Archive for November, 2010

Introducing the FP Team:

November 30th, 2010

Well, we’ve already been here for three months now but we thought it was time to officially introduce the Churchcentral FP team of 2010-2011. You may have seen us rushing around on a Sunday morning but you might not have realised who we are and what we are actually doing. So here is a quick introduction to us…

First up we have Miss Jo Sharman. Having already lived in Birmingham for three years she is a well established member of Churchcentral who decided to dedicate this year to the church after graduating in African Studies with Development last year. She’s the international brain box of the year team and works with several different organisations. One of the projects she is involved with is working for Raddlebarn Primary School where she teaches English to international pupils. She is also heavily involved with Restore, a charity that works alongside and supports newly arrived asylum seekers to the UK. Talk to her for any amount of time and her passion for this work is clear to see. She is also involved in Churchcentral’s Totz work as well as acting official tour guide to me and Sam when we first arrived in Birmingham three months ago!

Next up we have Sam. Sam is newly arrived from Bromley and is currently residing in the Bavingtons basement! (Converted basement I hasten to add!) So having fully immersed himself into life in Birmingham Sam is our go to guy when it comes to technical matters. As technology is neither a friend of mine nor Jo, Sam is a life-saver in the office when it comes to technological difficulties! It is Sam who helps ensure that Sunday mornings run without a glitch a task now that we have two sites is no small feat! He is also involved with the Bearwood toddler group as well as ‘KidzKlub’ on a Saturday so he’s kept busy as well as having to cope with an otherwise female FP team.

And finally there’s me, confusingly also called Jo (in the office it’s a nightmare!). I’m an Essex girl born and bred and have been mocked mercilessly about white stilettos and fake tans since arriving in the West Midlands. I’m involved in several projects; helping to write and manage the newly launched blog, writing materials for Kidzcentral and I am working alongside a couple of local charities. One of these is Karis, where I help with general admin as well as visiting several of their elderly clients where I enjoy being fed cake and tea! I am also involved in ‘KidzKlub’ on a Saturday which is always fun (so far a noodle and mussel foot spa has been the oddest experience!) and am generally enjoying life as a part of Churchcentral.

So this is the summary of the team so far. We have been here for three months now and have already begun to come together as a team. We’ve had a laugh and are really excited for the year ahead of us. We want to serve you as a church to the best of our abilities and we are looking forward to the future adventures and challenges that are facing us!

Categories: Central Life Tags: ,

Perspectives on Pain and Suffering

November 26th, 2010

When we experience pain, the natural response is to ask, “Why?” In times of suffering, we find ourselves desperately seeking for purpose. We want to find some kind of meaning. We need to know that what’s happening is for a reason. But, all too often, when we look around at our present circumstances and look back to examine the past, we can’t see how anything good can come out of the pain. This is because the purpose behind our pain and suffering is found by looking elsewhere.

Just after the climax of the trilogy The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee discovers that his friend Gandalf was not dead (as he’d supposed) but alive. He cries, “I thought you were dead! But then I thought I was dead myself! Is everything sad going to come untrue?” (J.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King). Christians believe the answer to that question is an unequivocal – “YES!” Everything sad is going to come untrue; there is hope even in the midst of suffering.

This Sunday at Churchcentral we’re going to face up to the whole question of why there is so much pain and suffering in the world. And we’re going to find a perspective that provides deep consolation and strength to face the brutal realities of life on earth.

Categories: Preaching Series Tags:

Cross-Cultural Training: John and Mollie Oldfield

November 23rd, 2010

Following another Churchcentral ‘Cross-Cultural’ training day we caught up with John and Mollie Oldfield, two members of Churchcentral with a vast experience and passion for Internationals to find out what it was all about:

CP: So, what exactly is a Cross-Cultural Training Day?

J&M: It’s a day organised especially for the church (although others are very welcome to join in), to get together and share our cross-cultural experiences, learn from each other and support each other.  The programme is different each time – and sometimes we have someone from outside of Churchcentral to speak. The idea is to give some training and encouragement, as well as a challenge to us all to reach out to the many cultures around us, both at home and abroad.

CP: What kind of things happened this Saturday?

J& M: We were focusing on the international guests we have seen coming to the church, both students and others, as well as looking at the many asylum seekers who live in Birmingham.  Jo Sharman talked from her experience about the work of Restore – a ‘churches together’ group reaching out to asylum seekers in Birmingham and Sam Keong shared about the work of the International Team in Churchcentral.  We then had a really helpful session from Connie and Ellie, who shared very honestly what it was like being a foreigner in Birmingham, and the difficulties they faced.  All together it was a very challenging and helpful time.

CP: What is it that makes you so passionate about Internationals?

J&M: Our passion for Internationals has been with us since the 60′s when God put the desire for Mission in our hearts.  He is the God of the Nations, and one day we shall be with those from every tribe, language, people and nation praising him around his throne – so why not start now!

CP: What is your vision for Internationals at Churchcentral?

J&M: We would love to see our church reflect, in every way, the international city we live in – where barriers are broken down, with everyone playing their part, displaying their cosmopolitan background and adding their rich diversity to the life of the church.

Submission, Authority and Rebellion

November 19th, 2010

Rebellion equals freedom! We didn’t actually say it quite like that, but that’s the premise from which we’ve operated since we were about 12 or 13 years old. It just made sense. The best way to get free is to rebel against the rules, or ignore the rules altogether, because as long as I was keeping rules, I wasn’t really free. And we grow up and that sort of morphs into a more sophisticated version of the same thing.

As adults, we know that rebelling doesn’t equal freedom because we know the prisons are full of people who rebelled and they lost all their freedom! So, we’re too smart for that, but there’s still this insidious distortion that follows us into adulthood. The adult version goes like this: “If I disagree with a rule, I’ll ignore it, I’ll disobey it, I’ll disregard it.” It’s the same distortion. It’s just the adult version. “I’m still going to be free and I’m still going to do what I want to do. But instead of dismissing all authority, I’ll just take it one rule at a time, one law at a time. And if I don’t like the rule, if I think it’s too extreme, if I think it’s irrelevant – one rule at a time I’ll evaluate and if I disagree I’ll just decide to disregard it.”

This is a huge distortion that dominates our society. It impacts us in so many different ways. Come along to Churchcentral this Sunday and see what light the Bible casts on how we should view authority. Is it ever right to break the law? How should I respond if those in authority have got it wrong? What does it look like in my family life, at school, college and work? These are just some of the questions that will get answered.

The Unseen Spiritual World

November 12th, 2010

My favourite task on the Apprentice is always the marketing exercise incorporating the production of a TV advert. This week’s episode certainly didn’t disappoint… but for all the wrong reasons. Both teams were tasked with advertising a new anti-bacterial kitchen cleaning product. What they came up with was truly laughable!

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Now, if I was to transport you back to the late 1800’s you would have laughed at this ad for an altogether different reason. You see, back then, doctors and scientists believed in something called spontaneous generation. The idea behind spontaneous generation was that living organisms could suddenly pop up anywhere from non-living organisms. So there wasn’t any investigation to determine how diseases were related or how they were transmitted. It was just assumed that a non-living organism could suddenly produce some sort of living organism that would turn into a disease.

But then Louis Pasteur came along and put forward what became known as The Germ Theory of Disease – the idea that invisible micro-organisms impact the seen world. At the time, many people in the medical and scientific community thought it was crazy. However, nowadays, that’s not a theory. It’s an assumption. We all believe in germs. Everybody believes there’s an invisible world that impacts our visible world. That’s why all of us have a lot of cleaning products in our homes!

Now, we all know that. None of us disputes that. The rub comes in that the Bible says there’s another invisible world. There’s another invisible world that doesn’t simply impact us physically, but it impacts us relationally. It impacts our thinking. It impacts our worldviews. It impacts our attitudes. It impacts our attitudes towards morality and purity, our finances, our relationships, our marriages, how we date, how we do business, how we interact.

As we launch our new ‘Distorted’ series this Sunday, I want to put the unseen spiritual world under the microscope and expose its destructive influence. I believe that these findings are potentially even more life changing than those of Louis Pasteur two centuries ago!

Categories: Preaching Series Tags:

Students: The Loft

November 9th, 2010

What is the Loft? Is it a large empty space used for storing old and disregarded household items, or maybe funky coverted apartment unit? Then again, is it a reference to the upper room where Jesus and the disciples shared the Passover meal?

If you are a student then The Loft is an exciting new project that has been set up to encourage, build up and equip Churchcentral students. Running every other Sunday in the Beorma Bar on Birmingham University campus the vision behind the Loft is that of student workers Steve and Danielle Wheeler and it is their passion and heart for students that has really driven this project forwards.

Since its launch at the beginning of term, the Loft has seen a healthy mix of both current Churchcentral students and newly arrived freshers socialising, relaxing and learning more about God together. The first week was kicked off by Jonathan who brought a powerful message that was both relevant, encouraging and clearly speaking to many that were present. Since then as a group of students we have enjoyed in depth Bible studies, powerful times of worship and have really experienced God pouring his blessings upon us.

Most recently the Loft enjoyed a visit from internationally renowned DJ Moyma for an evening of good music, good company and good fun. This was a brilliant chance for students to, relax and get to know one another whilst doing their best to impress on the dance floor!

By providing a safe environment in which students are able to practice and explore their spiritual gifts, the Loft seeks to help prepare and equip students to survive university life as a Christian, helping them to reach out and to share the gospel with their friends. Come along at 6:30pm next Sunday and check it out for yourself.

Categories: Events Tags:


November 5th, 2010

The most dangerous lies are the ones we never notice. Common but deadly deceptions impact us every day. They can distort our thinking in ways we’d never expect and leave us with a life we never imagined. Our ability to recognise them can spell the difference between happiness and the loss of all we hold dear.

In the new five week series, starting on the 14th November, I’m going to expose five common ways God’s truth gets distorted. Each one has the potential to destroy our relationships, cloud our decisions, and twist our perception of him. Each week we’ll tackle a hot issue – things like sex, suffering, authority and sin – and look at how they often get distorted in our lives and culture. And, more importantly, we’ll see how we can recognise and overcome these distortions.

To launch the series I’m going to highlight the root cause of the deception in the world. The Bible says that there is more to this world than we can see. Beyond all that we are able to measure and understand is a spiritual world. It’s a world that we can neither see nor touch, yet we feel its impact every day. It impacts us relationally. It impacts our thinking. It impacts our worldviews. It impacts our attitudes toward morality and purity, our finances, our marriages, how we date, how we do business, how we interact. It’s an invisible world and it’s all around us and impacts everything we do.

The truth is, there are evil forces at play who are very happy for us to ignore their existence. If we are to overcome the distorted view of life which they propagate, we desperately need to wake up to the reality of the unseen spiritual world.

Categories: Preaching Series Tags: , , ,