act. And we should be like this all of the time. I heard a great talk from John Mumford many years ago which has stuck with me ever since. He said:

Are you a grapefruit, or a milkshake?

And we all thought he was a bit eccentric.

But the question was, are you a grapefruit, in that you segment your life so that Sunday you’re a Christian, Monday to Friday you work, Saturday you have a day off…everything is kept separate and segmented. Or are you a milkshake, blended, shaken and mixed together without any seams?

It’s easy to conform, to blend in with the crowd, have a quiet weekend, watch the same TV and have the same conversations as everybody else. And to be honest, life will probably be quite comfortable if you follow that path. But isn’t that what everybody else does? Do you want to be the same kind of different, or do you want to walk with your own stride, to your own beat? The choice is yours…

Finding Your Calling

I may (yet again) be showing my age, but unbelievably 2014 is the 20th anniversary of the first series of Friends. Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler and Joey and Phoebe first appeared on our screens the 22nd September, 1994, and stayed there for 10 years, 10 seasons and 236 episodes. And then stayed pretty much on rotation ever since. As Comedy Central are doing their countdown towards the “favourite Friends episodes ever“, I am finding my daughters are discovering this series (as it’s on every evening I get home…), and I am seeing episodes which I possibly missed (who knows?!) or am being reminded of 10 years after broadcast. This clip is from one of their Christmas episodes, where Phoebe has volunteered to collect donations outside Macy’s.

When I left school some 22 years ago, I didn’t really have a clue as to what I wanted to do. I knew what I enjoyed doing (music, concerts, movies, reading), but I had no idea as to how it would translate into a career. And then I went to University and did a degree in Music and Technology, so I learnt more about music, recording, live sound, playing in bands…all of which I really enjoyed. And while I was there I met the girl of my dreams…who is now my wife. But I still didn’t really know what I wanted to do. So I graduated, and got a job as I had a fiancé and plans and bills to pay and student loans to clear. And to be honest, my career path continued along this path for a good few years…I did jobs which paid the bills, kept me employed and which had some semblance of a career path…but really they were all a means to an end.

Finding Your Calling

Finding Your Calling, Discovering Your Gifts, Getting in Your Sweet Spot, Realising your Passion…there are so many phrases and descriptions which we use to describe how we find what we’re best at. And there are plenty of accompanying programmes and surveys, questionnaires and conferences which are devoted to just that goal. I’ve done some of them; when we first set up our leadership team to start our church plant, when we were going through Investors in People at a previous company, they even pop up from time to time on Facebook (although “Your Ideal Dog” and “Which Harry Potter Character Are You?” probably don’t count in quite the same way…)

And alongside my “Day Job” (for want of a better word), I have had my church career…starting playing drums for the worship team in Kingston, co leading a church plant in Bracknell, curating creative ideas for our Sunday services and graduating to band leading and worship leading for the whole church. I would comfortably say for the whole of my church career, I have been operating in my sweet spot, growing, learning and developing my skills to be at the stage I am at now…managing the band, putting together our Sunday services, writing new content and leading.

Jeremiah and the art of saying No

This Sunday at EBC we’re continuing our Story series, and looking at Jeremiah. God called on Jeremiah, but he made excuses and said he wasn’t ready, he wasn’t qualified. “I can’t speak for You, I’m too young!” he says. But God called him out, God equipped him, and with God’s help he was able to do his calling. This is a story that repeats through the bible, with Moses and Jonah and Mary…”surely you can’t mean me” or “I would never be good enough” are constant replies. But if you are genuinely called to something, you need to have the faith and courage to pursue it.

As I’ve said before, Steven Curtis Chapman is one of my all time favourite artists, and his songs just have an amazing ability to resonate and speak into so many areas of my life. One which I constantly come back to is I Am Found In You, which has the amazing line:

I may not see, in front of me

But I can see for miles when I look over my shoulder

And Lord it’s clear, You’ve brought me here

So faithful every step of the way

While my day job has been consistent and moderately successful, my church calling has always found me performing according to my gifting and abilities, and they’ve grown and strengthened the whole time. I genuinely do feel as though I’m operating in my sweet spot, and while it really doesn’t pay me a lot of money (and I am fortunate to be able to be paid just a day a week to do this), the challenge, sense of community and satisfaction are second to none.

Some of us may be called to collect coins outside of Macy’s, some have a desire to be CEO’s or tax collectors. Some will be millionaires, and some will just get by. Whatever your situation, find your calling and try to work in your sweet spot…and as you pursue it, no matter what, look over your shoulder occasionally to see where you’ve come from. You may just be surprised.

Find Your Voice

Now I came across this video this morning on my Facebook feed:

Isn’t it great! 29 perfect celebrity impressions, performed perfectly in Rob’s front room…and a great song too. I’m definitely going to check out the album.

We have a culture where celebrity acts and bands are regularly impersonated…I’ve seen The Bootleg Beatles, Bjorn Again (Abba), The Doors Alive, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Noasis, Blobbie Williams and Take Fat…and they’re all great. And even if a band isn’t trying to sell themselves as a tribute band, most of the pub gigs and duos, wedding bands, Christmas Party bands and so on consists of covers…musicians playing other people’s songs. I did it myself for a while, I played in The Bogus Blues Brothers, Steeling Dan (a Steely Dan tribute band) and The Wiltons, whose primary material was 60’s classics by The Beach Boys, The Stones, The Beatles… (I shall gloss over my misspent youth playing Bon Jovi and Motley Crue covers…)

Now all this is well and good, and for many musicians it’s where we first were inspired to play, the way and why we learnt to play, as we emulated our heros. For me it was Mark King from Level 42 who inspired me to pick up the bass, and by the age of 15 I could play pretty passable performances of most of their repertoire, thumbs a-flying as I had my headless bass high around my neck and in the crook of my arm (it’s how I still play the bass today, although it admittedly looked decidedly odd in a metal band….) And for some musicians that is all they’ll ever do, play other peoples songs as a hobby, or even as a full time career. Now many of these bands have broken up or passed on, the only way of seeing them live is to attend a tribute concert, and it’s big business. The bands themselves spend a huge amount of time and money looking and especially sounding like their heroes. And it makes a lot of money too…the Australian Pink Floyd show has sold in excess of three million tickets in the time they’ve been impersonating.

How does this apply to worship?

For me as a worship leader at EBC, we do essentially the same thing, we play cover versions of other people’s songs. Whether it’s Chris Tomlin or Matt Redman, Brenton Brown or Rend Collective, our repertoire is primarily influenced by what is popular in other churches, and what fits with our congregations. And there is nothing wrong with this, we have to stay familiar with the songs which we use otherwise we will alienate our congregations. But I believe there is a line to be drawn somewhere, and we have to be careful we don’t take it so far that we try to emulate other musicians, the arrangements of songs, even the style and content of other churches. Just because it works in church x, doesn’t mean it will translate to your church. Just because Chris Tomlin sings it in G#, doesn’t mean anybody in your team or congregation will be able to. Just because Hillsong play Gretsch/Duesenberg guitars, it doesn’t mean you have to. And even if Joel Houston has a big beard and wears deep cut V necks and scarves, I will not sound like him if I do the same.

I sincerely love all of these leaders, and we use a lot of their songs in our repertoire at EBC because they are good songs, they resonate with me, and I know they are a good fit for our congregation. But I don’t go as far as trying to copy them. We change keys (often down a lot!) to make them singable by our congregation. We alter arrangements to fit our services, and our band lineups…we do have a strong and large team of musicians, but generally our band lineup is 5 -6 people, so we don’t have the luxury of multiple guitars, complex harmonies and keyboard loops. We have a double bass player who is great, but double bass sounds significantly different to an electric bass. All of our musicians are of differing ability, they are all competent and I am delighted to have them in the band. But to accommodate them, we make changes so the music is accessible to all.

Find your own voice

And then we work together and we develop our own voice. I don’t sound or look like Joel Houston, and even if I had all of Nigel Hendroff’s Gear, I could never play guitar like him. Our drummer never plays like Travis Nunn. I don’t have any singers who harmonise like Christy Nockels or Kari Jobe. But I do have a passionate and dedicated team of musicians, who know their own voice, and use it to glorify God in our worship. And that is all I ask of them.

So be yourself, find your voice, practice, play, learn and enjoy.

And be your own, individual perfect, as only you can be. As perfect videos and songs often are nothing of the sort….

Just Dive In!

I was sent this video last week on my daily distraction of choice, Facebook:

Cute, isn’t it?! You know whats going to happen, you can see it coming, and yet somehow the penguin manages to drag it out…from ledge to diving board, diving board to ledge and back again. Teetering on the edge so many times, toes hanging over the side, and just when you think he’s going to jump…he waddles off of the board back to the ledge, then back to the board, then back to the ledge…

Will they, won’t they?

Isn’t this so like life for a lot of us? When it comes to a decision, no matter how big or small, we so often teeter on the edge, pondering whether to take the plunge or not. It could be a new job, a new romance, a step of faith, or something as mundane as buying a sandwich. As we weigh up all of the pros and cons in our head; what if it doesn’t work out and I’m jobless in three months; will she, won’t he; I don’t know if I believe all of it; do I want cheese and pickle or ham and mustard. Without the mustard. On wholegrain….  Just like the penguin going to the edge, balancing, and then pulling back, thinking about it, truing it from a different angle, juggling the “what if’s” in his head then going back for a third, fourth attempt.

A Crash of Rhinos

Granted there are some of us who hurtle in full steam ahead like a crash of rhinoceros’ (clearly the most aptly chosen name for a group of rhinos), with blatant disregard for those around them or subsequent consequences. And while I admire the bravado (and have been guilty of doing the same on more than one occasion), again, it’s not a position I would advocate.

I’d always wanted to start a blog and my own business of sorts. And I did have a few false starts many years ago, writing a couple of posts and then letting it drift. But this year, on the week of my 40th birthday, I made the step, bought the domain and started writing, creating and sharing. Little steps at first. I put the design of the site together, and started collating some of the material I had been writing over the years. Then I started posting. And I tweaked and tinkered, worked out how things worked, learnt about SEO and Ranking and other technicalities I was aware of but had never paid much attention to. And I started to build up a body of work, and set myself the goal of posting 2 – 3 times a week. And I did, and I kept it up, and my blog started to grow.

But, I hadn’t told anyone about it. So I said “I’ll launch it when….”. When I have a lot of posts. When I’ve built the shop. When I’m happy with the look. When I’ve worked out this SEO/Coding/Ranking thing. And so on. I could just have easily said “When we have 10 consecutive days of sunshine” or “When I get my 5th celebrity endorsement” or “When someone asks me”. So my when would slowly become whenever…

Ship It, Launch It, Hustle, Permissions!

Seth Godin talks about Shipping It, Jeff Walker just released a great book called Launch, Jon Acuff is just finishing up the 30 days of Hustle: Summer School! And Michael Hyatt put up a great post about permission on Friday. All of which essentially say the same thing: What’s the good of creating something, having the idea for something, setting your sights on a goal if ultimately you do nothing about it. You get 70, 80, 90 percent of the way there and then never finish because you’re eternally tweaking, forever changing, just waiting for the next best thing. Just Do It! It may not be perfect. You possibly won’t ever be 100% happy with it. It will most probably never be finished. It will be messy, just as ultimately the penguin’s “dive” into the water was. But unless you actually make the decision to jump in, dive, head first, it will remain that way: a promising, not-quite-realised, potential which needs to be released.

So have dreams, ideas and visions. Of course, be thoughtful, measured and informed before you make decisions. But don’t wait too long. Don’t stand on the edge looking over and start to get cold feet. Read up, think about it, pray about it…and then just Dive Right In!

What’s holding you back now from realising your dreams, goals or aspirations? What will make you take the final step off the edge of the board?

Legacy part 2

Friday has come around again, and I look back on another nice summer holiday week which has included (between work) a trip to the Tower of London with the family, food with friends and time out watching Castle with my beloved once the kids have gone to bed. All things which I will look back on with fond memories. Earlier this week I shared the great song Something Worth Leaving Behind by Lee Ann Womack, and looked at the legacies which we all leave. I thought as rather wonderful way to wrap up Legacy Week, I’d share this clip, Yes to Love:

You may recognise the couple: Isaac and Amy shared the most amazing Lip Sync Proposal on YouTube back in 2012, something we at EBC used as part of a marriage series we were doing. This video is a follow up to their proposal which they put together, and it shows the whole family and legacy that they and their parents and their siblings are leaving behind them.

The relatively simple act of Saying Yes to Love has led to 14 children and 40 grandchildren…and 35 great-grand children!

Purpose

Now I don’t think you need to purposely set out to create a legacy, I am sure most of us don’t wake up in the morning and think “I’m going to be known for…” and then set along a path to do it. But I do think we need to be aware of our legacy, and acknowledge the decisions we make will affect where we’re going, and also the trail which we leave behind. Everything we do and say has consequences, positive and negative, especially when it is dealing with other people.

Foot in Mouth Syndrome

I used to be a fan of Changing Rooms back when it was on (showing my age again…), and one of the useful pieces of advice was “Measure twice, cut once” when it came to Handy Andy and his DIY. I believe we should apply the same ethos to our words, thoughts and decisions….”think twice, speak/do once”. I have been on the end of plenty of conversations where things are said and thought about afterwards, and I am as guilty as anyone for “foot in mouth” syndrome. But simple adjustments to the way we say and do things can make significant changes.

Leaving a legacy does’t have to involve lots of money, charitable foundations, art installations or best selling albums. Legacies don’t even have to include large families and multiple descendants. But leaving a legacy must involve love at its core, and saying Yes to Love may be the first step towards leaving your legacy.

What is your legacy today, if you look back? Where do you want it to be in 10 years time?

Dreams Part 3

I thought I’d finish off the “Week of Dreams” as it’s turned out with this short:

Ormie the pig becomes focused on getting the cookie jar from the to of the fridge. Now clearly this isn’t a healthy obsession, either in terms of consuming a whole jar of cookies, or the measures he has to take to reach the jar. But it is funny.

Everyone’s dreams are different, we all have varied goals and desires which we’d like to pursue and achieve. For some they will always be pipe dreams, for others they may become obsessions. But, as I’ve referred to in previous posts, dreams won’t become reality unless you’re prepared to stick at them and work hard at achieving them. And working hard and putting the time in, while a good thing, needs to be balanced with normal life, family and friendships. When dreams border on obsession, there is a shift whereby your focus on the end goal becomes blurred, and all else around you pales into insignificance. Objectivity goes out of the window, life takes a back seat, and before you know it everything around you has fallen apart while you obsess on the solitary goal.

Journey

The journey is as much a part of realising your dreams, in fact I’ve read many times the journey is often more important than the destination. And the thought of reaching your end goal and then turning around to see the carnage you’ve left on the way is not a pretty one. Kind of like when my kids decide to do some baking…great cakes, disaster in the kitchen.

Work Hard, Play Hard is a commonly known phrase which is often used…I’d maybe like to rebalance it as Work Hard, Play Nice, or Work Hard in Moderation, Play Gently…I know they don’t have the same ring, but make more sense to me…

So work hard on your dreams, but make sure that when you do realise them, there is someone left to share them with at the end.

Until next week…

Dreams part 2

Just last week I put up a post on dreams, centered on the Disney/Pixar movie Up and the main character, Carl, fulfilling the life long dream he’d had with his late wife. Yesterday I saw this advert for Under Armour, which has quickly gone viral internationally.

Misty Copeland is an American ballerina and a soloist for the American Ballet Theatre, one of the three leading classical ballet companies in the US. She is also the first African American soloist at the company. Her whole story is quite incredible, with custody battles, eating disorders and adversity because of her ethnicity. And Misty didn’t actually start ballet dancing until she was 13, when most beginners commence their training aged 5. Despite this she kept going, kept training, and eventually joined ABT in 2000, working her way up to soloist in 2007.

The advert has the narration of her rejection letters playing in the background…

Dear Candidate. Thank you for your application to our ballet academy. Unfortunately you have not been accepted.

‘You lack the right feet, Achilles tendons, turnout, torso length, and bust. You have the wrong body for ballet and, at 13, you are too old to be considered.’

According to the ballet academies she had applied to, just about everything about her was wrong to them…her body, her feet, her bust, her age….and so on. Some would have given up. Many wouldn’t even have attempted to apply. With all that was going on in the rest of her life, it would have been easy to understand why she would settle for an easier life, a straightforward career.

Misty had a dream, a passion she wanted to fulfill. And she worked and worked and worked at it, she focused, she didn’t give up on her dreams.

No matter what life threw at her, Misty knew what she wanted to do, and she worked at it relentlessly with a passion. The ad campaign is titled I Will What I Want. I’m inspired.

How hard are you willing to work at achieving your dreams?

Dreams

We use a lot of media clips in our Sunday services, as they are great for opening a service, introducing a subject and focusing on a specific topic. But probably most importantly, the right clip will appeal to all and draw people in; young or old, men and women, wherever you are on your walk…a well chosen and appropriate media will bring everyone together in a shared experience and common starting place. This is probably why we use animations so often…although it could just as much be to do with the fact I have three children, so Disney/Pixar has been our friend for many years now. 

Now our senior minister has for some reason always had an aversion to animations. I don’t know if this was caused by a particularly hard episode of Tom and Jerry, or whether he never quite got over Bambi. But in the past whenever I’d suggested a clip which didn’t have real live people in it, he tried to deflect…and it was pretty much guaranteed he’d never seen it. That said, his anti-animation stance did mean he hadn’t had to endure several Barbie movies as I have (fortunately my girls have grown out of them now, although my wife did have to sit through a particularly torturous 80+ minutes of The Moshi Monster Movie recently, something she still hasn’t quite recovered from).

Up

These days it is acknowledged Disney/Pixar can almost do no wrong in our church, their movies hitting the perfect balance which delights and entertains both children and adults, something the Muppets used to do perfectly. Today’s clip is taken from the film “Up“, a quite wonderful movie about Carl, an elderly widower travelling to South America with a stowaway called Russell who is a Wilderness Explorer trying to earn his badges. Carl was a balloon salesmen, and so when his house is threatened with demolition he does the only reasonable and sensible thing…he attaches thousands of balloons to his house and simply floats away.

The movie is a thing of beauty, full of humour and warmth, it won two well deserved Oscars. The clip here which we used for our service focuses on the opening scene, a mini movie in it’s own right. It tells the story of Carl and Ellie; from when they first met, through their highs and lows, right through to Carl being widowed, which is where Up properly starts. As you’ll see in the clip, Carl and Ellie had a dream to visit Paradise Falls in South America, and they were constantly saving for their trip. But, as inevitably happens in life, other things get in the way, whether a punctured tire, house maintenance…something always depletes their dream jar. And just when they have enough to book the tickets and realise their goal….Ellie becomes unwell.

It is an emotional roller-coaster of a story, condensed into 5 minutes, which sets the scene for the movie to perfection. But it also reflects real life; so many of us had hopes and dreams, especially when we were younger. But as life goes by and the reality of the world takes over, too often our hopes and dreams are put aside, parked, or just plain forgotten about. I remember back when I was a kid, I was full of dreams, goals and ambitions…and then further down the line when the reality of mortgages, work and having a family took over, some of those dreams were parked, some drifted away, and many were forgotten about. But I still haven’t stopped dreaming, and my goals and ambitions are different. Our goals and ambitions are different. But we still have them, and are still creating them and realising them from day to day.

Dreams

At the end of the clip, Carl is going through their photo album and on the last page there is the inscription from Ellie…“Thanks for the adventure…now go and have a new one! Ellie x”. So while I’m not suggesting that you tie thousands of balloons to your house, I do encourage you to write down your dreams, share your ambitions and go and have some adventures, no matter where you are on your walk.

What dreams have you let go of? What ambitions and goals do you have now?

Judgement Day – Hey Ref!

Have you ever felt unfairly judged, or that someone has made the wrong assumption about you? Maybe you’ve been quick to jump to conclusions about someone else, or in the heat of the moment you’ve said something you shouldn’t have, and now you’re not quite sure how to undo it. I know that I’ve done it, and I continue to do it…and the majority of TV soap operas and cop shows base their story lines on the premise.

This clip from Outnumbered shows Karen, their youngest daughter, taking it upon herself to referee a “friendly” tennis match with her dad and his friends. Karen judges according to her own understanding of tennis games (probably on a par with my football knowledge) while one of the tennis players takes it all a bit too seriously. The outcome, predictably, is hilarious.

Referee’s decision?

As we’re moving towards the end of another football world cup, there have been many refereeing decisions made about possible goals, the conduct of players and of course the infamous offside rule. To be honest, I have never been much of a football fan, so haven’t really been paying much attention to any of the matches…so I catch the edited highlights on the news each day. So to be seasonal we’re using the World Cup as a loose theme for our current series, this week looking at judgement.

God is the ultimate judge, and is often portrayed as such…smiting the heathens, frowning on our mistakes and ultimately testing us against his book when we’re before him on judgement day…do we go up or down? But our God is not a vengeful God…he doesn’t run around us, waving a red card and waiting for us to trip up. He judges with love and grace, and wants us to succeed.

Organised chaos

Without a referee, football would be anarchy (some may say it already is)! Without a moral referee, the world would be in chaos. Our moral compass is an argument for the existence of God.

God is perfect and holy, and therefore we will always fall short…but he made a way for us to be on the right side. Judgement is a good thing to help keep us on the right track, to help with our decisions, and to aid our direction. Through Jesus we will be judged righteously and ultimately be redeemed. No final warnings, no red cards, no dismissals. If God is on our side, who can be against us?

Is your view of God as a judgemental referee or as someone who is cheering you on?

Take the Bus…

Teamwork. We all know there’s no “I” in team, all there is a “me” if you look hard enough….go on, you just checked, didn’t you?

We looked at Badminton for One a few weeks back, where we were established community doesn’t work so well if you do it on your own. We can achieve so much more when we work together…and if we share our time and resources with those who have a common interest and are “on the ground” as such, our resources will go so much further and achieve much more.

Now this ad is admittedly for a Belgian bus company, and the message is to get more people to take the bus than drive…which of course is a very valid and worthy message, even if you don’t live in Belgium. But aside from the great message, and very funny animation, it does highlight the benefits from working as a team, partnering, and strategically focusing on goals together.

Tearfund

This coming Sunday our service is focusing on Tearfund, one of our world mission partner organisations. We have partnered with Tearfund for many years, although recently we have become even more specific with our links and are now supporting a church in Nambeo, Uganda. You can read a post about it here, as well as view some pictures. It is a great relationship, as we are much more focused on what we are doing and where rather than just giving money to a general cause. One of our congregation went to Uganda in 2013 with an aid organisation, and we hope to send a team out there some time in the future.

Dorothy Springer Trust

At the same time we have been doing amazing things in Sierra Leone with a member of our congregation who moved back there and his church in Sierra Leone, Regent Road Baptist Church. Again, there is a real focus as we have strong links and productive partnerships with all involved, and can see day to day the difference which is being made, both with the charity and also with the church and the work they do around Sierra Leone. I encourage you to read up on Abs story and the Dorothy Springer Trust  he is running in Freetown. I was there in February, and I can’t wait to be back again.

Working in community, working as a team, working in partnership. We are so much stronger and achieve so much more when we work together. So why don’t you try applying a “We” mentality rather than a “Me” mentality this coming week?

Are there areas in your life that you could make a difference with if you shared the load?