Arnold Bell – a life well lived

ArnoldI spent this afternoon at the thanksgiving service for the life and ministry of Arnold Bell, who, until his death shortly before Christmas, led City Church Sheffield. The service had a number of tributes from different people who knew him well. Clearly, this was a life well lived.

One of the Elders of the church spoke from Hebrews 11 and described how the writer to the Hebrews talks about these men and women of faith. They were just ordinary people, he said, believing in an extra-ordinary God, and living accordingly. Arnold was an ordinary man who believed in an extra-ordinary God and certainly lived accordingly. His life was an example to many and even his Thanksgiving service was a challenge to us to believe God and live accordingly.

Here’s what I wrote recently on his tribute page:

My first meeting with Arnold was when he was my lecturer when I was studying on FIT for Leadership, and then FIT2 (the forerunners to Leadership Training Foundations & Advanced). I remember being taught to think Biblically and not make assumptions; to look at what the text actually said and not to be afraid to say, “we don’t know” when we really didn’t know!

I remember preaching class with Arnold and also remember what he thought of my sermon! His honest feedback was invaluable and helped to shape my preaching in both content and delivery.

On FIT2, there were only a handful of us and I well remember how we used to try and get him onto Monty Python or other such subjects on a Friday afternoon! His impressions of comedy moments were quite something!

More recently I have had the privilege to serve with him on the ChristCentral team. He always brought such wisdom and insight to situations and will be sorely missed. Arnold – thank you for all you taught me, modelled to me and encouraged me in. Your legacy lives on.

So my question is this – are you believing God, and are you living accordingly?

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A review of North 2011

Over August Bank Holiday weekend, 2,500 people gathered in North Yorkshire for North 2011. We went as a church and had a good number of people staying both on and off site. Despite generous amounts of rain and mud, the weekend was a resounding success. Such a powerful sense of God’s presence and power; outstanding preaching from Terry Virgo, Guy Miller and Jeremy Simpkins; inspiring worship; excellent kids and youth events and a great time away with friends, old and new. Once again, Paul Mogford (Jubilee Church Teesside) and his amazing team served us outstandingly well, by turning a working farm into a venue fit for such a momentous gathering.

In addition to the powerful preaching, God also spoke to us through some very significant prophetic words. Including, being shaped like clay in the potters hands, with North no longer being a holiday camp, but a boot camp where God was raising up an apostolic army!

On the first evening, Jeremy set the tone for the weekend by setting out the key distinctives of the North team and our sphere:

  • Being Friends enjoying God together
  • Building Churches empowered by Word and Spirit
  • Advancing The Kingdom, transforming the world
  • Reaching Nations, making disciples

You can watch a video of us as a team discussing these distinctives here:

Terry wonderfully served us, with 3 morning preaches from Ezra, which culminated in taking an offering which currently stands at £132,000! A very tangible example of how North was moving.

Guy Miller brought a challenging word to us, to believe God for significant growth, and he could see us becoming like a runway at an international airport with many thousands of people coming and going. He felt God challenge us to have the nations firmly in our sights and to dream bigger dreams. Guy’s presence and chemistry with us was also a very tangible foretaste of how the new emerging apostolic teams can and would work together in the future.

North 2011 was so much more than just a weekend conference – it felt like God was fashioning us together, building an Apostolic people, an army who can advance His church and His Kingdom across the nations of the world!

You can download all the main sessions and the videos shown over the weekend from www.north2011.com

(This article was written for and first appeared on www.newfrontiersuk.org)

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?

Central Cities 2010

Central Cities 2010 is an initiative to strengthen local churches in the North Midlands and to resource future Church Planting in the area.

Are you interested in moving to join a young, vibrant Newfrontiers Church in the North Midlands? Are you thinking of being part of a church plant in the future?  Then join us in Derby for Central Cities 2010 on Saturday 27th November 2010 to find out what the Newfrontiers North UK Team are planning for this part of the UK. For further details check out www.centralcities.org.uk or view the video below.

Confidence or arrogance?

Last week I was in Peterborough at the Newfrontiers Prayer & Fasting conference. This gathers around 800 Newfrontiers leaders from across the UK for 2 days of worship, prayer, fasting and seeking God. The conference happens 3 times a year and there are often significant prophetic words which come out of it.

This time, I was particularly taken by a prophetic word brought by Neville Jones from Brighton. He felt God speak about not being so afraid of arrogance that we lose our confidence.  Here is some of what he said…

Neville felt God was saying: “I want to speak to you about confidence in God. Some of you are so frightened of arrogance that you’ve thrown out your confidence. I want to say to you, you can’t be too confident in me. You can’t be too confident in a God who saved you. I didn’t come to you when you were slumbering; I came to you when you were dead. Dead people can’t wake themselves up. I have come to you and woken you up. …. Surely you can have confidence in me….. I’m not calling you to triumphalism but truth…. I’m coming to you again today. It’s not arrogance but confidence.”

The line between confidence and arrogance is a very fine one. I know there have been times I have crossed from confidence into arrogance and similarly, there have also been times when I have held back and not been as confident as God intended.

I think the difference is to do with what you put your hope and trust in. If your hope and trust is in your own ability or skills, that can lead you into arrogance. However, if your hope and trust is in God, and in His ability, then you can come away with confidence; not in yourself, but in Him. This is very different to arrogance.

Becoming arrogant is not good and not honouring to God. But losing your confidence is not good and not honouring to God either. God calls us to have a resolute and unshakeable confidence in Him, and then to live in the good of it, that we might accomplish all that He intends – for His glory. Let’s be confident in a great and mighty God who loves us and wants us to be confident in Him!

Reflections on Together on a Mission 2009

It’s been a few weeks now since this year’s Together on a Mission conference. I’ve been meaning to post some comments for a while, but, as ever, life has been busy. I do wonder, those prolific bloggers – how do they get the time?! Anyway, I digress… Brighton…

I have to say, I thought it was great! Terry (Virgo) was outstanding, talking about the history and future of Newfrontiers. He reminded us of some of the things that are important to us as a movement and encouraged us to hold on to these as we move forward. These talks are well worth a listen (free download here) whether you’re new to Newfrontiers or have been around for years.

For the training track, I signed up to the one on preaching with John Hosier, Greg Haslam and Mbonisi Malaba (Bones). This was superb – really practical and very challening! I will be going through the notes with our other preachers at Jubilee.

PJ Smyth closed the conference with an excellent message about keeping it RAW (take Risks, have Authority and be Wild).

Conferences like this remind us of the strengths that are gained from being part of a worldwide family of churches. We are much stronger together than we are apart.

Church planting

I’ve just got back from meeting with a great group of guys where we were talking about church planing across our region. The East Midlands is a huge area, with many towns without a Newfrontiers church. Whilst there are many churches doing an excellent job, we feel that we want to play our part too and planting churches is a great way of reaching people with the Gospel. As a family of churches, Newfrontiers has a goal of seeing 400 churches in the UK. This requires lots of new churches being started and new leaders being trained to lead them. If you want to know more about church planting,  visit www.ukchurchplanting.org