Dear friends at Christchurch,

Warm and sincere greetings in the name of our Saviour Jesus.

Christchurch has now begun LYCIG (Leading Your Church Into Growth).Our first key meeting to discuss future vision for growth was both inspiring and stimulating. Those present on the morning of the 9th October shared their reasons for choosing to come and take part. Most spoke about their genuine desire to see Christchurch prosper and grow, and of how they wanted to be apart of an exciting new era in Christchurch’s history and mission. I was pleased and excited to hear several people speak about Christchurch being on “the cusp”of something special and new, and how they wanted to personally support whatever God has in store for us. That’s the kind of thinking and approach we need everyone to adopt and embrace.

We considered 3 kinds of growth together and how they interlink and feed off and into each other. These 3 areas of growth are:

  • Spiritual growth
  • Numerical growth
  • Missional outreach growth

It was felt that Christchurch needed to embrace a vision that would encourage growth in all three areas. We also considered where we thought Christchurch could be in terms of attendance at our main Sunday morning service 3 years from now in 2024. Could we aim for 10-20% growth in numbers, bearing in mind our current age profile?

However, the main thing we discussed, which is what I then highlighted at our Church meeting on the 20th October, was the great need to ensure thatChristchurch was primarily mission focused and not merely maintenance focused.Our major focus needs to be on promoting mission and evangelism, and this will impact on the way Christchurch is led by Church Council, and how we all develop a passion and a vision for growth. Together, we are the body of Christ, and each one of us has a part to play.

The next two vision meetings for LYCIG are on Saturday October 30th(10-12) and Saturday November 13th(10-12). It is not too late to sign up for these meetings! A few more people joining us would be really helpful and encouraging. The themes for these two meetings will be:

  • Our Plan – Developing a strategy for growth
  • Our Culture – Developing a community of invitation, welcome and hospitality

Please support these meetings with your prayers. Our first ever START course has got off to an extremely positive start and all 6 participants are very enthusiastic. So far, we have engaged in discussions around two subjects:

  • Our life’s journey – what is important to us and where are we going?
  • God – His existence and His character

I have high hopes for this course and I am sure it will bring great blessing to those who come and honestly engage with all the thought-provoking material. Please pray for growth and commitment, and consider others who you might invite to be on the next START course in 2022. We need to be thinking about running at least 2 of these 6 week courses every year.

Christchurch enjoyed an excellent Harvest celebration this year and Dereck and I delivered 16 large shopping bags of food to the Gloucester Foodbank. Our gifts were gratefully received. It’s good to have such a positive relationship with the Foodbank. Thank you for your generosity, but let’s keep up the good work so that we continue to deliver food on a regular basis. The need is ongoing. Our bible focus for Harvest was the parable of the growing seed(Mark4: 26-29)which stresses that God is the author of all growth. Nevertheless, when it comes to spiritual growth and leading others to Christ and his love, we have a vital part to play. We are to plant and water seeds – and the seed is the word of God.(1 Corinthians 3:6) We must not neglect what is our responsibility before God in the work of mission and evangelism. There is a harvest to be reaped. Incidentally, our Gift Day raised about £4000, and we are encouraged by the magnificent response to this giving initiative.

Midweek communions continue to be a feature of the worship of our Church. After consultation and prayerful consideration, we have decided that from the beginning of November we will revert back to holding Wednesday communion services every Wednesday at 6pm. In addition, to meet a new need, there will also be a communion service held on the first Wednesday of each month at 3pm. This service has emerged from our recent experiments with different service times. I believe, that given time, this 3pm service on the first Wednesday of each month could prove to be very popular. Prayer will be central to this worship time. The dates/times of Wednesdays Communion services forNovember are as follows:

  • Wed 3rd November 3pm and 6pm
  • Wed 10th 6pm
  • Wed 17th 6pm
  • Wed 24th 6pm

I will be making a special effort to vary the liturgies used at these communion services, tapping into the rich resources of our 4 supporting denominations – Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and URC. Prayer for healing will be offered on a regular basis. Our “retired” Ministers will be helping to lead the seservices. We appreciate their leadership, input and willingness to serve us int his way.

Please also note, and this is very important, that from Sunday November 7th our main morning service will start at 10.00am. Church Meeting took the decision to revert back to a 10.00am start time partly because of the need to restart coffee/tea fellowship after services as soon as possible. The fellowship part of our time together is crucial, particularly as we seek to welcome and integrate new people into our Church family. For members who may struggle to get ready in time for 10.00am, there is now the new 3pm mid-week communion service once per month, but no-one should ever worry about arriving after 10.00am on a Sunday morning. Better late than never! We want you to be part of the fellowship and friendship building process. Arriving a little bit late is not a problem. No one needs to be embarrassed.

With regards to refreshments after worship, we urgently need volunteers to help with this important aspect of our welcome and fellowship.Please volunteer if you can. Two people are needed each Sunday to manage this ministry of service and hospitality. David Barber will be looking to develop a new rota. All enthusiastic volunteers should contact him or a member of Church Council. Let’s get moving and serving!

May God bless us all as we move forward with fresh hope and faith.Make every effort to welcome and get to know new people. Stay for tea and coffee when there is opportunity. Support mid-week communion services if you can. Invite others to those services who may have drifted away from theChurch in recent times. Offer lifts to older members who need them. And if you require a lift – let us know about your need. We want to help and bless all our members and friends. No one should feel cut off from the life and worship of our Church.

Let Paul’s word of encouragement to the Corinthians be a word of challenge to us:

“Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you!Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.”

1 Corinthians 15:58 (with my emphasis)

God bless you all.

Love in Christ,

Peter