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Moving to Three Services

CCM_3_service_Flyer_backHopefully most regular members of Christ Church Mayfair will now be aware that from 2nd February 2014 we are planning to move our current 6.30pm service to 5pm and start a new service at 7pm.  The morning service will remain at 10.15am.  This is a significant step in the life of the church – and not without risk – so I just wanted to take a few moments to explain the thinking behind these moves, and to ask you to pray with us, as we make this transition.

Why we’re making the change

There are really three primary reasons behind this change.

  1. We’re well-placed to reach London with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  We believe it’s both a great blessing and responsibility that the Lord has given us so many resources and placed us in central London.  The growth of his Kingdom is, of course, entirely his work, but we want to be doing all we can to maximize our use of all he has given us.
  2. We don’t want to become too comfortable at CCM.  Now, I’m fully aware that there are many at CCM who are serving wholeheartedly.  So some will think the idea that CCM is ‘comfortable’ right now a bit silly.  But by God's grace, we're at a size now where many might join us and have the perception that there's no real need for them to get involved and serve on a Sunday - all the practical jobs appear to be covered (which, incidentally, they're not!). And we’ve also, happily, reached the stage where the number of people we are blessed with means we can make this stretching move without over-burdening those who are already serving sacrificially.  It’s tempting to see this stage as just the right moment to relax, but we are a family of believers in God's service and so want to see everyone mucking in and doing all they can to build God’s kingdom at CCM.
  3. In all of this, we believe that increasing opportunities for all of us to serve Jesus Christ together will draw us together as a church, strengthening our community.

What will this look like?

We’re still figuring out the precise practicalities, but what we do know is that Sundays will have three services: 10.15am, 5pm and 7pm meaning every single member of the church is needed. We’re hoping and praying that this will be a great benefit and blessing to the whole church family across all three services.

Pray with us

We have a truly great God, who is able to do “immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3), so please join us in committing all of these plans to the Lord.  If you are a regular member of CCM, please do pray about where you can best serve the gospel.

This is an exciting challenge for us as a church! We’re going to need God’s grace and wisdom in our plans and as we pull together as a church. Pray for us to remain united.

We long to see Christ Church Mayfair grow in both breadth (as more of those who don't yet know Christ are reached) and depth (as we mature through these challenges): please ask the Lord for both of these things for his glory.

Pray, finally, that in all of this the Lord would keep us humble, and – whatever comes – that he would enable us to give him all the glory for his work at Christ Church Mayfair, in London, and around the world.

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Christianity, Politics and Courtesy

What a strange few days since the death of Margaret Thatcher.  Much of the debate seems to have veered between hatred and hagiography[1] with a limited amount of comment in between.  This weekend the BBC will have an awkward decision over whether to play Ding dong the witch is dead which has reached no. 1 in the music charts.

Personally, although appalled by the glee with which some people have greeted her death, I feel a little left out by the polarised reaction.  I both admire many of her achievements and feel uncomfortable with some others.  I am also fully aware that there are members of Christ Church within all of the three major parties; there is no party line here!

So, let me make a simple point: the Bible is not a right wing book; nor is it a left wing book.

In her famous speech to the Church of Scotland in 1988 Mrs Thatcher sketched her thoughts on the interface of Christianity and public policy.  She suggested that the Bible does not tell us “exactly what kind of political and social institutions we should have.” As she explained, “On this point, Christians will very often genuinely disagree; though it is a mark of Christian manners that they will do so with courtesy and mutual respect. What is certain, however, is that any set of social and economic arrangements which is not founded on the acceptance of individual responsibility will do nothing but harm.”[2]

Having spent a good deal of time in the book of Proverbs recently, it is obvious that the Bible is intolerant of laziness and would indeed promote individual responsibility.  Look at these “right wing” proverbs:

10:4    Lazy hands make a man poor but diligent hands bring wealth.

28:19  He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty.

 

So, is that a clear endorsement of traditional “right wing” values?  Yes, individuals need to work hard to provide for themselves.  However, alongside that the book of Proverbs will also declare in “left wing” terms:

13:23 A poor man’s field may produce abundant food, but injustice sweeps it away.

14:20 The poor are shunned even by the neighbours, but the rich have many friends.

The writer here is declaring that sometimes you can work hard and yet receive no reward.  To modernize, there may be a few big supermarkets that can drive your prices down so low that you cannot make a profit.  So, while the individual must work hard; sometimes there are structural problems within an economy which need addressing.  Maybe the government of the day needs to regulate.

Proverbs 14:20 makes the simple observation that if you are wealthy then even when you fall on hard times your friends can help you.  I like Iain Duncan Smith and know that he has invested much of the last decade exploring fairer ways of distributing welfare.  However, the reality is that it is easier for him to live off £53.00 per week than for many because he has wealthy in-laws who insulated him from poverty when he was forced onto the dole in the 1980s.

How we treat the vulnerable in society is a genuine mark of our humanity and indeed our attitude to God:

14:31: “He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God”.

Poverty should not exist within the church: members should care for one another.  Yet, within wider society, the question of how to treat the needy with civilised generosity without weakening work incentives is a difficult one.  The Bible would insist that there is no simple right wrong solution or left wing solution.  While there is sin in this world, there will always be poverty –either self-inflicted; a function of a disaster or poverty imposed by others.

So, this side of heaven, let’s be humble; be wary of simple caricatures of left wing or right wing solutions and be courteous to those who disagree with us.


[1] Idealising someone to the point of sainthood.

[2] http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/107246

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Procrastination

Yesterday’s Times reported a new report published that reveals that Britain is a nation of…erm…procrastinators.

75% of adults surveyed admitted that they were addicted to putting things off.  Filing, ironing and washing the car were among the common tasks avoided, but the stand out winner was…cleaning the oven.  Nearly a third of men said that they wished their partner would stop nagging them about household tasks, while 42% of women wished that their partners would be more helpful.  Oh dear.

Rather than work on a sermon (and other obvious procrastination related gags) I thought I would pen some thoughts on putting tasks off.   The Bible is clear that idleness is a sin (2 Thessalonians 3:6ff).  Perhaps some need to hear that bluntly stated.  However, why do we procrastinate?  Some suggestions:  Is it because:

1)     Hard work is…hard?  It is more pleasant to sit and watch TV…to perform tasks that we like than to work hard.  Biblically, Christians are commanded to work hard: “Make it your ambition to…work with your hands so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).  If we have grown accustomed to laziness, we need to be reminded that our evangelism and our fellowship will suffer.

2)     We fool ourselves that we are busy?  We can fool ourselves into thinking we are too busy for cleaning the oven or ringing someone we should or indeed praying.  It is easy to fill our time with good things: some “research” on the internet perhaps; preparing a revision timetable if a student; relaxing so we have enough energy to attack the tasks in hand.  “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9) and so we can begin by being honest in our use of time.

3)     We fear the possibility of failure?  Sometimes we don’t want to give something our best shot in case it fails.  Then what?  It is far more comforting to think, “Well, I didn’t try my best so it doesn’t matter that it didn’t go too well; if I had tried harder then I probably would have succeeded.”  This is self-delusion.  We should not think of ourselves more highly than we ought (Romans 12:3)

4)     We fear the opinions of others?  This is clearly related to #3.  We can be so paralyzed by the what others will think of our essay…project…sermon etc that we delay beginning in the hope that somehow a brilliant piece of work will magically appear.

They may or not be true of you, but what can we do?

1)     Remember God’s power to change you.  Self Control is part of the Fruit of the Spirit that God grows in the life of every believer.  You can change in the area of procrastination as in every area of life.  So pray that God would change you in this area.

2)     Be accountable to others.  Tell someone or those you pray with what precisely you are struggling with and get them to hold you to account.  Practical things such as a timetable with start and finish times; turning off e-mail so that you’re not interrupted; not allowing yourself play time until a certain point in the day / week.  Rules can be helpful servants sometimes.

3)     Repent of procrastination.  Very little change begins without repentance and forgiveness.

4)    Expect to fail.  It’s very liberating to know that we all fall short of the glory of God in many ways (Romans 3:23) but that we can be forgiven.  Acknowledging our failure but trusting in God’s goodness and having another go is inherent in Christian living.  So what if the task we do is not brilliant?

5)     Look up and work for the Lord. Acknowledging that we work for the Lord can make us feel a right sense of shame at idleness and a right sense of pleasure when we use our time well.  It doesn’t justify us of course, but there is a pleasure in obedience.

Matt Fuller
Senior Minister

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