Dear friends,

Warm and sincere greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I do hope and pray that you have personally got off to a good and positive start in 2024. As a Church we aim to begin 2024 brightly, stepping forward with faith, hope, vision, and enthusiasm. As I write this letter, I am beginning to think about our next Church Meeting on the evening of Wednesday 24th January, and my prayer is that we may all receive a great deal of encouragement as we reflect on the blessings and achievements of 2023 and the challenges and opportunities of 2024. May God surround with His favour as with a shield. (Psalm 5:11-12) May the favour of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us – yes, establish the work of our hands. (Psalm 90:17)

I would like to take this opportunity to encourage you all to pursue growth in your faith in Jesus. As Christians, we are never called to stand still, but to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. (2 Peter 3:18). There are different ways you can personally take up and press on with that challenge to grow, but it is important to realise that you are responsible for your own growth in Christian faith, maturity, and service.

I would encourage every Christian to read their bible regularly with the help of good bible reading notes. This is the first place to think about and nurture growth. Sam Simms can help you to acquire notes if you need them. There is also the Church library which has many good Christian books and bible study aids that will provide stimulation for growth. Regularly attending Sunday worship spearheads growth (through Zoom if necessary), and discussion groups within Café Church and Know and Grow are all put in place with the specific aim of encouraging participation and spiritual growth.

We have three excellent fellowship/bible study groups which aim to provide a space for fellowship, prayer, sharing around the bible and warm pastoral support. There are also now about 85 of my sermons on the Church website which have been placed there for your benefit and blessing, and for the blessing of the wider world. These are written with a view to stimulate deeper personal bible study and understanding, and are filled with extra biblical references which enable and encourage deeper and wider study. I go to these lengths because I believe that the growth of Christians is vital in every day and age. This body of work takes much time and great effort, but it is a central part of my calling to serve the Church. Take advantage of what is available, while it is available in the Church.  (click on to “sermons”)

People may also want to search the internet for videos that provide good teaching, Christian discussion and debate, and Christian testimony and good news stories. My personal aim this year is to understand much more about what the bible teaches about “wisdom” – godly and Spirit-filled wisdom, and how that is to be practically worked out in my life and ministry. Godly wisdom is not concerned with being wise in my own eyes, but being wise through submission to God and His Word, and embracing what the bible describes as a healthy “fear of the Lord.” (Proverbs 1:7, 9:10, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Do not approach your personal spiritual growth casually, but approach it seriously and sincerely. Casual Christianity sounds the death knell within careless Christians and Churches.

May the Lord fill each of us with spiritual fervour and fire. May each of us fan into flame the gift of God within us. May we all grow in faith, hope and love.

Yours in the love and care of Christ,