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.

What to do when there’s a prophet in the house!

JulianWe were very blessed to have our good friend Julian Adams in Derby this weekend just gone. Julian is a gifted prophet and a great gift to the church. The Heaven touches Earth conference we held on Saturday was attended by around 230 people from across Derby and the wider area.  I will post a more detailed review of this later in the week I hope.

Julian also joined us on Sunday morning at Jubilee. He felt he should speak about extravagant worship. Personally, I was both really encouraged and very challenged by this.

I was encouraged because I love enthusiastic worship. Public worship is indeed an overflow of our personal life with God and I love to be in a corporate setting where worship is enthusiastic and passionate.

I was challenged because of a comment he made which was, “Isn’t it funny how extravagant worship of others produces a judgmental spirit in us…?” I have certainly been guilty of this myself, sometimes being irritated by a passionate noisy worshipper in a meeting! When this happens, it reveals the true condition of my heart – not as in love with Jesus as I would want to be. There is a challenge here not to judge others but rather to look at my own relationship with God. (A story about not judging the speck in another’s eyes when there’s a log in your own comes to mind!)

As with all prophetic ministry, what Julian brought needs to be weighed. In fact, that is true not only of prophetic ministry but biblical teaching also. I would be the first one to encourage people to read scripture for themselves and compare what is being taught in church on a Sunday to what the Bible says. We need to be both feeding people with truth and teaching them how to feed themselves with truth.

This Sunday at Jubilee I will follow on from what Julian brought. We will look at what it means to weigh prophecy and how you do that in a God-honouring way. We will consider how all of us can grow in the prophetic, and we will look at the fundamental issue of receiving or being baptised in the Holy Spirit. I do hope you can join us!

Lessons from a hospital bed

I wrote this post last week whilst in hospital but as it didn’t post properly, I have decided to re-post it. It was written before I became very ill again on the Thursday afternoon and overnight, and before I had surgery on the Friday. However, it is an honest reflection of how I felt at the time…

At 10am on Tuesday morning, I was meeting with a pastor friend for coffee in the City Centre to discuss various aspects of church life. I began to feel unwell and by 1pm, I was screaming in agony in the back of an ambulance racing to A&E as the pain of a stuck kidney stone became too much to bear.

It’s now Thursday morning and I am lying in my hospital bed in the Royal Derby Hospital where I have been for the last couple of days. I was in quite a lot of pain yesterday, but I feel better this morning than I have all week. Having said that, this is not over yet and the course of treatment has not finally been decided. However, as I have laid here, there are some lessons I have learnt. So here goes:

1. I am very grateful to family and friends who rearranged schedules and changed their plans in order to help us. Family and friends are important and highly valued.

2. I can only survive for so long without my iPhone (I think I managed 24 hours!)

3. In times of severe pain or trauma when even praying seems impossible, God knows how you feel. He doesn’t judge you for not praying, he just wants to draw close as a loving Father.

4. Although I love my job leading Jubilee and the people I have the privilege of serving, it’s my family I have really missed this week. Meetings can be rearranged and emails can wait, but a hug here or a kind word or action there should not have to wait. I am looking forward to being back at home with my wife and kids. Perhaps it’s only when you’re not with those you love that you realise how much you miss them. I have realised that this week.

So what about you… who do you need to spend more time with, or show love and appreciation to today?

A visit to The Comedy Store

Comedy StoreI like visiting other churches. I find it personally refreshing and always seek to learn something, so yesterday, I took a morning out from Jubilee and visited Christ Central Manchester. This young, vibrant church is being newly led by Jeremy Simpkins who also leads the Newfrontiers North UK Team. It was also great to see my good friend Matt Cernik of Etherscape Design, who having spent the last 10 years in Derby and part of Jubilee, moved to Manchester earlier this year to be part of Christ Central.

Yesterday was the second Sunday in their new venue, the Manchester Comedy Store in the City Centre. This is a great venue! And whilst they were working to overcome the technical challenges of a new venue, it still worked really well and they were served well by the Comedy Store staff.

Jeremy preached from Song of Songs. This is not a book most preachers preach from very often! It can be read in two ways, both equally accurate. Firstly, it is a love story of a man and woman. Most commentators  agree this is most likely King Solomon and a young woman. It is the story of their love and their relationship. It reminds us that God created relationships and marriage. Secondly, it can also be interpreted as a description of Christ’s love for the church. In the Bible, the church is often described as the Bride of Christ, and the relationship between Christ and the church is portrayed in terms of being like a marriage.

Song of Songs is certainly a book full of passion! Jeremy talked about the importance of passionate worship, and how, if our worship is not passionate, we have probably not fully understood God’s passion for us. Song of Songs talks about a kiss – an intimate expression of love. Similarly, God has expressed an intimate and passionate love for us. The question is, what is our expression of love for God like?

As a child of God, God has a passionate and everlasting love for you. So what is your response in life and worship to this wonderful, passionate love?