17th August 2017
I have been feeling really challenged recently by Peter’s words in 1 Peter 3:15 which tell us to, 'Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.' My question to myself is, 'Am I always prepared, always ready, always attentive and open towards the people God places around me?'
I believe God gives us regular opportunities to share the hope and Joy of the Gospel with others. We carry around in our hearts the message about the love of God in Christ. It is the most precious thing we know. Yet the distractions of day-to-day life can easily stop us from seeing the opportunities God gives us to share what we know.
Yet how can we be confident God will place people across our path who might be open to the Gospel? In the process of sharing the Gospel in Athens, the apostle Paul makes a wonderful and fascinating statement:
'From one man God made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.'
(Acts 17: 26-27)
We live where we live not because of some random process of chance. This is also true for everyone who lives around us! But where do we begin? What will we say?
We can learn some helpful lessons from Paul's trip to Athens about the way he responded to people's context and shared the message about Jesus with them accordingly. First, he observed. He walked around Athens and saw many idols. This distressed him and propelled him into action! He wanted everyone to know the truth about Jesus. He reasoned with the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles in the synagogue but then he also went into the market place. Finally he ended up at the Areopagus. Athens had been a world centre for art, architecture and philosophy when Greek culture was a dominant force in the ancient world. Although it had declined by Paul's day it remained a hotbed of philosophical ideas. The Areopagus was a place where people of standing gathered to debate such ideas on a regular basis.
In that context Paul begins his explanation of the Gospel not with reference to the Old Testament or Jewish history, which may have been unfamiliar to his Greek hearers, but by affirming the Athenians as being 'very religious'. He refers to a well-known local shrine which has an altar inscribed 'to an unknown God'. This launches him into a description of the one true God who CAN be known through Jesus. He even quotes two of their poets whose ideas harmonise with what he is saying.
If we apply this approach in our own situation it will encourage us to learn about people's culture, background and identity before we share Christ with them. We can listen to those around us and learn what they think, believe and hope for. We can search for those things which resonate with the truth and provide a springboard for conversation about Jesus who IS the truth.
We have our own story to tell of what we have come to believe and what difference this makes to our lives. Often as we listen to others and show genuine interest in their lives they will quite naturally want to ask us about ours.
When Paul writes to Philemon he says, 'I pray you may be active in sharing your faith so that you will have a full understanding of everything good we have in Christ.' Now there is an incredible observation and one I have found to be true. When we share with others what we know and have experienced of Jesus, the truth about Him becomes yet more deeply embedded in our own hearts. Our faith and joy grow. We appreciate Jesus more.
Annie Twort leads Alpha at King's and oversees New Life, a group for new Christians. She is married to Dickie and they have three grown-up children.
Steve Tibbert is on holiday and will be back in September.
Posted by Annie Twort
10th August 2017
When I reflect on my journey of faith and leadership, I am aware that God has allowed me to walk alongside many great people. At different points along the way, He has used them to help shape me into the person and leader I have become.
My parents are among the biggest influences in my life, and I thank them for their godly, positive example. After giving my life to Christ in my late teens, my pastor, Peter Ledger, and my youth group leaders, Mr and Mrs Chris, were the first to disciple me. Mr Chris met with me for many weeks and laid a great foundation in my life; Peter Ledger gave me my first exposure to church leadership. I am grateful for the time they gave to me as a young man.
When my local church in Bedford joined Newfrontiers in the early 1990's, I began to be exposed to other gifted leaders, such as David Devenish, Dave Holden and Terry Virgo. I have had the privilege of spending many hours in the company of such people. The time spent praying, talking and sharing lives with such people has undoubtedly made me a better leader.
Steve Nicholson is another person I would count as one of my most significant mentors - his counsel to me as a leader and on the church here at King’s cannot be understated.
So, why not take a few moments to ask yourself: Who am I helping to grow? Who are the main influencers on my life? Let's continue to ask God to bring men and women into our lives who will help make us into the people He wants us to become.
Who has God used to shape your life?
This is an edited version of a blog originally posted on 23rd January 2015. Steve Tibbert is taking a break over the summer and will be back in September.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
3rd August 2017
I have written before on the subject of rest and how important it is. Even God rested on the seventh day!
For many years now, I have built times of rest into my weekly and annual diary. I plan my diary 18 months ahead and my evenings off, days off and holidays are some of the first things to go in. For more driven personality types such as myself, this kind of detailed planning may be essential. I have found that by making rest a ‘task’, I ensure that those days off and holidays really do happen.
Rest gives our bodies time to recover, our emotions time to catch up and our minds time to reflect and process thoughts. On slower days, I often find I am able to connect with God in a deeper way. When rested, we can be re-energised for the tasks ahead; it is often during periods of rest that I have some of my best ideas and hear God speak to me most clearly.
Like many of you, I will be taking some holiday over the summer period. I am looking forward to time with Deb and the family, visiting new places and reading some of those books that have been sitting by my bed for a while! Although I will be in the office for some of the summer period, I will be taking a break from blogging for a few weeks. This will therefore be my last post until September. However, some of our other staff members will be writing guest blogs during August so do watch out for those.
If you would like to read more on the importance of rest, do have a look at this paper I wrote a few years ago.
Whatever your plans for this summer, I hope you will be able to take advantage of the longer days and make some time to relax and rest. I look forward to seeing you again in September.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
27th July 2017
In my last two blog posts, I have endeavoured to summarise what I shared at the UK Day of Prayer on 5th July. In the first, I talked about how I believe we are still called to be family, and in the second that we should continue to be led by the prophetic. In the final blog of this three-part series, I will share three key areas which give real purpose to our togetherness.
While most of the life and multiplication happens naturally in the newly established households, we will expect to occasionally gather as an extended family at key moments. As I said on the day, coming together in this way brings several benefits:
Firstly, we should never underestimate the power of unity and the value of apostolic fellowship, friendship and accountability. Our togetherness protects, provokes and propels us forward.
Secondly, although relatively small compared to some UK movements and networks, I believe that the 300 churches that we represent together still have a significant part to play within the wider body of Christ. We must not lose our restoration roots, the strength of our collective voice and our potential influence for good.
Thirdly, we must remain open to far greater collaboration between different households. In time, church planting and additional national initiatives could flow out of our partnership.
Lastly, family names are important – they give identity. I believe the name 'Newfrontiers' still opens more doors than it closes.
Newfrontiers is a group of apostolic leaders partnering together on global mission, joined by common values and beliefs, shared mission and genuine relationships.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham and Lee. Over the past fifteen years the church has seen continued growth, both in size and diversity. Steve is also involved in Newfrontiers and regularly coaches other lead elders. His book, Good to Grow, was published in July 2011. He is married to Deb, and they have three sons.