One of the things we love as a church is the power of the prophetic to bring a sense of clarity and direction.
On Friday, 29th June 2018 at the Relational Mission #ENOUGH prayer event we (Hope Church Sittingbourne) received many postcards (well over 100!!) from across the nations filled with personal encouragements, biblical verses, prayers and prophetic pictures/words.
One word in particular grabbed the hearts and imagination of our embryonic community of Hope.
God wants us to “be more like a barge than a speedboat”.
For those of you that know me well (Gordon) will understand that I am someone that tends to operate more like a speedboat than a barge - I can very quickly get hold of an idea and speed off in that general direction, going from zero to 100mph in seconds, sometimes (maybe often!?!) leaving others behind wondering where that sudden shift of momentum came from.
So to receive a word that encourages me to operate contrary to my default setting, becoming a bit more dependent on those around me and to lean into God, well, it’s quite a powerful word, and probably the sort of word that God would give to a guy wired like me in a season like the one we’ve recently entered into.
But not that this word revolves solely around me, no, far from it! This word was given to us as a community to shape and mould the way we function and relate, and I love that about the prophetic, it has the power, when heard with ears of faith, to bring clarity and direction to a whole people collectively as well as individually.
Of course every picture can be pushed to the n’th degree but the amazing thing about this image was that our family went on a barge holiday in the summer of 2016. We learnt so much about one another and about the journey that this is a picture that we’ve been each able to own quite easily as a family as it speaks directly to all of us through our lived experience.
On-and-off-and-on again - With a barge people can get on-and-off-and-on again - For us as a churchplant we’re to be happy and comfortable with the reality that many people are going to pop along for a season, maybe just once, maybe on and off. They may disappear for a while, then they may reappear. When God speaks a word it is often to bring comfort and confidence so that when things get disheartening you have something to hold onto. We’ve had friends come and friends go, some have stuck, some haven’t, some have been dependable and consistent, others less-so, but when God speaks a word like this one it radically changes your perspective, away from yourselves and onto Him.
Not everyone gets on the barge - With a barge sometimes people just walk along the side having a chat about the next section, but they never get on-board - We’ve made a number of great local friends who we so wish would personally catch the vision of seeing a thriving New Testament church planted in Sittingbourne, give their lives to that vision and come join us, but they’re about other business. It’s a fact that church planting isn’t for everyone! It requires commitment, grit and comes at high personal cost. Without the leading of Gods Holy Spirit I would advise anyone against church planting!!! We’ve loved making new friends who have helped us get our bearings in a strange new land (it’s only 15 miles up the road to be honest!) and the barge picture helps us have a realistic expectation that life on the barge isn’t intended for everyone, and that’s ok!
Everyone gets to play! - On a barge everyone usually gets to have a go at everything - There are no specialists on the barge. There’s no platform. No crowd to try and impress. There are times when different people get to be Captain and steer the boat. Everyone gets off and helps when you approach the locks or when you need to moor up somewhere to sleep or go wandering (either on adventure, to the shops, or the toilet, usually all three!) The spirit of collaboration and everyone getting to play a part is strong on the barge. There isn’t much room for passengers that aren’t prepared to make a cup of tea, play a board game or lend a hand to a shipmate in need of help - On the barge we all pull together in unity!
Enjoy the journey - On a barge there are occasional times when you have to just get your head down and make it to the next checkpoint, but the main aim of the barge is not to zoom from A-to-B (like the speedboat!), but rather to enjoy the journey from A-to-B as much as the final destination itself. There are unexpected wonders and experiences to be encountered if you will only intentionally slow down and embrace the journey of the barge. There are times when you pull over and enjoy a walk all together. There are times when you all get off and go to the pub together. There are times when you all settle down and tell stories or sing songs together - No one gets left behind and you all pull in the same direction, even when youre feeling tired and grumpy and haven’t had much rest - The best atmosphere to have on a barge is one of fun and friendship.
Enjoy one another & enjoy Jesus - The whole point of being on a barge holiday is to enjoy one another’s company, more-so than even the surroundings. You literally live every moment of every day in each other’s pockets. It’s intimate, it’s intense, there’s nowhere to hide and with Jesus in the centre it’s formative and transformational. As a community we’re to make sure we dont default to just thinking of church as an event that we commit to on a Sunday, but that we embrace the 24/7 nature of barge-like discipleship. There is such joy to be had in being part of a covenant community. A people that pledge to live their lives in union and communion with one another in close proximity to the context that Jesus has planted them and in drawing the dots up between their daily lives, experience of faith and the way these two realities intersect to the glory of God.
We’ve only lived with this prophetic word of the barge for a few months but it’s already helped bring a real depth of clarity and direction to Hope Church Sittingbourne that has shaped and formed us in ways that have made us a wider, broader and more authentic New Testament community than if I’d have shot off after my own ideas of how things might or should look with Hope Church Sittingbourne (like a speedboat!).
I cant wait to look back in years to come and see the fruit of our trusting God at His prophetic promises to us as a community as we believe Him towards being more like a barge than a speedboat.
WHAT IS ENOUGH?
ENOUGH is an initiative that will inspire and resource local churches and individuals to increase their desire for God through worship and prayer, and to engage in prayer with vibrant emerging apostolic vision before them, in order to see lives and situations transformed and a broken world healed.
This is achieved through ENOUGH hubs. An ENOUGH hub is a group of churches that gather for a half night of prayer at the same time as all the other hubs around the world. This is typically 3 times a year. Watch this video to get a flavour for what an ENOUGH hub looks like.
WHERE IS ENOUGH?
This ENOUGH we will be gathering at Headcorn Village Hall (TN27 9NR) with our friends from The Vine Maidstone, New Life Church Tunbridge Wells, Cornerstone City Church and Church on the Weald.
More details to follow...
Weds, 21st November 2018
7pm until 10pm @ Ypres Tavern, Sittingbourne (ME10 1AP)
We’re really excited to have our good friend Luke Morrison from Risen Light Church Helsinki with us for a few days in November.
Luke & Alison Morrison have been living in Helsinki giving their all to pioneer the Risen Light Church Helsinki plant since 2015 along with Kevin & Lydia Jones who moved in 2013. Risen Light Church Helsinki is coming into a real season of fruitfulness having gone through ups and downs along their pioneering journey.
We’ll be gathering for An Evening with Luke at the Ypres Tavern on Sittingbourne High Street for a sit down meal and drinks in their private function room. Once we’ve finished our food we’ll have time to hear some of Lukes stories and perspectives on their Helsinki adventure and living life on a mission, in particular highlighting some of the realities of pioneering both when it’s joyous and maybe when it's not so!
We'll be having curry with a choice of two curries (one mild, one hot) served with rice, poppadum and naan bread. The cost is £7.50 per person plus drinks, which must be bought from the bar (you can't bring your own).
Booking is essential beforehand using the link below so we can let the venue know ahead of time how many to cater for.
We’re believing this will be a formative time for us as a church as we further develop relational connections with our pioneering friends in Helsinki. We’re also inviting pioneering minded friends from further afield that may find the evening beneficial.
We’re really excited to announce that as of Sunday, 21st October Hope Church Sittingbourne will be meeting fortnightly at Costa Coffee in The Forum.
We’ll be gathering together from 9:30am in the upstairs area and will likely finish around 11am each week.
Theses Sunday morning gatherings aren’t a public launch, but more of a chance for us to continue to gather together as a group and journey a bit more along the road of exploring what Hope Church Sittingbourne might look like.
We’ll be worshipping Jesus, drinking coffee (and maybe eating cake!), enjoying one another’s company, making new friends and looking at what the Bible has to say about New Testament church life and how that reality converges with ours in present day Sittingbourne.
Everyone and anyone is welcome to come along and join us, but please be aware that this isn’t a typical church service - Rather a group of friends gathering together around Jesus and hearing together what He might be saying to us about the future. Parents in particular please be aware we don’t have any childrens work or activities in place, but kids (and parents!) of all ages are most welcome.
The format of most of the mornings will be conversational in groups on tables with much participation encouraged.
If you would like to come and pay us a visit feel free to pop along one Sunday or contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
For your diary the Sundays we are gathering in Costa Coffee are:
Wednesday, 17th October 2018
8pm until 9:30pm at The Abbey School, Faversham (ME13 8RZ).
Our friends at Faversham Community Church will be hosting an evening of prayer for Swale at The Abbey School.
We'll be joining with FCC and the Sheppey Gospel Plant to seek God together as we pray into each specific context and think beyond the local, discerning the heart of God for collaborative work across historic boundaries and borders.
We will be meeting in Conference Room next to the Dining Room. This is in the block to the west (left) of the flag for the school on the map. Park in front of the school, not at the sports centre. Thank You.