In Praise Of Slow

I saw this story and thought it was a wonderful illustration: Brian Cox, from New Zealand, spent four years growing a church from trees! Our current building project may take this long…but I don’t think it will look quite as pretty. Although we do have many, many trees in Bracknell…

tree-church-nature-installation-barry-cox-new-zealand-12

Man spends 4 years growing church from trees

In our always on, ever connected, 24 hour cycle we are encouraged, pushed and cajoled into getting everything done yesterday. Microwave meals, digital photos, Skype, touch payments…so much around us is designed for speed and practicality, to fit in with our evermore busy lives. Why queue at the shops when you can get it delivered, or if you do venture into a store, don’t waste time counting cash, signing the receipt or even punching in your pin code when all you have to do is touch your card on the machine! There used to be a day (which I sorely miss) when you would spend a Saturday afternoon browsing a record store or an evening deciding what video to rent in Blockbuster….now I can browse, download and stream what I want when I want through Netflix and Apple Music.

We can be like this in church, with our strategies designed to speed up growth, programmes to move our attenders and congregants from A to B in the quickest and easiest time possible…often so we don’t overburden people with more things in their already busy schedule. Rehearsals are rushed in order to get through the set, planning is curtailed, and we can fall into the trap of examining our performance at regular intervals: have we grown the team, have we achieved our objectives, will it be complete before the year/month/week is out? Not to say strategy, objectives and growth is a bad thing of course. But the path along the way, and the time spent doing it can make a huge difference.

Slow Growth = Strength

I read a story about Alfred Russell Wallace this week, a naturalist who was around at the same time as Charles Darwin. He was observing some moths emerging from their cocoons, and thought he would help one creature who seemed to be particularly struggling to hatch. So he made a small incision in the cocoon to enable the moth to stretch it’s wings and emerge more quickly. He soon realised this was a mistake…sure enough, the moth did hatch quicker, but because of Alfred’s help, its wings hadn’t developed or gained their full strength by the normal process of straining and stretching. So the moth was fully emerged, but it had less colour, strength or vitality compared to the other moths. Over the course of its brief life it flew poorly, fed inefficiently and ultimately died long before it should have.

Moses

Moses was a pivotal character in the bible, but by the time God called Moses to lead the Hebrews out of Egypt he was already an old man. He had been a fugitive guilty of murder, a refugee without a land or a people to call his own and a shepherd in one of the most desolate places on earth. He was not a young leader, he was not working out shortcuts and ways of achieving actions via the quickest possible route. He had lived, learnt, experienced and submitted, ultimately ready to lead God’s people after a long period of developing for this moment.

I’ve written before about the song I am Found In You by Steven Curtis Chapman…which has one of my favourite lines:

I may not see, in front of me

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

I’ve been at EBC for around 14 years now, and I’m always striving to make things better, grow the teams, increase the congregations, be more effective with our messages on a Sunday service and keep abreast of all which is new in culture…and do it all yesterday! But if I stop and look back to where we were a year ago….five years ago….ten years ago…it is incredible how far we’ve come. And of course, because we’ve spent the last 14 years doing this gradually, the foundations we’ve laid, the relationships we’ve built and the experiences we’ve shared have made us incredibly strong and together as a team, a church and a community. My closest relationships have been built over time, my marriage being a particularly strong example. I’ve started a new business this year, but it is based on almost 20 years of experience and relationships which I can now call upon as there is a strength there.

In Praise Of Slow

A moth which hatches too quickly will be weakened. A building with rushed foundations will have no strength. Battery farmed chickens and hydroponically grown tomatoes may be quicker and more efficient, but the speed will directly affect the flavour of slow growth. Relationships, no matter how friendly and approachable you are, can only be grown over time together…there are no shortcuts.

So next time you’re trying to do 15 things at once, your drummer’s dropped out of Sunday and dinner is boiling over….try to take a step back, take stock, look at where you’ve come from and be in praise of slow. Easier said than done, but still possible…

And thanks to Skye Jethani and Simon Guillebaud for the daily inspirations which contributed to today’s blog…I read Choose Life daily and also get Skye’s Daily Devotional to my inbox every day. Both hugely recommended.

How We See

Inside Out is currently doing fantastic business in America, released to overwhelming critical acclaim, everyone is flocking to the cinema. I know we can’t wait to see it as a family (unfortunately it’s not out until the end of July in the UK….just in time for the school summer holidays…)

Inside Out is set inside the mind of Riley, where her five emotions: Joy, Anger, Disgust, Fear and Sadness, try to lead her through life as she moves with her family to a new city. Pete Docter, the director, first began developing Inside Out in 2009 after noticing changes in his daughter’s personality as she grew older. The film’s producers consulted many psychologists and researched the mind in preparation for building its story. Initial drafts were unsatisfactory, and the production was revised significantly with the realization that interpersonal relationships guide human emotions.

Winning With People

We are just about to start a new series at EBC called Winning With People, based on the book by John Maxwell, and the first part is titled How We See. And if its not obvious by now…this Inside Out clip is going to be used to open the service. The story we’re using is from Luke 7: 36-50, where Jesus is anointed by a sinful woman while at Simon’s house. Simon is self righteous and believes he is better than everybody else…and so does not see Jesus for who he is, nor the woman for who she is. Whereas the woman knows herself, and so sees Jesus for who he really is.

Who we are affects how we see other people. Who we are affects our relationships with other people. Just as illustrated in the Inside Out clip, our emotions and the thoughts in our head can often dictate how we relate to one another. It can be as simple as if we’re angry or happy, tearful or sensitive, we can either rub others up the wrong way or misinterpret how others are acting towards us. I know I’ve been guilty of that (although not very often as I’m usually so perfect and fun)….

But at a deeper level we can all have ingrained opinions and almost subconscious reactions whether these are genetic, from our background, from other influences or experiences. It could be argued that certain press and media outlets thrive on these negative preconceptions…we seem to be in the thick of a raft of headlines about “benefits scroungers”, “work-shy”, “immigrants” and “celebs”…and we get hardened to the images and articles we read when often the real stories are somewhat different.

The Lens Principle

John Maxwell better defines this as The Lens Principle (again from his book Winning With People), which he defines as:

Who we are determines how we see others.

The big question is:
What is my perception of others?

This means:

  1. Who you are determines what you see.
  2. Who you are determines how you see others.
  3. Who you are determines how you view life.
  4. Who you are determines what you do.

At its simplest we could define this as stereotyping: all artists are flighty, all singers are divas, drummers hang around with musicians, all programmers are dorks etc… But how we’ve been brought up, who our friends were (or still are), parent’s opinions, the press we read and much much more will have an affect on how we view the world, and how we see people.

W.W.J.S.

163-1468Now I don’t think it’s my place to say what you should or should not be reading or listening to; my point of view, my background, my family situation, the newspapers I read and the TV I watch is possibly the same or maybe completely different to yours. But I’ll leave you with this:

There was a craze in the late 90’s for wearing WWJD bracelets, which, if you were around in the 90’s you’ll know stood for What Would Jesus Do? So maybe a subtle change to this, as we think about How We See people would be to have a bracelet with WWJS on it: What Would Jesus See?

Here to Serve!

I don’t think I have any guilty pleasures…as I don’t feel guilty about them! And while many of them may be distinctly “uncool”…I am now of an age where I don’t feel too bothered about them. So…confessions: I still love Level 42 from my 80’s teenage years, I have penchant for rom coms (as I have confessed to before), and these past few Wednesdays two of my favourite US TV shows have started their new seasons in the UK, Castle and the country juggernaut which is Nashville.

Great songs, pretty actors, lots of fabulous guitars and outstanding music week after week. Admittedly some of the storylines are a bit “soap”, but captivating and light at the same time. I also love the fact all of the actors can sing and play…when the audition process took place it was a prerequisite….no dubbing or voice doubles…if you were going to act as a country star, you had to sing like one too!

OK, all well and good you may say. Nice music. But how does it link to the blog? Glad you asked…

Well, 3 seasons in we’ve seen the ups and downs of most of the character’s love lives, big concerts, intimate gigs, ruthless record execs and even murderous fathers. And there are at least three songs in each episode…often at The Bluebird Cafe (I wish we had one locally!). And our “stars” are always there in one way or another….at the front or behind the scenes.

This is where it gets complicated?

So Gunner and Scarlet (who sing in the clip above) met at the cafe while she was waitressing and he was working sound. And they’ve gone on to be signed, make a lot of money from publishing, done tours…but they still come back, and serve behind the bar, work the sound board. Avery Bartlett was a wannabe star who dropped his band so he could pursue a deal in LA…the deal went sour, he came back to Nashville with nothing then got hired to be guitar slinger for one of the biggest artists…major tour, living his dream. And he still comes back to the Bluebird to help behind the bar, work the sound desk, support the artists. Deacon Claybourne, the guitarists guitarist who has played with everybody and is renowned…still makes the time to help at the bottom. Zoey Dalton is realising her dream to be a singer…but she still serves at the Bluebird.

Any regular readers will know we did our church weekend a couple of weeks ago, and again, this servant behaviour was modelled by our band, by our leaders, by our congregation. So although the musicians were very visible at the front over the weekend, they were just as active behind the scenes in the setup and clear down, the loading of vans and lugging of boxes.

Happy to serve!

Our leaders may have led us over the weekend, but they were also there on the Thursday preparing the marquees, putting our chairs, refilling the urns for hot drinks and taking out the rubbish.

And this happens every weekend at EBC…those who are in an upfront role are also working tirelessly behind the scenes, serving refreshments, winding cables, hoovering and taking care of business! We’ve always said if you are serving up front, you need to serve up back too, and I’m pleased to say it’s something we don’t have to enforce, our teams just do it! And I hope it is the same in your church.

I used to listen to Kids Praise albums when I was a little kid….Psalty the singing songbook…was it just me? And the songs have stuck with me…straight out of the bible, easy to remember:

If you want to be great in God’s kingdom

Learn to be the servant of all.

Nashville doesn’t have room for divas, and neither does church. 

5 things learnt from our weekend

So we’re back from our church weekend away (long time back actually…just taken a while to recover…), and it was great…really great. The weather was incredibly kind, the infrastructure (marquees, generator, toilets and showers) worked really well, the shared aspect between the two churches was wonderful and we all had a great time together. This didn’t happen by accident, so I thought I’d post about some of what we learnt in the planning from our weekend away:Tents

  1. Prepare your music in advance: We were going to be in a field for four days, so unless we brought a photocopier, we would be stuck. And similarly, rather than bringing all of our music, I figured it would be easier to select a short list of songs and then prepare folders for the weekend. That way, if it got lost, it wouldn’t matter.
  2. Rota your band in advance: I already knew who was coming, and I knew how many sessions we needed to cover. What I didn’t know for sure was what songs and feel would be required and when…but I simply rota’d a general band lineup for each session based on who we had with us.
  3. Get all of your sound and light working in advance: The weekend officially started on the Friday evening with a celebration, but some of us were there from Thursday evening preparing the lights and sound. We brought our lighting system from EBC, FBC brought their PA, and between us we had a pretty good set up which worked well all weekend.
  4. Soundcheck: Now this was slightly different from a regular Sunday, as we were going to have several different bands for each session with no time between for soundcheck. What helped us was using the In Ear Monitoring system from FBC, so we were responsible for our own stage mix. Which meant the engineer was only responsible for the Front Of House sound. We did do a line check on the Friday afternoon to make sure all was working.
  5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate: None of this would have been any use if we didn’t have a band. So the planning extended back weeks, confirming who was going to be there, confirming the songs (with the band and the church office), confirming what we were going to bring, confirming everyone’s responsibility and when over the weekend.
  6. All of the above (and much much more) meant generally the weekend went really smoothly. So much so that we’re already talking about plans for our next joint weekend in 2017.

And out of these things, what can we apply to our Sunday mornings?

  1. Prepare your music in advance.
  2. Rota your band in advance.
  3. Get all of your sound and light working in advance.
  4. Soundcheck.
  5. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

Simple really…

Now apologies for being offline for a week, point 6. should be “allow for recovery”….normal business has resumed and I shall be posting on Thursday… Have also been busy putting this together, my other job:

Community wasn’t built in a day

There are countless books, videos, courses and step by step guides out there on community. It’s one of the things which most churches aspire to, and arguably one of the ingredients of a happy and rounded life.Tents

But it seems in our busy, 21st century culture, community is becoming more and more relegated to being online when we can fit it in and contain it. For instance, I have 422 friends on Facebook, of which probably 22 I see regularly. I am connected on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest (yes, I am a man with a Pinterest account). I probably still have a MySpace profile somewhere, I’ve dabbled in FourSquare and I set up a TuneTeams account recently. And that doesn’t include old school emails and texts. So I am incredibly overconnected in my digital realm.

But the reality is, most evenings (when I don’t have rehearsals, meetings or are carrying out “dad taxi” duties, I am at home…with my family, enjoying catching up on the events of the day and unwinding from a days work. Which is not a bad thing. But it’s not community.

Face Time?

I was in London today for a meeting about a couple of upcoming audits which I am doing. Now I could have emailed it in, we could have exchanged data, maybe even Skyped if it came to it. It would have saved me the commute, and the train fare. But putting in the “face time” as we call it develops my relationship further with the client, it shows I want to make the effort, and we talk far more about work and not about work than we would have done in a brief email or a focused phone conversation. It takes time and effort, but it builds community.

This coming weekend we are having our church weekend, something we try to do every year. This year we have taken the step to share it with another church in our area, FBC. We’re camping at Wellington Country Park, we’ve hired in huge marquees, generators, toilets and showers for the 200 or more who will be sharing the weekend. It’s almost a mini festival! We are running events on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we have a visiting speaker, children’s and youth work. There are leisure activities being planned, movies, a very silly quiz night and much much more (did I mention the buffet, hog roast and barbecue?). We’ve been planning it for probably the best part of a year, it’s taken a huge amount of planning and logistics, and I will be on site from Thursday to Monday, when the inevitable big clear up has to happen. And I don’t even want to thing about Tuesday evening yet (when I’m going to have to reinstall our sound and lights ready for next Sunday).

Is it worth the effort?

It’s taken a massive amount of effort to put on; time, money and heavy lifting! But we will have a whole weekend together without the distractions of work, TV, cooking and general day to day. We can do what we do on a Sunday without the need to rush onto the next service, or to get home to put on lunch. There is a program so there are things to occupy us through the days, but there will also be plenty of time to be together, to share, to chat, to eat, to just be. And although I know it’s going to be a great weekend with fantastic content, the opportunity to spend time with friends, make new ones, and just grow our community together is going to be the most important part of the whole weekend.

The only way to build community is to be one. The only way to cultivate relationships is to invest in them. Which takes time, lots of time, spent together. So instead of reading the books, working through the programs or “liking” your friend’s status, why don’t you spend some time, quality time with your community this weekend.

I’ll be posting about this next week, as I’m probably going to be off grid, in a field, with deer for the next 5 days!

So Help Me God

I’m just emerging from a particularly busy and difficult season in my life. Our senior minister has been pretty unwell since last summer, so I was doing a lot of extra work at EBC (which I really enjoyed doing) in addition to my usual responsibilities. But I only “work” at church 1.5 days a week, and the rest of my working week I work for my own company doing royalty accounting and specialist music business advice for musicians, bands and labels. And I am very happily married with three wonderful children…who are all at school, have homework, go to bed late and still get up early…(I thought it would all change once they were out of nappies?) And I do try (sometimes!) to have a social life and date my wife…who is also working full time! So with all of the above, and of course Christmas…I was (we were!) somewhat frazzled by the end of 2014

Now I’m pleased to say I’ve come out the other side, church have been particularly kind and given me a lot of recovery space in January (I felt semi-retired to be honest…but they assured me I am wanted back….) and now we’re at the end of February, I am right back into the thick of it. And we’re again ramping up…we did a great joint service at the beginning of the month with our friends at FBC, we’re planning a big church weekend in May, service prep is well under way. I’m in the middle of setting up a new limited company to take the music business forward, there is just as much homework to do, the house needs redecorating desperately (our middle daughter Naomi has been diagnosed with severe dust allergies, so we need to rip out the carpets and remove the soft furnishings a.s.a.p.) and we’re still attempting to squeeze in a social life and actually date.

When I were a lad…

I remember from when I was but a young boy (not that long ago…) we used to listen to the Kids Praise cassettes in the car, even today I can remember most of the songs which Psalty the Singing Songbook used to sing. Do My Best came from Kid’s Praise 5, Psalty’s Camping Adventure, and the opening line was

“I can do most anything, through Christ who strengthens me. Even climb a mountain when I’m four (even three!)”

I am sure that under many other circumstances we would have just crumbled, and there are still days when it’s the most we can do to crawl out of bed in the morning. But I know I’m not doing any of this alone. We work together as a couple. We do it together as a family. We share it all as a community at our church. And we do it all through God, who strengthens, guides, and carries us when it’s too much.

This is an oldie but goody from dc Talk…so the clothes may not have dated well, but the song and the sentiment are bang up to date:

You’re there when I call
And You’re there when I fall
Even though I don’t deserve it all
You, You light my way
Through the night and the day
And from You I will not stray

So help me God
To put my faith in You
So help me God
Before I come unglued
Call it my addiction
I can’t get enough of You
So help me God
To put my faith in You

I have days, and will continue to have days where I try to do everything under my own steam, and in my own strength. But more and more I’m learning that if I share the load, stop trying to do it on my own, and look to Him who is here for me…I can do a much better job of everything. So Help Me God. 

Expect the Expected

Henry Ford started manufacturing the Model T in 1908, and while it wasn’t the first mass produced car, Ford did implement manufacturing techniques and refined the assembly line process to make cars more accessible to the general public rather than the rich persons plaything. By 1918, half of all cars in America were Model T’s, and they were all black…as Henry Ford famously said,Any colour as long as it's black...

“Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black”

 

Do you ever find church can feel a bit like that? We follow the same tried and tested formula, perform the same rituals, sing the same songs (hymns) by the same people in the same order, week after week after week. Even forward thinking churches can fall into following a routine, as it’s “normal” for a Sunday. Like the Model T, Sundays can all come in the one colour…we expect the expected.

This past Sunday we held our regular All Age Sunday which always happens at the end of the month. This has meant in the past always having a kids song, breaking the talk up into smaller parts, maybe a children’s story or some sort of interaction…again, falling into a tried and tested routine.

But this Sunday we got our youth group to lead the whole service….from the welcome to the notices to the story to the prayers at the end. And Amy our wonderful youth worker did the talk, which was amazing. And it was all great. It was really good. And it was only 45 minutes long.

So we came away saying “wasn’t it great” and “didn’t they do well” and ” fantastic talk” and other backslapping, positive things. And then we said “it was a bit short” and “the talk could have been longer” and ” probably room for another song” and other similar observations.

Which got me thinking…well, why? Why does it have to be an hour long? Why do we start with three songs? Is the talk (or sermon) the most important part of the service? Why Sunday morning…and so on and so on…

Too long or too short?

I can think of many films which have perfect endings…and then carry on for another half an hour (I can think of many sermons which have done the same….) We in the UK are used to series of six episodes…so when Top Gear has a run which only lasts four episodes, I feel somewhat cheated…where are my missing two episodes?!

And albums used to be around 50 minutes long as that was as much time as you could fit on the two sides of a vinyl record…around 8 – 10 songs. So when all of these classic albums were re-released on CD, you again felt cheated as you knew there was an extra thirty minutes of space…no, wasted space on the CD. And then record companies started filling the space with bonus tracks, remixes…live versions…and so we bought them again, and again, and again.

Nothing wrong with order

Now I’m all for a template, we need to have service orders so everybody knows what is happening, and lets be honest, if your services are radically different from week to week, everybody (including you) is going to come away confused. But at the same time, be willing to change, try and think differently, do mix it up from time to time, and always always always make sure there is space for God to take control…

Having a slightly shorter service meant more people stayed afterwards…we shared coffee and cake (as we usually do) but giving an extra (and unexpected) 15 minutes from finishing early meant the congregation felt less pressured (or knew they had more time) so they hung around. And talked about how good the service was, how well everybody had done, how great to have some different faces leading. Which in my book is a good thing.

Ford Model T’s aren’t still all black…

Also available in green...

 

Do Something!

Do you ever get weary from all of those talking head programmes, those analysts on the news, the sports “experts” who pull apart the match/game/tournament and tell you exactly how it should have been done, if you’d have done it this way, why it was completely wrong to put “” in goal? Admittedly some of them may well be experts in their field, but they always always spend a lot of time talking about it, but never actually do anything about it!

Over the next couple of Sundays at EBC we are looking at our World Mission, Toy Box this week, and Sierra Leone next week. We have had long term projects with both of them, and ToyBox is probably a well known charity, so let’s look at our friends in Sierra Leone.

I’ve posted about my friend Abs before, as well as Regent Road Baptist Church, so do look back and read about them. We have partnered with RRBC to build a church and a school in Tombo, a fishing village some way out of Freetown in Sierra Leone. The church is completed, and despite the current Ebola crisis, construction on the new school continues and they hope to have it completed soon. Now we at EBC are in the middle of working through a building project, and it’s been slow going. Admittedly, there are many more planning regulations to adhere to and apply for, as well as a difference in the funding…building costs are very different here than they are in West Africa! Incredibly, now the Tombo project is nearing completion, RRBC are looking towards their next plant!

Before their current project is finished, they are already looking ahead to the next need, where to plant, where help is needed!

Step out of your comfort zone!

It can be relatively easy to maintain the status quo, keep things ticking over and do the 9 to 5. It is even easier (and I am just as guilty at this) to criticise and fix from a distance, just like the TV critics.

“Why did they do that song?!”

“I’d have never worn that shirt to deliver a sermon!”

“Who planned that service…I’d never have trusted “” to speak, I’d  have done it this way”

And so the question must be….why didn’t you then?

If you can deliver a really good talk…why don’t you? If you are gifted in worship music, why don’t you join the band? If the church is asking for money for it’s new project why don’t you give? If you have spare time to give, what are you doing with it?

The Matthew West video says it all really:

If not us, then who
If not me and you
Right now, it’s time for us to do something
If not now, then when
Will we see an end
To all this pain
It’s not enough to do nothing
It’s time for us to do something

This is also the week that Band Aid 30 have released a new version of Do They Know It’s Christmas, and along with the positive press and big sales which are contributing towards Africa, there has been the almost predictable cynicism. I watched an interview with Bob Geldof on Sky (it was doing the rounds on Facebook), and the thrust of the interview was “why should we pay money for this when you millionaire rockstars don’t pay your taxes…if you did, we wouldn’t need charity singles”. Now I don’t know how much Bob Geldof, or Bono donates every year to charity, or how they pay their taxes, but I’m sure they do. And I know this single will raise significant money for Africa which will help fight the Ebola crisis. And Sir Bob and the rest of Band Aid 30 (and 25, and 20, and the original) are using their gifts, time, and very public presence to actually do something.

Let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

What can you do today? Do something!

 

Melt

I am of an age where The Spice Girls were my generation, I own some of their albums and the limited edition tin box with the movie, and I can honestly and categorically to this day still say Sporty Spice was my favourite. Not because I have a thing for shell suits and leisure sportswear, I don’t have any tattoos, and general fitness (let alone high kicking in tracksuit bottoms) is not something that you’ll find me doing anytime soon. Actually a friend of mine was an engineer at one of the studios when they were recording their first album…and he came home that day to say “there’s this bunch of girls recording this week…they’re called the Spice Girls…and they’re rubbish! Never going to go anywhere!” Some 80 million sales later, I think it’s safe to say he won’t ever work in A&R…

Farewell, Sporty

Anyhow, once the Spice Girls went their separate ways, they inevitably released their own solo albums, with varying degrees of success. But now some 20 years down the line, Mel C is the only one that continues to carve a musical career…something she’s done pretty successfully as well. Several album releases, her own label, regular touring, and even a critically acclaimed stint as Mary Magdalene in the updated Jesus Christ Superstar…in my humble opinion she was Most Talented Spice.

I also own all of her solo albums, because they are actually all rather good. And as she’s developed her own sound, set up her own label and taken control of her career; her sound and songwriting (and she does do her own writing) have settled into a distinct and personal rhythm which I personally really rather like. This track is taken from her sophomore album, Reason, and it’s another fantastic track called Melt.

Give a little bit of love for your people
But save a little bit of love for yourself
Have a little bit of trust in the way you feel
And see your heart melt

Send a little bit of hope down the airwaves
Find a little bit of gold, it might help
You’ve got to have a little bit of faith in everything you know
Then let your heart melt

Everyone needs compassion

This past Sunday we had Jamie Fyleman from Tearfund talk to us about their work overseas, and specifically a project that we have partnered with them on in Uganda. It is amazing the difference a small amount of money, a bit of time, and knowledgeable direction can make. Tearfund aren’t about spending lots of money to support people, they are about getting people to understand how they can make their own situations better for a sustainable future. Knowledge is power. Tearfund, like so many organisations are making a difference, and they know how and where to focus their efforts. The problem of course is money, and in our current climate it is more difficult than ever. And I think that we can suffer from charity fatigue; as we have a 24 hour news cycle broadcasting all that is wrong in the world, it is all too easy to zone out, to focus inwards, and to take care of our own needs. But if we can share just some of what we have, be it time, money, or even volunteering, we can make a real difference…we just need to let our hearts melt.

What one thing can you do to make a difference, today?

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?