23rd November 2017
It is probably an understatement to say this last week has been eventful!
As many of you will know, Deb and I were in Harare, Zimbabwe at the weekend. This was a trip that had been booked months in advance, our sixth visit to that great nation and to our friends in River of Life Church. We always keep a close eye on news coming from there, and although we knew that the vice president had been sacked a week or so earlier, we did not expect this to be the start of events that led to an apparent takeover by the army and Mugabe being placed under house arrest just a day before we were due to travel!
Naturally, it raised questions about whether or not we should go. We sought counsel from our friends on the ground and also spoke to fellow King's Church elder, William Dalziel, who was already in Harare. Everyone was able to reassure us that, at least for now, everything was peaceful. Deb and I prayed, talked and both felt certain that we should go and stand with our brothers and sisters in Harare.
There has been much discussion about whether or not this was a coup. Some have said that it could be described as 'a very Zimbabwean coup'. True, there were far fewer people on the flight into Harare than normal, but our impression on landing and then driving across Harare was of a country that felt both calm and cautiously hopeful. The army presence, what we saw of it, seemed low key and determinedly friendly.
We arrived in Harare on Friday and left on Monday, and over those four days we had a taste of the rollercoaster ride of hope and disappointment that Zimbabweans have lived with for years. On Saturday, as tens of thousands marched through the streets of Harare, we adjusted our programme so the River of Life Church leaders could join with the masses celebrating what they hoped would be the end of the Mugabe era. That evening we met with some of the Harare church leadership teams and listened to their own experiences of being on the march. Many described it as a street party, and their happiness and optimism were infectious.
On Sunday morning I had the joy of appointing and laying hands on three new elders and then preaching at the River of Life services. This is a church which we love and where we feel very much at home, and to be with them on this Sunday in particular was an honour. Then on Sunday evening we sat with our dear friends Scott and Claire Marques and watched Mugabe's live televised address to the nation. Expectations were high: Whatsapps were flooding in, people were recording it live and we were taking selfies to remember the moment, ready for what everyone believed was going to be his resignation speech. As his rambling statement continued for twenty minutes, it gradually became clear that he was stubbornly refusing to go. What a crushing anticlimax! For a while I was stunned - I'd seen a glimpse of what Zimbabweans have been going through for decades. So the four of us prayed together before retiring to bed, declaring once again our faith that God is sovereign and will have His way in Zimbabwe!
We are now in Cape Town and taking the chance to spend some time with Steve and Anna van Rhyn from Jubilee Community Church, another excellent church. I have also had the joy of spending an afternoon with their eldership team. Just before we met Steve and Anna on Tuesday evening, we received a message to say that Mugabe had resigned! As we watched footage of crowds of people celebrating on the streets of Harare, we shared in their joy and relief and the four of us drank a toast to our friends in Zimbabwe!
Zimbabweans are a people who have suffered greatly for many years, and their patience, tenacity and resilience never fails to impress us. The faith the church has shown, and their determination to continue to share the gospel and express God's kingdom in whatever way they can, is inspirational. To have walked these last few days with our Zimbabwean friends has been a huge privilege. We continue to pray for this great nation, for peace to continue and for God's purposes to be fulfilled.
Deb and I return to London on Friday and we are looking forward to being back at King's on Sunday.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
13th November 2017
At church yesterday, Deb and I picked up our Big Red Box, ready to fill with a list of food items and Christmas treats. It is great to know it will be going to a family who might otherwise be going without. We have also just ordered our King’s Christmas Tree – we love a real a tree at Christmas, and all the profits from tree sales go towards providing hot meals at The Feast, our weekly drop-in for the homeless and vulnerable in the local area.
An integral part of our vision at King’s is to extend God’s love and mercy in practical ways to those who are hurting or in need. If you have been around King’s in the last few weeks, you will undoubtedly have heard about both Big Red Box and King’s Christmas Trees, and if you have not already done so, why not get involved by buying a real tree or contributing towards a hamper?
I have asked Alice, our Jericho Road Project Manager, to give an update on how things are going so far this year:
Big Red Box
We have had a great start to Big Red Box 2017 with over 200 boxes packed already! We have had more engagement with the local community than ever before with the Lewisham Young Offenders Service (YOS) helping us sort through donations, 32 GoodGym runners involved with our first packing evening and our local MP Heidi Alexander joining us for our second.
We have also had some incredibly generous donations from our times at the Sainsbury’s stores in Sydenham and Charlton. Each year, our Christmas hampers go out to some of the neediest families and individuals across South East London and are distributed by Social Services teams in Lewisham, Bromley, Bexley, Greenwich, Southwark and Croydon, as well as other local charities and organisations. With their help we were able to distribute 1,760 Big Red Box food hampers in 2016 and we hope to reach even more people this year.
If you would like to get involved then please go to bigredbox.org for more details or call 020 8690 5121.
King’s Christmas Trees
We’re reaching new heights with our King’s Christmas Tree sales, selling 100 trees online in the first week! Our mission is to share hope in our community not only at Christmas but all year round – that is why all of the sales and donations from the King’s Christmas Tree project go to running The Feast, our weekly Wednesday outreach meal, which not only offers a hot three-course meal but also advice, friendship and clothes to homeless and vulnerable people in our community.
Trees are available to buy now at kingschristmastrees.org. You can also volunteer to help at The Feast on a Wednesday night. Call 020 8690 5121 to find out more details.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
9th November 2017
We are well and truly into November and I can no longer ignore the fact that Christmas is coming soon. It seems the retailers have been aware of this for several months already – it has been hard to avoid the displays of gifts and decorations for some time now – but I prefer to wait until the summer holidays are a more distant memory before turning my thoughts towards the approaching festive season.
In fact, as many of you know, I love Christmas. I love the time spent with family and friends, the wonderful meals, games with the kids and the giving and receiving of presents. I love singing carols, eating mince pies and watching films in front of a log fire. But most of all I love the fact that it is the season when we celebrate the coming of our saviour Jesus Christ.
We like to do Christmas in a big way at King’s, and the highlight each year has to be our annual carol services. Preparations for this year began months ago and rehearsals are already underway. The theme is What a Beautiful Name and we will be exploring the various names of Jesus in a short preaching series running up to Christmas. In 2016 we welcomed some 3000 people to our carol services – we hope to exceed that this year. Once again, there will be many opportunities to come along, with services over two weekends, across all three sites and at different times of day. All details can be found on our Christmas webpage.
As well as spreading the good news of Jesus by inviting people to the carol services, we also want to show mercy to those who are in need in our community, through our Big Red Box project and King’s Christmas Trees. So once again there are three ways to get involved this Christmas at King’s:
1. COME TO THE CAROL SERVICES – Come to at least one, invite your friends, family and work colleagues and bring someone along. It has to be the easiest invite of the year!
2. GIVE HOMELESS PEOPLE A GIFT THIS CHRISTMAS – Buy a King’s Christmas Tree and support homeless people throughout the year through our Jericho Road Project. Each year the profits from the trees sold help provide hot meals at our weekly drop-in centre.
3. HELP PUT FOOD IN PEOPLE’S HOMES – Take part in our Big Red Box project providing boxes of food for the neediest families in our local community. Last year we distributed 1760 boxes to families and individuals in need.
So, with December just a few weeks away now, I hope you are starting to get as excited about Christmas as I am. Meanwhile, if you are new to the church or have not had the chance to come to one of our carol services before, have a look at the video below to see what you can look forward to.
Posted by Steve Tibbert
2nd November 2017
Over the past month I have found myself in no fewer than three different conferences, each of them presenting an opportunity to learn from others. It began with the Newfrontiers Global 17 conference, which I wrote about last week. No sooner had Deb and I returned from that than we were off to the Richmond Group, a relational network of churches in the UK hosted by Nicky Gumbel from HTB Church. Then this week I have been at Kings Gate Church in Peterborough with some of our King’s team and teams from over fifty other churches, for three days’ teaching on the subject of Biblical generosity. It has been a month of excellent input!
It is a huge privilege to hear great leaders and speakers share their stories of God’s grace and faithfulness. At the Richmond Group we were joined by Brian Houston, Global Senior Pastor of Hillsong. As he spoke I was deeply impressed with his heart, faith and vision. He believes in a big God and listening to him inspired me to believe God for more. At KingsGate this week we heard from Robert Morris, founding Senior Pastor of Gateway Church in Texas, who suggested a difference between preaching and teaching – that good preaching should answer the why question while good teaching should answer the how question. It was a new way of looking at the subject and certainly made me stop and think. Then today we have the joy of welcoming Geoff and Sherry Surratt to spend some time with our team here at King’s. Geoff is one of the leading experts on multi-site church, and we are looking forward to benefitting from his wisdom and insights. Geoff and Sherry have also just published an excellent book called Together, which draws on their experience of ministry and marriage.
I am hugely grateful for these recent opportunities to hear from such highly respected leaders. I have been in ministry for nearly thirty years now, but I know I still have much to learn – I am always looking out for people who are ahead of me. I believe it is important for each of us, no matter how experienced we may be, to continue placing ourselves in contexts where we can keep on learning. This Friday and Saturday, King’s will once again be hosting the GLS Leadership Summit videocast conference, which presents another opportunity to receive excellent input from some of the best leaders around the world – I highly recommend it to all of you! You will find more details here and if you are not booked in already, you can still turn up on the day. Let’s keep learning together!
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.