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Loz’s top tips for London Uni Life

Hello there, and welcome to the Christ Church Mayfair blog.  If you’re reading this post, then it's likely you're gearing up to study in London this year: congratulations!! I had fab times studying here, but some tricky times too. So, as you get ready to make the move, here are a few tips for making it work as you start out…

Be a hunter-gatherer – Food is expensive and taking up a crossbow to hunt pigeons leads to a criminal record. Nevertheless, my body is a temple and my mind is a muscle! Both must be nurtured by food if I’m going to live another day. Identify nearest supermarkets. Identify reduced-to-clear aisles, and ask when reductions occur (I’ve eaten many delicious M&S dinners for under a fiver!). Download the Too Good to Go app to snap up discount restaurant leftovers. Got this all sorted?  Share your gourmet trophies with your new uni friends by hosting a meal. You’ll be a hero. You’re welcome.

Master TfL – Using the TFL Journeyplanner online combined with the Citymapper app makes journeys a breeze. Travelling lots? Save cash with a Student Oyster card, get a 16-25 Railcard and link it with your Oyster card to save even more. Best of all, get on a bike and save loads. Your borough or university might make you eligible for free cycle training. You'll be buzzing around the city in no time.

Make friends for life – After a decade in London as a student/Students’ Union employee/ University Chaplain/Church Student Worker I think this is the most important tip I have:

Seek out and invest in costly, quality Christian friendships in church.

There are loads of wonderful things about life in London but tough times come. Good Christian friends helping me live for Jesus in those moments is something I’ll never forget. Can I welcome you along to our friendly church family? You can visit Christ Church Mayfair on Sundays at 6pm (and stick around for tasty dinner when term starts!)

In the video below you can hear a bit more from a few of our current students at Christ Church Mayfair about their experience of London life and our church family life!

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How to Avoid Turning into the Grinch over Christmas

How to Avoid Turning into the Grinch over Christmas

(or, Keeping Going Spiritually over Christmas)

I hate Christmas. There, I’ve said it. It’s not that I don’t love my family; I totally do. I love catching up with friends, too. I love the cheesy Christmas music, the delicious food and fabulous church services pointing me back to Jesus. Not to mention the presents. It’s so much fun buying and giving presents! Nevertheless. I hate Christmas. Bah. Humbug.

Okay, hate may be a bit too strong. Christmas is probably my least favourite holiday. I should admit that I’m not a big fan of holidays in general. There are two main reasons and one common result.

1. Reason #1: Goodbye Routine – Strip away my work routines and meetings and it’s so easy to go to bed later and later… and get up later and later. And somehow, I just don’t quite get around to opening God’s Word and praying to him. It’s not that I won’t do it. I’ll just do it later. Actually, I may as well leave it for tomorrow morning now… Inexplicably I simultaneously find the time for boxsets, video games and sometimes even the Evening Standard…

2. Reason #2: Goodbye Church Family – I love my church family. I love the encouragement of meeting with and praying with brothers and sisters in Christ. But all too often I fail to arrange to spend time with Christian friends over the holidays. Then when Christmas arrives nearly everyone heads back to their families anyway, so hanging out with friends is almost impossible.

3. Common Result: Goodbye Spiritual Warfare – Sadly, more often than I’d care to admit, this is the result. Good disciplines melt away and old sins rear their ugly head. When I finally return to work, I find myself physically rested but spiritually drained.

 

So what? Well. Join me as I campaign against holidays in general and Christmas holidays in particular… Hmm. Maybe not. The Christian life is described in Ephesians 6:10-20 as one requiring spiritual warfare, and for me this time of year can be an intense struggle… so here’s some suggestions for thriving over Christmas instead of just surviving:

1. Prepare for battle – Fail to prepare. Prepare to fail. Plan. Plan your holidays. Not just where you go, but what you do and who you’re gonna do it with. Plan time with Christian mates. What Christian books or Christian biographies can you read? Can you set aside a few hours for prayer or even a whole day? How about reading through a whole book of the Bible? I read the whole of Isaiah out loud one Christmas (I didn’t realise how long it would take when I started… I eventually finished several days later... I suggest you start with a shorter book of the Bible!) Obviously plan time for enjoying God’s good gift of creation too (boxsets, etc…) You can even plan time when you have nothing planned. Don’t waste your holidays. Plan time for intentional spiritual refreshment. Prepare for battle!

2. Don’t march on an empty stomach – At some point most of us will be feasting on a Christmas roast, yet a number will be spiritually famished. Some will be going back to families who lack our appetite for God’s Word and in-depth Bible teaching, or who don't believe at all. We also may not have access to a local church. Or at least not one with decent preaching. Well, fight to keep feeding yourself from God’s Word. And why don’t you supplement your spiritual diet by downloading some CCM talks or arming yourself with the CCM sermon app. Just don’t march on an empty stomach.

3. Leave no soldier behind – I mentioned this under Prepare for Battle but it’s important enough to warrant its own point. Why not plan to spend some of your holidays with some Christian mates who you can encourage spiritually and who can encourage you spiritually. It’s harder at Christmas but even if you live miles away from Christian mates you can still normally arrange a phone call or a Skype. Which Christian friends can you serve in this way? Who will be going home to non-Christian friends and family? Why don’t you arrange to read the same Christian book or the same book of the Bible and then chat about what you discover? Let’s look out for each other over Christmas and leave no soldier behind.

There is much more that I could say about holidays and about rest, but for me these are some of the most important things I need to hear. When you’re next chatting to a friend at CCM and the conversation turns to Christmas, why not mention those three suggestions: Prepare for battle, don’t march on an empty stomach and leave no soldier behind. I guarantee you’ll have a better Christmas! If you want to keep thinking about this then here’s another article. But for now, let me close by pointing you to this prayer on thanksgiving but applicable to Christmas.

Have a very Merry Christmas and come back rested, fired up and ready to serve!

Rejoice in the Lord always,

Loz

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Welcome to London, Students!

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Hey there! I’m Loz, I’m the student worker here at Christ Church Mayfair (CCM). Thanks so much for stopping by our blog!  For over a decade Student ministry at CCM has been serving students from universities and halls of residence all over London (e.g. Imperial College, Uni of Westminster, LSE, King’s, UCL, Courtauld Institute of Art, Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music and more…).

Every year we’re thrilled to welcome freshers who are up for going deeper with Jesus. I’m praying that we’ll help a new group of students worship God in all of their lives through rich Bible teaching and deep worship. To that end in addition to meeting as a whole church family on Sundays, we’ll also gather on Tuesday nights.

Tuesday night offers students dedicated community time together with space for more worship through singing, hearing God speak in the Bible and the opportunity to pray together. I love it and I reckon you will too. But before you come along pop me an email to say hi. I’d love to invite you over for dinner at my flat so you can connect with some current students in our church family. Please do get in touch, and in the meantime, welcome to London!

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A look back at the Houseparty

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“Not my gumdrop buttons!” cried out our very own Will Smith (seen above) during the hilarious act-out-a-scene-from-a-movie round at the Saturday evening quiz on CCM’s houseparty last week. Having fun like that and seeing each other in different scenarios is just one of the reasons why the house party is so precious for building relationships across the church family. It was so nice to have relaxed time together: whether that was a quiet drink in the bar at the end of the day, mucking around with the kids in the swimming pool, playing touch rugby or chatting over good food in the restaurant.

Houseparty1

And we certainly had lots to chat about: on the Saturday we heard two heart-warming talks from Chris Green on the imperishable hope that is waiting for us in heaven. In a world marked by despair, death and decay and in a society in which we as Christians are increasingly regarded as irrelevant, Chris exhorted us that to the extent we remember this hope, to that extent we will live as courageous Christians. On Sunday Matt Fuller (senior minister at Christ Church Mayfair) challenged us to always be ready to give a reason to our family and friends for the hope that we have - even if that means getting out of our comfort zones. And I had the opportunity to round things off by going through some practical ways to “go fishing” in our everyday conversations with people. Essentially we were thinking: How can we speak in such a way that sparks people’s interest in Jesus?

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Special thanks to all the speakers, admin team, musicians, children’s teachers/minders, apprentices who made the weekend possible.

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Christianity Explored

Stepping into McDonalds doesn’t make you a hamburger. That’s just one of the many deep theological truths that we will be exploring at Christianity Explored! Stepping into a church building doesn’t make you a Christian any more than stepping into a fast food restaurant makes you a Big Mac. Over the next 7 weeks at Christianity Explored we are going to see that Christianity is not about going to church once a week, not about trying to follow an ancient set of rules, not even about trying to be a good person. Christianity is about the life and death of one man: Jesus of Nazareth.

mcdonalds

Who is it for?
Christianity Explored starts tonight and is for anyone. Maybe you’ve just had your first child and you are wondering whether there is more to life than climbing the greasy pole at work. Maybe you’re a student and you just want to get clear in your head about Jesus one way or the other: was he the Son of God, as Christians claim, or was he just a good man whom the institutional church later hijacked for their own agenda? Perhaps you’re someone who heard about Jesus in school assemblies many years ago but have never read the Bible yourself as an adult. Maybe you know someone for whom Christianity Explored would be the perfect place to look into the Christian faith: another mum at the school gate, a colleague you’ve been meaning to go out for a beer with for ages, a friend at the hockey club. It’s not too late to sign up.

What do we do?
There are three elements to a Christianity Explored course (well, four if you include food before hand!).

Talks
Each week we’ll have a talk about a key aspect of the Christian faith:

  • Who Jesus is
  • Why did he come?
  • Why did he die?
  • Why did he rise?
  • What would it mean to follow him?

And at the heart of it all in we have a talk on something called “Grace.” This is often the point when people really start to sit up and listen. Grace means that we can’t earn anything from God. Grace means that Christianity is not about trying to work our way up to God by being good. Grace means that anything we ever get from God we receive as a gift rather than earning it. Grace means that a Christian can say “there is nothing that I can do to make God love me more and nothing I could do to make him love me less.” Grace is a wonderful thing, and is something that sets Christianity apart from all other religions.

Discussion
The second element is a time for discussion. We welcome any question. We won’t judge you, we won’t take offence, we will just try and do our best to answer, from the Bible, to the best of our ability. You may have questions about sex, evolution, suffering, the reliability of the Bible. We believe that Christianity is true in the most robust sense of the word. It can stand being prodded and poked and asked questions of.

Bible study
The third and perhaps most distinctive element of Christianity Explored is that we try and put the bible into people’s hands. Over the course we try and read through all of Mark’s Gospel. Many people have made up their mind about Jesus based on hazy knowledge about him from Sunday school or school assemblies when they were young. We simply want to encourage people to read the bible for themselves and encourage them to ask and answer the question: “Who do you, as an adult, say that Jesus is?”

Details
So please, if you can, come along. There will be nothing weird about it. We won’t be issuing tambourines and sandals at the end, you won’t be forced to stand in a circle and sing kum-ba-yah! In fact no one will be asked to sing or pray out loud. It’s held in a pub, we provide dinner and you're welcome to grab a drink, and it's all very relaxed.

Really hope to see you.
Starts: Tonight, Tuesday 8th October, but you can come along any Tuesday for the next seven weeks (until Nov. 19th)
Where: Rose and Crown Pub, 2 Old Park Land, W1K 1QN
Timings: 7pm for food (no charge), 7.30-9pm for talk and discussion
To let us know you're coming, please email us!

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Our upcoming year in KG: Acts

Your God is donkey! That’s the insult not so subtly implied by this early piece of anti-Christian graffiti. How can you Christians worship a broken, pathetic man who, as he hung on a cross, was manifestly shown to be impotent? How can you worship a man who was publicly exposed to the worst pain and shame conceivable? You’d be a fool to follow him. You’d be a fool to orbit your life around him.

The book of Acts, which we began studying this week at Knowing God, was written to galvanise disciples in the face of such mockery from a world which saw nothing in the cross of Christ apart from defeat and failure. After he rose from the dead Jesus said to his disciples “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

  • Where the watching world saw nothing but shame in the suffering of the cross, the disciples were to proclaim glory.
  • Where the watching world saw nothing but an ignoble death, the disciples were to proclaim the very centre of God’s plan to bring forgiveness to the nations.
  • Where the world imagined a cold body buried in a tomb, the disciples were to proclaim a risen and ascended Lord, who continues his mighty salvation plan from his exalted position at the Father’s side.
  • Where the world saw the failure of yet another political movement, the disciples were to put the world on notice that everyone of us is hurtling towards the day when Jesus will return as judge.

As the disciples spread this message round the Mediterranean in those early years of Christianity they were accused of turning the world “upside down” through their life and preaching. It’s my prayer that as we meet together week by week in our Knowing God groups that in a small way God would work so that those looking on would have evidence to accuse us of the same thing. Wouldn’t it be great if the depth of friendship in our small groups was so radical that non-Christians were forced to ask about where our unity comes from? Wouldn’t it be great if even when we face the snide remarks about how weak and outdated Christianity none of us are intimidated and knocked off course? Wouldn’t it be great if we were so sure of Jesus’, and therefore our own, final vindication that we were able to live a little more this year for eternity, and a little less for the now?

So let’s pray that this is a great year for us as an evening congregation. If you have not already signed up for a Knowing God group e-mail me, let me know if you prefer Wednesday or Thursday, and I can set you up with a group who will be expecting you. Food is available from 7.15 and then the study runs from 7.45 to 9.00. Looking forward to seeing you.

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