Exciting news from Jubilee Church!

One of the many areas we talked about during our Family meeting on Wednesday was the exciting news that from 1st September 2015 we are delighted to welcome a new member of staff onto the team – John Batten!img-team-john-julie

For a while now, we have felt as Elders that we needed to strengthen our staff team, with the ideal being able to employ another Elder. When Jeremy Simpkins was with us as Elders in January, we were talking to him about this and he agreed that this would be an important strategic next step for us. We have got a huge vision as a church and in order to see progress in this and for further Kingdom impact both in Derby and further afield, we need to add to our staff team.

Un-expectantly, John Batten recently found out that in the latest round of restructuring at work, he could apply for voluntary redundancy, and so he and Julie and us as Elders, began to pray about their future. Could it be for John to join our staff team?

John & Julie have been part of Jubilee Church since our very early days, when they moved up to Derby with their family from East Grinstead to be part of our church planting team. As many of you will know, John has worked as a Senior Management Trainer for a large UK supermarket chain for a number of years alongside being an Elder in the church since we first appointed Elders.

At a similar time as I was talking with John about this, we had had our Encounter Weekend with a team from Kings Church Horsham. One of the many prophetic words I received was about the current structure in Jubilee not being strong enough for the future and the need to re-look at the way we do things. The word spoke of enlargement and expansion, but also of re-ordering and change.

We have been praying into all of this as Elders, as a leadership team and Trustees for the past few weeks. On Sunday evening we had an Elders & Trustees meeting, where we unanimously agreed that bringing John onto our staff team in a part-time capacity was the right move for us and for him.

John is also a very natural addition to our staff team, having worked alongside me for many years both as part of our Eldership Team and as Chair of Trustees. John and Julie are known and loved by the church and I am sure you will be as thrilled as I am to have them around more.

This is a major step of faith both for John and Julie and for us a church. We don’t have the capacity in our current budget to employ John, but we do feel that this is a God given opportunity which we don’t want to miss. Therefore, we are holding a special offering on Sunday 28th June and Sunday 5th July where I would ask you to pray about giving generously into a fund to enable this to take place. I am praying for £20,000 to enable us to cover John’s salary (and pension, employers National Insurance, expenses etc!) for a year or so. As is our custom, we are committed to tithing this offering, and so we will be giving 10% of it into the Devoted offering in the summer. Please could you partner with us in this exciting and strategic step for us as a church?

I am very much looking forward to having another Elder on staff and to the many opportunities that this brings us in so many different areas of church life. As you might expect, there will be an important period of transition as we seek to restructure different areas of our work as a staff team. We want to make sure that this additional capacity is really effective and allows us as a church to grow and move forward both locally and in the way we are serving other churches.

This is a faith adventure. Giving is a faith adventure! Please join us on the journey and pray for all of us as we begin to work towards this exciting new chapter in the life of Jubilee Church.

Here’s a short video we put together about this exciting news!

This is the new normal!

ad_encounterFor some time now, I have been trailing the weekend just gone as one which I felt would be significant in the life of Jubilee Church. We were really looking forward to the visit of a team from Kings Church Horsham and had a real sense that God wanted to do something quite seismic in the church. He did!

We were wonderfully served by Andy, Trevor, Janet, Jo, Juliet, Nicky, Jules and Jon from Kings. This gifted team gave themselves to us over the whole weekend. It was a packed programme and they served enthusiastically and with such graciousness over the entire time. They had prayed and prepared and came ready to give. We are so grateful to God for them and for their heart to be a blessing to us.

The sense of God’s presence over the weekend was tangible. The prophetic gift which was released was incredible. God has certainly been at work in Jubilee this weekend, and I feel that He has raised the bar as to what is to be called “normal” in church life. The challenge for us now is to not go back, not to settle for anything less. If we are not careful to push on, then this weekend could just become a “that was nice” weekend in our history. I don’t believe for one minute that is what God would want. This remarkable weekend should serve to encourage and motivate forward into all that God wants for us. Sarah and I are certainly up for that. Who else wants to come on the journey?

Visit to Cambodia – January 2015

I thought it might be helpful to write a blog post about my recent time in Cambodia. I am well aware that my last post was over a year ago, so I make no promises about the regularity of such posts!

I am writing this on the plane back from Cambodia. This has been my second visit, and once again, it has been a great trip.

The main reason for going was to be part of a team teaching at the Pastors & Wives leadership conference for Transform Asia in Cambodia. Transform Asia (TA) have somewhere around 35-40 churches working together alongside a variety of social action projects right across the county. This is all led by Setan and Randa Lee, together with a small team of staff and other leaders. Both ChristCentral Churches and Jubilee Church Derby are partnering with TA and seeking to serve them and be a blessing where we can.

On the way out there, I met up with Mike and Kay Sprenger in Amsterdam, and we travelled the rest of the way together .

Landing in Phnom Penh on Saturday 17th January, we were met by Setan and some of his staff, and then we headed to the South West of the county where we stayed overnight. Mike preached on Sunday morning in Chhouk Kampot and I preached in the afternoon in Phnom Vor, both TA churches.

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Phnom Vor is right in the centre of a jungle area, in the middle of nowhere. There was, however, great 3G mobile phone reception! We saw 4 first-time decisions to follow Christ alongside 4+ healings. It was wonderful to see God on the move, but intensely frustrating not being able to speak the language and converse easily.  IMG_0053

After another overnight stay, we arrived in Kep on the Monday morning. This was the location of the conference and would be home for the next few days. It was great to have hot water once again, but not so great to have a mixture of geckos, large spiders and cockroaches! However, the view from the guest house more than made up for this!

Mike, Kay and I, together with Scott Price who works with Setan in Cambodia, all spoke on the theme of, “Don’t lose your way.” We were encouraging the 80+ delegates to hold fast in their commitment to Christ, and not to fall at the many obstacles that life throws at us. We looked at the particular hurdles that leaders often face, namely money, sex and power.

The teaching was well received, as were we. On the Wednesday evening we had an evening meeting where I taught about the Holy Spirit and then we prayed for one another. God moved powerfully and it10904011_10152594364755796_7242436137108835516_o was evident that the Holy Spirit was at work refreshing, encouraging and empowering people.

Serving this group of leaders was great fun. They have much to teach us about serving the poor, counting the cost and prayer. I trust we can serve them by teaching from the Bible and sharing from our experience in building the church.

On the Friday, we travelled back to Phnom Penh where Mike & Kay and I checked into a now familiar hotel and enjoyed the rest of the day relaxing together. I was delighted to visit the Blue Pumpkin coffee shop once again!

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The second weekend saw me meet up with Simon & Becci Brown They are leading the Newfrontiers Church Plant, Liberty Family Church in Phnom Penh and it was a great joy to see them once again, and this time to meet with their church on the Sunday morning. I preached on God’s heart for the nations as they had a special Sunday celebrating this theme.

They and their team of young leaders are doing a great job, building a church that is true to the model of church we see in the New Testament, and reflects the values we hold dear.

It was an unexpected bonus to also meet up with another Newfrontiers leader from the UK who had been travelling to another nation in the Far East.

It has been a real privilege to see what God is doing right across the other side of the word. It has been a joy and an honour to meet with leaders, encourage some churches and to preach and teach in a variety of settings.

At a prayer meeting on the Sunday evening as my trip drew to a close, God broke in and the Holy Spirit moved powerfully. We are praying and asking God for such a breakout here. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. And He’s the same in Derby and the UK & Europe as well as in Cambodia and South East Asia.

Heading out to Cambodia

So, here I am sitting in a lounge at Birmingham airport, enjoying some lunch before heading off into the unknown (for me!) of Cambodia, via Amsterdam and Bangkok. I’m heading out there with good friends, Mike and Kay Sprenger from Darlington, to teach at the Transform Asia pastors conference, to meet up with our friend Setan Lee and to see some of the churches and projects he leads. 

It’s a curious mix of feelings – excitement, nervousness and apprehension all mixed in with the firm knowledge that this trip is beginning to fulfill a number of prophetic words that I have received over recent years. 

God has spoken very clearly about Jubilee having a reach and impact far wider than Derby, and about me travelling to different places. Many of those prophetic words, whilst encouraging, at the time seemed crazy! Could God really do that with me, with us? Well, here’s proof that He can! 

So, what has God spoken to you about? What might He be calling you to do? Meanwhile, watch this space for some updates!

What does the label say?

One of my Christmas presents last year was an electronic labelling machine. This was a great present, and anyone who knows me well will not be surprised that I’ve been labelling anything that doesn’t move, and some things that do! It reminded me of the Dymo machine of years past!

But my fresh passion for labelling has got me thinking… We can be very quick to label other people. And we can be very quick to label ourselves. This often isn’t helpful as we can be too quick to judge and too quick to put people into boxes and place limits around what they, or we, can do.

So, if you’re the type of person that tends to label people – be it others or yourself, my encouragement to you is to hold back from this and ask God to give you His perspective on people. Learn to see people’s potential in God. One of my friends was excellent at this recently, where at a prayer meeting he spoke out what he saw God doing in people’s lives and affirmed their gifts. This was so encouraging and very uplifting. Why not this week, look for opportunities to bless, to build up and to encourage.

If you are a Christian, the only label that God puts on you is one that says “son” or “daughter”. Now, that’s a label really worth having!

A weekend with Dr. Setan Lee from Cambodia

photo 2Last week, Sarah and I were honoured to meet Dr. Setan Lee, who, together with his wife, Randa, started and now lead, Transform Asia, a ministry serving the nation of Cambodia. Transform Asia have around 45 churches, an orphanage, a feeding centre, a trade school, a day care centre, rice distribution and other programmes!

I met him at our ChristCentral Churches team meeting, which he was a guest at, and then we had the privilege of hosting him in Derby for a few days. He spoke to our leaders, at a men’s breakfast and during our Sunday meeting. (The audio from the Sunday morning will go up on the Jubilee website next week).

Hearing his story was quite incredible and very moving. He was saved during the horror of the Killing Fields in the mid 1970’s whilst escaping from the Khmer Rouge through the jungle into Thailand after 4 years in a youth concentration camp, where he saw hundreds of his friends and family killed. His life is now devoted to serving God, preaching a message of forgiveness and looking for ways to serve the people of Cambodia.

Setan and Randa’s life story is summarised here in this short video. I would encourage you to watch it. (WARNING – the video contains graphic images).

I will have the privilege of travelling to Cambodia next year with my good friends Mike & Kay Sprenger from Kings Church Darlington. Together, we will be teaching at a pastor’s conference for the churches Setan oversees and then get to visit a number of churches and projects that Transform Asia run.

According to The Joshua Project, over 98% of the Cambodian population is classified as “unreached”, that is less than 2% are evangelical Christians. The need for both proclamation and demonstration of the Gospel is clear, and a real challenge.

One of our core values as a church is to be involved in reaching nations. We are praying to see what doors God might be opening up here, both for ChristCentral Churches and for Jubilee. Watch this space for more!

The Welsh Outpouring – a personal view

VictoryYesterday evening I travelled with a couple of other church leaders from Derby to Victory Church in Cwmbran, South Wales. For the last month, this church has been holding meetings 5 nights a week as a response to what God has been doing in their midst. These were not started as part of a strategic plan or strategy, but rather as result of what God has been doing.

I started to hear a little about this on Twitter, and when a friend and fellow Newfrontiers pastor visited and wrote about it on his blog, I knew I wanted to go!

Some background

A month ago, on 10th April, God broke in to a regular Wednesday night meeting and they experienced His presence in a new and powerful way. Since then they have seen hundreds of people respond to Christ and many people healed. Over 9,000 people have now been to these outpouring meetings and people are travelling from across Wales, the UK and indeed Europe to see what God is doing and to encounter Him afresh. Many church leaders are going and praying for God to do something similar in their churches.

Wisely, I think, they are not calling this a revival; it’s too early for that. They are calling it an outpouring – the “Welsh Outpouring”. However, it does have many similarities to revivals of previous generations and it is exciting to see what God might do.

You can see their Senior Pastor, Richard Taylor talk a little about how it started here.

So, what did I make of it and what did I learn?

It is clear that this is a church that loves people – really loves people who are far from God. They have a heart to see people reached with the love of Christ and have a passion for God to move in Wales.

The pastor, Richard Taylor, is clearly a man who loves people, loves the church and most of all loves Jesus. He is very quick to point people to Jesus and make it clear that it’s all about Jesus and what He is doing. Jesus really is at the centre of this.

We were queuing for a good 30 minutes to get into the building and the sense of faith and anticipation in the crowd was tangible. Once inside, the band were already playing and we started to worship. My guess is that there were somewhere in the order of around 400+ people. After a while, Richard stepped in and led the meeting in song and then began to preach. He preached a simple yet powerful gospel message and called people to respond. Around 12-15 people responded to Christ, which was fantastic.

One thing I noticed was people’s hunger for God. Here were a group of people hungry for God’s presence and meeting with Him. This really challenged me – have we settled for too little, have I been too easily satisfied? You could feel people’s faith and love for Jesus. That was so encouraging in itself! There was an expectancy – people were expecting to meet with God, and they did. I guess that should not surprise us – as we draw near to Him, He draws near to us.

This was probably what impacted me the most. I have been in other meetings and sensed God’s presence in a greater way, felt more of the Holy Spirit’s power; but I don’t think I have ever seen such faith and expectancy before.

This was not a slick presentation – it was raw and a bit rough around the edges. The stage lights didn’t seem to work, the screen was on the wrong side of the room (because they’ve turned the meeting around by 90 degrees to better accommodate what God is doing). None of that seemed to matter – God was moving in the place.

I do think it’s worth commenting on the context. Here is a local church who were already loving and serving their community. They were already engaging with people far from God, not as a result of a meeting but out of obedience to Christ.

For us, we need to be loving and serving people who don’t know Jesus yet and at the same time praying that God might move in such a way where we live.

Is this revival? I don’t know, but what I do know is that lost people are getting saved, sick people are getting healed and those oppressed are getting set free. That can only be good – and Jesus is getting all the glory.