I’m often encouraged by our church’s reach. Even though we’re not a huge group of people, we connect with many people around the world. It was great to hear last week from Janine as she shared with us her recent visit to Simon & Alison and the boys (some of our overseas missionaries) and others living in Japan who were part of our church family here.
Over the next couple of weeks it’d be great to pray for Siobhan and Suzy Porter as they visit missionary friends in India to encourage them.
And I’m looking forward to hearing on Sunday morning from Paul & Esther, who lead our Friends of Friends missional community. They are engaged in local mission with a global reach, as they work with people who have come from many nations to this place. Some of those go back out from here across the globe. It’s great to be part of that picture as we share together in God’s work.
Pastor Lyndon Drake
FFF Christmas events
FFF, one of our outreach ministries, are organising a Christmas feast, Christmas BBQ, Christmas gifts packs and a summer picnic for asylum seekers, refugees and neighbours who do not have family in NZ.
You can help by praying, providing presents for children, or making a donation.
You could also help at the Christmas Feast: the evening of Sat 19th Dec at Level 3. FFF need people to help with decoration, in the kitchen, and being friendly Christians to guests.
Please contact Paul (027 937 8999 or firstname.lastname@example.org) or you can give presents to Jenny at the church office.
Last week Janine Hall from All Nations visited our missionaries Simon and Allison North, while in Japan on other business. I’m amazed at God’s timing. Janine arrived just as the Norths were facing a very challenging time in their ministry there. They were greatly encouraged to have Janine visit them.
Janine also spent time with Ritsu and Yuki whom some of you will remember - our Japanese sisters who gave years of wonderful service here at the Tab before returning to their own country, where they have continued in ministry.
We’re grateful for the way God has connected the Tab with Japan, a country with so few Christians and so great a need to hear the Gospel of Jesus. I encourage you to stop at some point this week and pray for Japan and for those connected with us who are serving God there. God loves the people of Japan!
Pastor Phillip Porter
Next Sunday, 15 November, we’re having a hospitality lunch, where we meet in homes for a meal together. This replaces our usual lunch downstairs after the service. Please see Jenny after the service if you would like to be a host or a guest or feel free to ask people yourself.
The choir will begin practicing Christmas music on Tuesday 10 November 6.30pm-8pm.
A couple of weeks back we welcomed some of the young people from our Mandarin congregation, who were fundraising for their upcoming overseas missions trip. They sent us this lovely letter, which I wanted to share with you:
Pastor Lyndon Drake
We were absolutely blown away by the incredible generosity and hearts to give from our bake sale last Sunday. Each of us on the team were extremely encouraged and we really enjoyed being able to meet more of you and share with you. Thank you to all those who helped us in the set up and preparations. Also thank you so much for your support and willingness to partner with us! Please keep praying for us and for opens hearts in East Asia! We look forward to sharing with you the exciting things God does on this mission trip.
New to Christianity?
Want to know more? Find it hard to read the Bible?
This Sunday, Nov 1, we will begin a 6-7 week course called “Long Story Short”, exploring the main storyline of the Bible. This course is at an introductory level, suitable for anyone new to Christianity or wanting to learn more about the Bible.
The course will run after lunch (1.30-3pm) on Sunday at the church premises. Contact Suresh Jewani or Pastor Phillip if you are interested in joining:
On Sunday, we’re making time and space in the service for you to give thanks for what God is doing here. It is good for us to honour what God has already set in our hearts and done here before we ask him what the future holds. The elders and pastors want to set time aside simply to give thanks.
Like any Christian community, we have many faults. But this Sunday I want us to imitate Paul, who wrote this to the Corinthian church:
"I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus." (1 Cor 1:4)
In preparation for this Sunday, let’s take a moment to ask God to bring to mind something we value about this community: signs of his continued faithfulness, presence, and activity in All Nations and the whole Tabernacle.
And on Sunday, come prepared to tell this to another person, and for some to pray openly and lead us in giving thanks to God.
Pastor Lyndon Drake
This Sunday we have an All Age service, where our children join us for the whole service. We’ll be helped by them as they lead us in prayer, read to us, and share a drama with us. It’s a great opportunity to be a family all together.
Seeing our children reminds me that we are part of a long history, of Christians passing the message on from one generation to the next. When I was back in the UK recently, I was reminded of this in a different way, seeing churches where people have worshipped for 1,000 years—or even longer.
In a few weeks we’ll celebrate a milestone that’s not quite on that scale, but still a marker of God’s faithfulness, as our church reaches its 160th anniversary. We will have some space in the service on Sunday the 11th of October to mark this, and will also have a whole programme of events on Saturday the 28th of November.
I look forward to celebrating God’s faithfulness with you on Sunday and over the next weeks.
Pastor Lyndon Drake
There are two helpful changes to the car park system. First, the Tab Trust have restored the Lower Ground floor exit from the lifts for use on Sundays. This makes it easier to get to the church building from the car park.
Second, anyone who needs to pay for car parking (for example, those who use the car park in normal business hours for non-church parking) can do so at the barrier arm if using a credit card.
Unfortunately, there have also been problems with people from the church misusing the carpark system. This includes, for example, tailgating to get through the barrier without a ticket.
Other issues have arisen from people not following the right procedure. For example, sometimes people validate a ticket twice, which makes it inoperable.
The church’s Management Team have decided that charges will apply in some circumstances. If you need assistance outside business hours, you might need to pay to exit the car park initially. If you were not at fault you can claim the money back by contacting the church office. But if, for example, the problem was a lost or damaged ticket, the church office may not accept the claim.
Where people misuse the car park, the office staff will levy further charges. Examples include using access fobs to give unauthorised access, tailgating or lifting the barrier arm, or damaging the carpark. These charges range from $20 up to the cost of repairs.
Please contact Jenny Hughes (Church Administrator) or Andrey Issabayev (Office Manager) if you have any questions.
I’m sure we’ve all been affected by the images and stories of refugees from Syria. In the midst of the huge outpouring of support for the refugees, and all the social media activism, we as a church need to ask what we can do practically to help.
Craig Vernall, the NZ Baptist National Leader, has written to all the churches in our movement, to ask us, “whether you will sponsor one family to come and live amongst you and be supported by you… You don’t have to know now where they will live or how you can support them, we just need to know if your church is willing to sponsor a family in this way.”
If you feel that you could be part of a group from our church who can commit to offering support to a refugee family, and are in a position to make that commitment for the long-term, please do let me or any of the other church staff know. We’ll feed back to Craig Vernall based on the feedback we get from the church.
Pastor Lyndon Drake
We have received two nominations for the vacant eldership position in All Nations / Ngā Whenua Katoa: Rose Keegan and Christopher Niles. Ahead of Sunday's congregation meeting, which includes an election for the vacant position, I have included below a brief biography of each of the two nominated candidates.
Please pray for both of them, and for the wisdom of God to be displayed through us as we vote.
Alongside the election for this position, we will also be asking for an extension of term for the remaining elders, with all positions being brought to an end a month after the AGM next year.
Church life is driven by our love for our Lord Jesus, love for each other, and our united commitment to the mission God calls us to be part of. For us to be faithful to that mission, we have to be convinced that we are called together by God to reach our city. This is what will take us forward, not organisational issues.
At the same time, we are human beings, and like all people we need to organise ourselves in ways that both honour God and work well in practice. Organisational issues often plague churches and prevent us from carrying out the work God wants us to do. Part of honouring God and our best to him is seeking to organise ourselves so that we can be effective in sharing life with each other and in reaching outside the church, to a city and world that desperately need to encounter and follow Jesus Christ.
Our current challenge
We are currently at a tipping point in our numerical size. Twice this year we have had services with around 200 adults attending, and our community of committed people is considerably larger than 200 adults. This is widely recognised as a barrier for church size. In a church of 130 or so adults, most things can be figured out relationally, because people know each other. As churches approach 200 adults, it becomes impossible to know everyone, and as a result various kinds of friction tend to occur. People often end up feeling disempowered and disenfranchised.
For these reasons among others, many churches get close to 200 adults in size, before a number of people become disaffected and leave, reducing the size of the church back down to a manageable situation, and this cycle can become a pattern.
As an eldership, we want to avoid falling into this pattern, and we are asking God to guide us, through the congregation, to intentionally take a different path and make a deliberate choice.
Two possible first steps
The AN eldership want to put before you as a congregation two options as a first step. This is the decision you’re being asked to prayerfully consider at next Sunday’s meeting.
As an eldership, we are recommending that we take steps towards facilitating numerical growth. There are a number of reasons, some of which are:
A process beyond
We need to have clarity about this first step, and not get ahead of ourselves. But if you as a congregation express a commitment to growing, we will outline a further process of consultation through the congregation. In the last section of this document I’ve put a link to a sermon I preached recently giving an idea of what this could look like.
This is about God & people
The reasons we’re embarking on this process is because we want to honour God and care for each other well. As God is giving us a glimpse of growth in size, we do not want to see people hurt and discouraged, which is the almost inevitable outcome from not working through these issues. We want to go on whichever path God has in store for us together, united in love for God and for each other.
I have recently preached two sermons which give some of our thoughts in these areas.
Growing without giving up being Baptist
Can we be a genuinely Baptist congregation, hearing God’s voice through the congregation, while being numerically larger?
Jeremiah 29: Seek the prosperity of the city
What God is calling us to should shape how we organise ourselves. As an eldership, we believe God has called us to reach our city.
If you want more background to this whole issue, Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, has written an excellent article summarising the best information around church size issues. Please note that he’s writing from a Presbyterian perspective and we’re proposing something quite distinctive and Baptist as a way of working through some of these issues — have a listen to the first sermon above.
In just over a week’s time, on Sunday the 23rd, we’re going to have a congregation meeting.
One of the key decisions the All Nations leaders are bringing to you is around the way we function together.
To many of us, this might seem a bit of an obscure topic. Most churches don’t have to grapple with it, because they never shift from a small church size to a larger church size. Or, like the Tabernacle in the past, the transition happens without consensus, and the church then has a crisis.
After the service on Sunday, please pick up one of the documents at the information table and take some time this week to think and pray about the matters in it, ahead of Sunday week’s meeting.
Pastor Lyndon Drake