Newday 2017


As I write this I am at an annual event that takes place every August with thousands of teenagers which has become a highlight of our church calendar – Newday!

This year, we have over 70 young people from Community Church plus around 25 leaders and servers. We have the pleasure of joining with Hope Community Church Brentwood, and with Revelation Church Camden, so all together we are catering for over 160 people!

Among our young people we have those who are not yet Christians, those who have drifted, and many who are following Jesus. There is something for everyone at Newday. Every day we start with worship and the word, then seminars before lunch. The afternoon is free with sports and other activities available, the after dinner the main evening meeting with great worship and amazing speakers.

Already (Thursday) we have seen four of our young people make a first time commitment to follow Jesus, and many more rededicate themselves as disciples of Jesus. Over the whole site there have already been over 100 first time commitments to follow Jesus and some amazing healing stories. Our young people have been challenged to make good decisions which will shape the purpose and direction of their lives.

This is why this is such an important event for us as a church. Anywhere where we see people saved it is worth giving our time, effort, and finances towards. At Newday every year hundreds of young people decide to follow Jesus. Also, these weeks prove to be pivotal in giving direction for our young people. Some in the past have had their whole purpose for their life laid out for them at Newday and have followed that leading.

Continue to pray for us, for the remaining few days, that many more will meet with God, and pray for the ongoing discipleship of our young people when we return back to our everyday lives. Let us pray that our young people will continue to follow Jesus and honour every decision and commitment made at Newday.

David S Bareham

Thursday 3 August 2017

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Flip Flops and Fruitfulness!


 

Flip Flops

Then God said to Noah, – “Go out from the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing that is with you of all flesh-birds and animals and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth-that they may swarm on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” – Genesis 8:15-17

 

We all suffer loss in our lives. Some is serious, traumatic, heart-breaking, and painful. Other times it is just a nuisance and an inconvenience. Well, yesterday I lost my favourite pair of flip flops!

My story starts a few weeks ago when I received a letter from Vauxhall Motors about my Zafira car. It explained that there was a recall on the car to fix a known electrical problem found on some Zafiras. When I called to get the recall work done I was told that I had to wait until I received the next letter from Vauxhall in August. As I had been driving my Zafira car for about nine years without any sign of a problem, and had it regularly serviced, I was content to wait as suggested as I believed that my car was not one of the cars that had the known problem.

Yesterday, five minutes from home, smoke started to come from the engine of my car. I quickly pulled over, grabbed a couple of bags from the car and got to a safe distances, only to see flames engulf my car.

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The Fire Brigade were quickly on the scene and soon put the fire out. When they had finished my car looked like this:


Praise God no-one was hurt, and within a couple of hours, my car had been recovered and taken away for inspection by the insurers, and I was at home, safe and sound. As the day went on I discovered that the subject of fires in Vauxhall Zafiras had been discussed in the House of Commons that very day and another Zafira car fire had been in the news[1]. (Search #zafiracarfires on Twitter for more information)

The purpose of my journey that day was to join the Relational Mission[2] Apostolic Team for a couple of days, and with the kind assistance of my parents, I arrived, just a couple of hours late. As I walked in, Mike Betts, who leads Relational Mission, stopped preaching and together with the rest of the team warmly welcomed me. It was great to be amongst good friends after the morning I had experienced. After giving thanks to God for my safety, Mike then referred to the fact that the bible says that Noah was spared for fruitfulness[3], and that God had “spared my life for fruitfulness”. Firstly, the seriousness of what had happened dawned upon me, and I was truly grateful to God for His safe keeping. Secondly, it was a powerful reminder to me of the purpose of my life which is to follow Jesus and to be fruitful. The fruitfulness of God’s people is a great theme of the bible. At creation God blessed Adam and Eve and declared over them that they should be fruitful[4].  Jesus said “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit” and without Him in our lives we can do nothing of eternal value[5].

We often do not know what God spares us from each day, protecting and watching over us. Sometimes, like for me yesterday, it it very obvious. However, we do know what God has spared us for. He has spared us to be fruitful for Him. Everyone of us has a call, a dream, within us. God has given us this day, today, to follow Him and to take some more steps on our life adventure, fulfilling our calling and bearing fruit that will last for all eternity. Every day is a gift from God, let us commit to follow Jesus wholeheartedly today, and allow His Holy Spirit to lead us into a fruitful day for His glory.

Oh, and my flip flops? They were in my car and would have melted away! A sad loss and an inconvenience as a trip to the shops is now required to replace them!

 

Blessings,

David Bareham

@DavidBareham

 

 

[1] http://www.itv.com/news/westcountry/2016-07-19/vauxhall-boss-apologises-after-another-car-bursts-into-flames/

[2] Relational Mission is a family of churches belonging to the Newfrontiers global network of churches. See http://www.relationalmission.com

[3] Genesis 8:17

[4] Genesis 1:28

[5] John15:5
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Living Hope


Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, – 1 Peter 1:3

Fifteen months ago, Steve and his wife Diana were sent from our church to join The Sozo Foundation, a project working in Vrygrond, Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa. Yesterday, Steve and Diana were with us back at Community Church and Steve preached about the living hope that we find in the Gospel of Jesus, and recounted wonderful stories of transformation from the community where they now work.

The Sozo project works with those that are forgotten, downtrodden, suffering injustice, and without much hope. They engage with those who are drug addicts, in gangs, those who have been in and out of prison, and many who have been living this way since their teenage years. Young people come to them who are expected to drop out of education, with no chance of future employment. Steve said that there are deep and real problems, and that they have nothing else to give but living hope in the Gospel. It is only from this starting point that real transformation can take place.

 “We have nothing else to give, but living hope in the Gospel”

Jesus is the hope for the world, for everyone, whatever their situation or circumstance. It was Paul in his letter to the Romans that said that he was “bound” or under obligation to Greeks and non-Greeks, it was as though he had a debt to them for the sake of the Gospel. He goes on to say:

 “… I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” Romans 1:16

There is power in the Gospel, and it is as powerful today as it was for Paul and the early church. The amazing truth is that we all, as followers of Jesus, carry this Good News wherever we go! We also have an obligation to those God brings to us to share Good News with them. We should be good news to those who know us. As we follow Jesus, we know joy, peace and righteousness, and we should impart this to others through works, wonders and words.

As we read in the New Testament of incredible stories of lives changed by the Good News of Jesus we also hear of wonderful stories today about the same Gospel powerfully transforming the lives of people who put their faith in Him. When Steve preached he reminded us that we can start with “the one”, the person God has put in our path so that we can bring the Good News of living hope in Jesus to them. He encouraged us to believe for wonderful stories of transformation in our communities, just as they are seeing in South Africa.

Who can we share God’s Story with today? What good deed can we do to demonstrate God’s loving kindness? How can we be good news to people around us so that they can receive living hope for their lives?

David Bareham
@DavidBareham

You can find out more about the work of The Sozo Foundation by visiting their website www.thesozofoundation.org.za

Follow Steve Morris on Twitter @mrstevemorris

Hear Steve’s sermon from Sunday 3rd April at Community Church by clicking here www.mycommunitychurch.org.uk/media/podcasts

Reflections on 10 Days of Prayer


Springs of living water

She said to him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have given me the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water.” And he gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. – Joshua 15:19

As we end our 10 Days of Prayer and Fasting I believe that God has spoken very clearly to us through his written word, and through the prophetic word. There was an initial prophetic word given to the church about water gushing out and about springs being dug. This has been a recurring theme throughout the 10 days, which I believe has been grounded in the written word of God as we kept coming back to the above verse, Joshua 15:19. In this blog I want to explore this further and then see what I believe this means for us as a church.

In the book of Joshua there are the “land-grant” narratives including the passage in chapter 14 where Joshua blesses Caleb and gives him Hebron as promised to him by Moses many years before (Deut. 1:36; cf. Num. 14:24). In Joshua 15 we see that Caleb drove out the inhabitants of the land, and gave his daughter, Achsah, as a wife to Othniel who conquered Kiriath-seher. It is his daughter that then says to her father since you have given me Negeb (or Negev) give me also water. Negeb was the south lands which were dry and arid, so the request was for adjoining land which had springs of water. Caleb granted her request and gave her the upper and lower springs.

Not only does to show us a father’s heart to grant the requests of his children, but also, in the context of this blog, to demonstrate the need of water for fruitfulness. What good would have been a dry and barren land to Othniel and Achsah? Water is required for their well-being, their flocks and crops.

This is a recurring theme throughout scripture and the illustration of a dry land is applied spiritually as in the Psalms:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. – Psalm 63:1

Sometimes we can identify with the psalmist in our own lives as we hunger and thirst after God. Jesus picks up this theme as he spoke to the woman at the well about “living water” he said that:

“… whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:14

Of course the “spring of water welling up” is the Holy Spirit in our lives, bringing fruits of righteousness, peace and joy to every Spirit filled believer. It was significant that as we finished our 10 Days we then celebrated Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church, and God so wonderfully met with us. We need to be continually filled with God’s Holy Spirit so that our lives will be fruitful and productive for his kingdom.

For us as a church, we need to keep coming back to God to be filled with him, so that the work that we do is fruitful. We have been shown favour in the community with opportunities to serve and minister God’s love, peace, comfort and justice. However, this can sometimes be a dry and barren work, without much fruit. Let us pray constantly for a Holy Spirit anointing on the work of our hands so that we will see much fruit in people’s lives. Isaiah 61 starts by declaring that “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me”, then continues to speak about the fruitfulness of this anointing: comfort, liberty, freedom, beauty, joy, and restoration. Our prayer must be that our work and ministry brings transformation, that God will anoint his church to be change agents for our communities, friends, families, and work colleagues. That springs of living water will well up and many people will be saved, and will follow Jesus, restored, healed and set free.

Let us persevere in our prayer that the Holy Spirit will continue to be poured out upon the church just as he was at the first Pentecost, and that the church will be fruitful and that there will be a spring of living water gushing forth bringing refreshing on a dry and thirsty land.

Come Holy Spirit!

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. – Isaiah 44:3

10 Days of Prayer and Fasting


10 days of prayer

10 Days

As we embark on our 10 Days of Prayer and Fasting we launch into a time of waiting on God for his encouragement, empowerment and enabling. We take our 10 Days from the day of the ascension of Jesus until the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon his disciples[1]. During this time there will be opportunities for corporate prayer and an encouragement for us to give a focus to prayer in our private lives (a full programme for our 10 Days can be found here). As we give ourselves for this purpose, I know that God will meet with us and that this will be an important season for us as a church. However, I believe that we should consider how we should approach God, what is our priority in prayer, and what do we trust that God will do for us as we pray.  I know that God will do far more than we can imagine through our prayers, but here are some thoughts that might help us as we join together in prayer before our Lord.

A people purified and prepared

John the Baptist was the herald that proclaimed the coming of Jesus. His purpose was to not only to prepare the way for the coming King[2] but to prepare a people for a Messiah.

“…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” Luke 1:17

We know that we can come to Jesus “just as we are” because of his great grace. However, as we gather together to pray corporately I want to encourage us to come prepared. John preached a message of repentance[3], proclaimed the fulfilment of the promises of God through the coming Messiah[4], and looked forward to new age of the Holy Spirit[5]. Let us purify ourselves through repentance[6], come with prayers full of faith expecting God to answer and fulfil his word among us, and believe for even greater things to come. A people prepared to enter into his wonderful presence.

A people passionately pursuing the presence

When Jesus ascended he instructed his disciples to wait until the Holy Spirit came upon them[7]. They responded by meeting together in prayer[8]. I wonder what those prayer meetings would have been like. I do not expect that they were waiting in silence! I believe that they were pursuing God to fulfil his word and send the Holy Spirit, his very presence. We are set apart from the world as the temple of the one true God[9], full of his wonderful presence so that we will display his glory. If we are carriers of the presence of God the world will truly see the glory of God in His Church, and, in the words of Isaiah, we will no longer be called Deserted, but we will be a crown of splendour in the Lord’s hand[10].  Over these 10 Days of prayer let us passionately pursue the presence of God amongst us, for he has promised to fill his Church so that we might fulfil the purpose of our calling.

A people of purpose

When the first disciples first received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost things completely changed. Instead of meeting together in private, they started to preach in public[11]. They had been waiting, now they had a work to do. From a place of prayer came a sense of purpose.

When Isaiah entered into the Holy Place and worshipped, he was commissioned to go[12]. When the disciples saw the risen Lord, they worshipped him, then they were commissioned to go[13]. Let us believe that as we pray, worship,  and wait upon God over these 10 Days, he will direct us, commission us, give us clarity of purpose, and send us out on his Mission.

As we go through these 10 Days, let us be a people who are purified and prepared, passionate for his presence, and full of purpose for His glory!



[1] Jesus rose from the dead on the Feast of First Fruits. Pentecost was seven weeks later. That’s why it’s sometimes called the Feast of Weeks. The actual dates of both were established by counting from the first Sabbath after Passover. First Fruits was the first day after the Sabbath and Pentecost was the 50th day. In Acts 1:3 says that Jesus ascended into Heaven 40 days after His resurrection. Therefore in this 10 days we mark the end of the Lord’s personal ministry on earth with his ascension and the beginning of the church with the arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost.

[2] Luke 3:4

[3] Mark 1:4

[4] Luke 2:76-79

[5] Matthew 3:11

[6] Isaiah 1:15-16

[7] Acts 1:4

[8] Acts 1:14

[9] 1 Corinthians 3:16

[10] Isaiah 62:3-4

[11] Acts 2

[12] Isaiah 6

[13] Matthew 28:16-20

Musings from Muizenberg


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We have just got back from two weeks staying at Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa. What a great time we had. On the first week we were with a team from Community Church, Chafford Hundred, and we worked with The Sozo Foundation in the Vrygrond community. We were blessed also to have Mark Melluish with us from the UK New Wine churches and we took part in a significant ceremony laying the foundations for the new Educare Centre.

We then painted the community library, and Anita (my lovely wife) did some work with the mums from Vrygrond teaching baby massage, and health and hygiene. I had the great privilege of preaching at The Bay Community Church on Sunday morning and enjoyed the generous hospitality of the church throughout our stay.

We also had time to take in the breathtaking scenery of the CapeTown area and see its beauty in two weeks of glorious sunny and warm “winter” weather! The contrast between the beautiful scenery and the dry dusty settlements and between the “haves” and “have nots” is stark!

So what have I learnt in our time in Cape Town?

Of course it is very evident that the need is great. Even in the area where we stayed there were hundreds of thousands of people living in small, cramped shacks, some in formal settlements, some in informal settlements. Whilst there are some affluent areas, poverty is everywhere. Most of the housing areas are still grouped by ethnicity, race, or colour of skin. Educational opportunities are still limited for those from the townships.

In the midst of all this, I see great hope for the future. There are new housing communities being established that are truly multicultural. There is a lot of regeneration projects in the area bringing employment to those in need of work. There are great NGO’s like The Sozo Foundation doing incredible work transforming lives, families and communities. And then of course there is the church! Truly the church is the answer. As the oft quoted Bill Hybels says:

“The local church is the hope of the world.

There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness.

Still to this day, the potential of the local church is almost more than I can grasp. No other organization on earth is like the church. Nothing even comes close.”
– Bill Hybels in Courageous Leadership

This is absolutely true, as the church carries the Good News of Jesus to those in need.

However, the thing that I learnt and will carry with me in my prayers is that the issues that the country faces are complex and the solutions must be long term. My immediate responses to some of the problems came from my UK background and understanding. I soon realised that it was not so straight forward! There are different cultures with deep rooted hurt which go back generations. The scale of need is hard to imagine. That is why NGO’s like The Sozo Foundation, and churches like The Bay Community Church that work with the community to empower transformation from the community through practical and spiritual renewal will leave a lasting legacy.

We must pray for their ongoing work which is truly amazing and will see many lives, families and communities transformed and won for the Kingdom!

A Prophetic Statement


What foundations should we lay?

On Friday 20th Junes we gathered on the new site for The Sozo Foundation Educare facility, in Vrygrond, Cape Town. It was an exciting ceremony as we celebrated the start of the building with people from Vrygrond community, the Sozo Foundation, the Bay Community Church and a team from the UK.

Four of us were chosen to represent the different organisations involved, Mark Melluish representing New Wine, Sheldon Kidwell representing The Bay Community Church Cape Town, Roy Kempster Chairman of the foundation, and myself representing Community Church, Chafford Hundred. Assisted by students from the education centre we then made a very clear prophetic statement.

In the four corners of the foundations of the new building we laid Bibles and copies of prophetic words concerning the project. These were then covered in concrete sealing them into the foundations of the building. The Educare Centre will be built on foundations that contain the word of God!

The foundations of a building are essential, and in the same way what we build on in life determines how we live. Knowing and living by the Word of God gives firm foundations for our life. The psalmist, when speaking about the word of God says:

The law of the Lord is perfect and preserves one’s life. The rules set down by the Lord are reliable and impart wisdom to the inexperienced. The Lord ‘s precepts are fair and make one joyful. The Lord ‘s commands are pure and give insight for life. The commands to fear the Lord are right and endure forever. The judgments given by the Lord are trustworthy and absolutely just. They are of greater value than gold, than even a great amount of pure gold; they bring greater delight than honey, than even the sweetest honey from a honeycomb. Yes, your servant finds moral guidance there; those who obey them receive a rich reward.
Psalm 19:7-11

Let us pray that all The Sozo Foundation does will be based upon the Word of God, and that lives are changed by the Good News of Jesus. And let us make sure that God’s Word is in our heart and is seen in the way that we live. Let the Word of God be foundational in all that we do!

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Cape Contrasts


We have been in Cape Town now for four days. It is truly beautiful! The mountains, beaches, and rugged coastline are really stunning. We have travelled around the coast and done all of the tourist things; Kalk Bay, Fish Hoek, Simons Town, Scarborough for lunch, Kommetjie, Chapmans Peak, Cape Point, and Signal Hill to watch the sun set! There are also some lovely houses, shops and restaurants all around the area.

We have also spent a day in the township of Vrygrond, a place of poverty, gangs, abuse, and drugs. A neglected community where it is hard to see any future, any direction, or any hope. What a contrast!

However, today (Sunday) we were at church; The Bay Community Church. It is here that we can start to make sense of these stark differences in the communities of Cape Town. It is through a church, passionate about Jesus, that we find answers to the problems that surround us. It is through the gospel of Jesus that we find hope. It is very evident in the church here in Cape Town that they believe that Jesus makes a difference. The worship this morning focused on Jesus, his Name, his glory, his wonderful plan. We were encouraged to have such a high view of the coming King that it would change the way that we live.

It is in the church where everyone is valued, accepted, and loved, regardless of background or race. It is from a church living for Jesus, that practical support and development initiatives flow into the community of Vrygrond. This truly is following the teaching of the bible. God blessing his people so that his people can bless others. The radiant, glorious church of Jesus is the hope of the world!20140622-222639-80799847.jpg

Sabbatical Day One


So here I am, facing two and a half months sabbatical! It feels strange after nearly nineteen years of being involved in leadership in the church to be in a place where you take time off from church leadership. This means no emails, no meetings, no appointments, no leadership decisions, no daytime work schedule, no evenings out, and as much as possible not talking about church matters. On the other hand it is a great opportunity to focus on God, prayer and worship, to celebrate the body of Christ, to study and read, and to have some time off!

I started today, Wednesday 18th June and am writing this blog on the plane on the way to Cape Town with my lovely wife, Anita. We are travelling with a team from Community Church and will have one week with them and one weeks holiday on our own. We are very much looking forward to joining Anton and Elana and their new twin babies, Keenan and Keren. Also we will enjoy meeting up with Sheldon and Kathleen leaders at The Bay Community Church who visited us whilst they were in the UK last year.

The first week will include some painting and decorating and taking part in an Eden garden project. Anita will also be working with some of the mums teaching baby massage and hygiene skills. We will also take the time to be with the other leaders of the church. So a busy first week with the team then a more relaxing second week with Anita.

I am grateful to God for this sabbatical and believe for refreshing time. Of course this time is only possible because of a strong team of leaders at Community Church and we are truly blessed to have so many good leaders throughout the church.

All the glory to God!

David

Why Two Services?


Two Services

On 23rd March 2014 we will enter a new exciting season as Community Church in Thurrock and Basildon. We will commence a new second Sunday service on Chafford Hundred. This means that we will have three Sunday services over two sites: two morning services starting at 10:30, one at Chafford Hundred, and one at Chadwell, and one afternoon service at 16:00 at Chafford Hundred.

So why a second service? Based on our average Sunday attendance for the twelve months of 2013 we have already in 2014 seen over 15% increase[1] so we see that God is continuing to add to our number. This means that most Sunday mornings at Chafford Hundred we are over 90% full. So if we are to continue to grow, we must make space for others to join us. After prayerful consideration we believe that a 16:00 Sunday Service will enable us to do this.

We have just recently launched a new site in Chadwell St. Mary (Sunday 2nd March) and with this new second service on Chafford Hundred the church has seen a lot of change already this year. For some, change can be difficult. There are people who like it the way that it is. There even people who like it the way that it was before it is the way that it is! However, we can see change as a catalyst that stirs us into new expectations and new opportunities that releases more people to get involved in the ministry that God has given to us as a church. Hans Kung says:

“A church which pitches its tents without constantly looking out for new horizons, which does not continually strike camp, is being untrue to its calling ….. [We must] play down our longing for certainty, accept what is risky, and live by improvisation and experiment.”[2]

So this Sunday going to two services on Chafford Hundred will be a new venture for us. We are stepping out in faith and obedience, not really knowing where this will lead. But one thing is for sure, when God says go, we will go!

David Bareham

This post is reproduced on the Community Church Chafford Hundred Website


[1] Statistics for 2014 up to week ending 16/03/14 across two sites

[2] Kung, Hans, The Church as the People of God