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December Prayer Newsletter

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Thank you for your faithful support of the Antioch plants and planters through prayer.

Please make use of these items for prayer throughout December december-prayer-newsletter

Don’t forget, you can sign up to receive these as daily prayer points here or subscribe to our PrayerMate feed here.

October Prayer Newsletter

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And now October is upon us! Please be praying for our planters this month, that they’d be encouraged by seeing fruit from their hard work during September, and that the newcomers and visitors they have seen would soon become an integral part of their church families.

Here are some more ways to be praying, as requested by the planters themselves…october-prayer-newsletter

The first term of the final year

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Chalkboard

We’re back up and running. After a summer off spent lazing by the pool, reading the latest Grisham and enjoying the best of European cuisine (just me then) our planters once again have their feet well and truly under the desk. Or more likely out on the streets; knocking on the doors. Each of them has entered the final year of their three years of Antioch pump priming funding. And so we’re at the business end of trying to establish church plants.

As usual we want to encourage and equip them in their entrepreneurial task with the material that we cover in the Antioch Planters’ Workshop. And so as well as the attractive sprinkling of occasional outside speakers, we’re looking to get our teeth into two meaty and necessary subjects. The first and most important is the book of Acts. We’ll probably only get to the end of the first section this term (Acts 1:1-6.7). But there’s more than enough to stimulate discussion, stir our hearts and grow our confidence that the risen Lord Jesus will continue to use his disciples to take his gospel to the ends of the world. Our ambition is to complete the book by the end of the year. You can’t really be a church planter and not have spent some time in the book which records the spread of the gospel, the conversion of individuals and the establishment of churches throughout the known world, can you? The second issue is that of church growth. And to help us interact with this we’ve got a guided reading course through Ray Evans’ recent book ‘Ready, Steady, Grow’. If Acts comforts us then it may be that Evans’ book challenges us. But that’s no bad thing.

Of the occasional speakers it’ll be a joy to welcome Reuben Hunter from Trinity West. Reuben partnered with Acts 29 to launch a church in West London in 2011 and so he’ll be able to tell us what it’s been like in the first five years. Andrew Nicholls from Biblical Counselling UK is giving us two sessions on subjects that seemed pressing; anxiety and failure. And Richard Coekin, the Director of Co-Mission will come to join us for a session on understanding planting networks, gospel partnerships and denominations.

Please pray for us; for the usefulness of the workshop, for the planters to have confidence in God’s word declared in the power of God’s spirit to grow God’s church and pray for the growth of the early church to be replicated in London.

September Prayer Newsletter

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To all our prayer supporters, on behalf of all the Antioch Planters, may we take this opportunity to thank you for your faithfulness and persistence in prayer over the past two years. We have seen so much evidence of God’s grace in hearing our prayers for the growth of His church and the salvation of souls in our city.

Let’s continue in prayer for the year ahead! Here are some pointers to aid your prayers for the coming month… September Prayer Newsletter

Yours in Christ,
The Antioch Team

P.S. Don’t forget, you can sign up to get these sent as daily prayer points to your inbox, or see them on your PrayerMate feed.

 

Church Planting and the Tour de France

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Leading the pack

I don’t imagine you’ve ever heard of Wout Poels, Vasil Kiryienka, Mikel Lande, Mikel Nieve and Sergio Henao. You might possibly have heard of Ian Stannard, Luke Rowe and Geraint Thomas. But I’m certain you’ll have heard of Chris Froome.

He’s the one that everyone gets to hear about because he’s just won his third Tour de France. He was hugely impressive. He’s a very gifted bike rider in peak physical condition who outperformed all of his rivals and therefore a deserved winner. But, as he repeatedly said in post stage interviews, he would not have won the coveted Yellow Jersey without the support and sacrifice of his Sky Team colleagues. And he’s absolutely right.

But it’s not immediately obvious to the outsider that that’s the case. To all intents and purposes, cycling looks like an individual sport. After all, it’s a bunch of people on their own bike racing for victory. But few of us realise just how much of a team game it is. I didn’t. Not until I started getting into cycling.

It’s not that dissimilar to church planting. The planter is the one that everyone hears about. And we (that is the Antioch Plan) must share the blame for that. It’s invariably the planter’s picture that we feature in the promotional material and it’s them that we talk and blog about. And it dawned on me during the Tour de France that we probably don’t make enough of the team that God has gathered around the planter. And that’s not great.

I know that not everyone wants their name up in lights. So you’ll be pleased to know that we’re not proposing that. But, in case you hadn’t realised it yet, behind the church planter there are a host of people who make these new church plants happen. And the planters would be the first to admit it. After all, if the planter tries to do everything on his own that’s the way to burnout. They know they need others and not simply to fill up the empty seats. They know they need people to do the work of ministry through which God typically grows churches. And so this is a post in which we want to acknowledge and applaud the gospel inspired efforts of the launch teams that God has gathered and given to our Antioch Plants. Praise the Lord for all that they’ve been able to do so far. And may He enable them to keep on keeping on to the glory of His Son.

August Prayer Newsletter

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Antioch prayers

Summer is upon us!

September is an important month for all churches, maybe even more so for small church plants. Let’s keep the planters in our prayers as they take time over summer to prepare for the new term ahead.

Prayer Newsletter August

An Antioch Summer

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Book and grass

The Antioch Workshop has gone on holiday for the summer.

And hopefully, so have the Antioch Planters. Probably not for the entire six weeks or so. That would be excessive. Though it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they felt like it. It’s been a tough of year for many of them. Ministry is never easy. God doesn’thide from us the reality for many of those that serve the cause of the gospel. Invariably it involves hardship, suffering and occasionally persecution. Most of the time, it’s just difficult. Don’t get me wrong. It’s the best job in the world. And they wouldn’t want to do anything else. But at the end of a trying year, everyone feels like a rest.

But how are they planning to spend the summer? I’ve tried to encourage them all to take some time off. And I’ve tried to encourage those that are single not to spend their entire time speaking on Oak Hall holidays in exotic locations throughout Europe, which sounds like a rest. But isn’t!

Here’s the outline of what we advised atour final session together:

1. Rehearse the Year – proactively plan the church programme in advance. This one’s not entirely fair. They’re all looking forward to a break and I’m saying you can’t rest until next year is sorted. But if they don’t, then September will be hectic!

2. Restore your Relationships – spend quality time with those that matter to you. For some of them that’s their kids and their wives. For others it’s a chance to catch up with their wider family and friends. But ministry often involves not having free weekends. And the summer presents a great opportunity to play ‘catch up’.

3. Replenish your Soul – read something that’ll help you spiritually. There are so many good books out there. I often read a Christian biography. I usually feel like immersing myself a novel. But they’re not good for me. I get so involved in the story that I neglect everyone else around me. But a biography is easy reading (unlike some great works of theology) and it’s good for my soul in a way most novels aren’t!

4. Resource your Ministry – give yourself to an area that needs strengthening. We all have weaknesses. For some that’s not knowing what to advise in a personal care situation. For others it’s not knowing how to deal with administration or organisation. For others it’s a doctrinal gap. I’m looking forward to reading some recent works to equip me to better explain the doctrine of scripture.

5. Rest your Body – take some time out to eat, sleep and play. I’m off to France to cycle as much of the Loire that our family can cope with! Others are off on an Oak Hall holiday thereby showing what influence I really have!

Pray for our Antioch Planters. They’re two thirds of their way through a three year plan. Next year is a big year. Pray that the Lord will build on their gospel ministry planting and watering. But pray that these agricultural workers will get the rest, recuperation and replenishment that they need.

Kew Baptist- a special church family

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Last Sunday morning I went to Kew Baptist. I’ll be honest, the preaching was distinctly average.

But that may have had something to do with the fact that Jonathan had invited me over as a guest speaker. He was getting a very well deserved break. I stumbled my way through John 9 and yet people were kind afterwards. It’s also worth saying that my level par ‘performance’ in the pulpit was the only average thing about my time there.

I took my twelve year old daughter along to see what church revitalization looks like in practice. And the congregation were great. She was welcomed and looked after. She stayed in to hear the sermon. And I didn’t have to worry about her afterwards because people kept engaging her in conversation. One of the highlights was this informal interaction over refreshments. This may be a small church family but their community life is wonderfully rich.

The formal gathering was a little different to what I’m used to. But Christ Church Balham meets in a secondary school hall and we’re a bit further down the track of growing a morning congregation than they are. But it was great. Change was good. It shook things up a little for me which meant that I had to engage with what was going on. It was good to share the Lord’s Supper. I loved hearing the church members recite their church covenant beforehand. The one thing that shouts loudly at you at Kew Baptist is integrity. They say what they mean and they mean what they say. The extempore prayer from the ministry trainee was theologically rich, pastorally sensitive and emotionally passionate. We rolled back the years once or twice with some of the singing. Jonathan rightly thinks it’s important to honour the past; not only in terms of continuing to sing the best of historical hymns but also recognising what the ‘old timers’ are familiar with. There’s nothing wrong with that. And there’s plenty that’s right with it. And yet, some of the best contemporary songs were also thrown into the mix as well. Though, knowing Jonathan as I do, they were carefully planned. Nothing here is ‘thrown’ together!

During the gathering, the congregation took the opportunity to publically thank two young women from Dundonald Church in Raynes Park who’d spent the year helping take care of the crèche and kids’ ministry so that young Mums could join the church congregation and hear the word of God taught. They were warmly appreciated and as they were interviewed you could sense their fondness for the congregation and their sadness at saying goodbye. Werner Baumker and his Co-Mission Resources Team are already ‘advertising’ for others to step into the breach and continue to help resource this Antioch Plant.

I came away heartened by this special little church family. Everything is in place; their building has been brilliantly refurbished, they’re beginning to get known in the local area, new people have joined them and there’s clarity about who they are, what they’re doing and how they might do it. They’re all geared up to grow. And it’s with great interest that we’ll watch what the Lord will do at Kew this next year.


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