Monday, May 01, 2006

Sunday Night at Church of Christ the King, Brighton!

Anyone who saw my "Top 50 Churches in the UK" may remember that I placed Church of Christ the King, Brighton at Number 1. Therefore it was with some degree of excitement that Scott and I visited CCK tonight as a special treat as we were in Brighton. I must admit we did offer up a few prayers in the car that Terry Virgo would be preaching and Kate Simmonds just might be leading worship ... but that was just us being bad. It was indeed a powerful time where God was most powerfully manifest.

Our prayers were not answered, and as usual God did much better and more than had He answered. Worship was led by a young guy who I had not seen before but he was outstandingly sensative to the Presence of the Spirit. We only sang four songs; "From the Highest of Heights", "Holy, Holy (All the heavens)", "How Great is our God" and "Here I am to Worship" - but the Spirit's Presence made that time linger for what seemed like ages! Joel Virgo, the senior pastor brought an exortation/prophecy/prayer focusing on the greatness of God and somehow managed to span the whole of time and space from Genesis to the Coming of Christ! The most moving thing was that they were baptising six people that night and it was so moving to hear the testimonies and be reminded of the zeal and passion of "First Love". It was indeed a time to see the power of the Gospel at work and hear how Jesus Christ can set people free - for freedom!

Mike Sandeman brought the sermon and spoke from a parable that is very familiar - that of the men who built houses on foundations of sand and of rock. His text was Matthew 7:24-28. His first point was that: 1. The Storm Will Come. Storms can be anything from illness to redundancies to abuse of any sort. These storms will cause us major pain but they are unfortunately guaranteed. The question is - when the storm comes, will you cope? Will you stand? The ultimate storm of course is death and are we prepared for the fact that we must face a Creator and give an account of what we have done? Will we stand?

2. The Foundation of Sand. Sand was defined as anything that we rely on outside of God. One of the most common foundations is money. Mike quoted the "Money Week" magazine that said that the pensions crisis in the UK is almost second to the crisis of global warming. Pensions are running out - and our generation is going to have to support our parents. Money, it seems, is not quite as stable and secure as we hoped. The sandy foundations could also be relationships, careers, hobbies or sports. These things won't stand!

3. The Foundation of Rock. What does the rock represent? Jesus Christ is the Rock. Adam and Eve blew it because they thought that they knew better than God. Everyone of us has sinned. There are things we have done that we regret. "All have sinned" and no amount of struggling can bridge the gap. But! Where the first Adam failed, the second Adam will succeed. He hates sin - but hates the sinner! His ultimate act of love was His death. Heaven's wrath was released on the spotless Son of God and His physical sufferings (though terrible) were nothing compared to the agony of being made sin for us. A loving God did that to His only Son so that we could be purchased back! When God looks at me, He doesn't see the rubbish of my sand - but His Son! I am no longer culpable for my sin! "It is finished" meant ... it is finished! The deed is done! But it didn't end at the Cross. Death could only hold Him for two days! He is alive! He lives forever - that is why He is the rock on which we can stand firm.

Ministry Time: Mike called people forward for two things - firstly a response to the Gospel. But secondly he shared a very moving picture that God had showed him. It was off a clip of the TV programme "Little Angels" and of a troubled child who just kept saying, "I am rubbish, I am rubbish". He felt that there were many there tonight who felt the pain and agony of rejection from early childhood. (He was in tears as he shared this, which made it even more moving). And God wanted to come to break that! I haven't seen a ministry time that was made so welcoming and safe and warm. Twice two of the elders (Dave Fellingham being one) got up and emphasised how welcome anyone was to come foreward and receive blessing from the Holy Spirit.

Night of Prayer!: The elders spoke about a WHOLE (yes whole) night of prayer this coming Friday that they will be holding as a church. As you will see from the notice, the items for prayer are hugely exciting. And you've guessed it ... we will be going! I have never been to a whole night of prayer where there was such an emphasis on crying out to God for the nation and for the city but also for making room to hear Him speak and Him direct what He wants to do.

The elders spoke about how Jesus of course stayed up for a whole night to speak with His Father, and something in me got tremendously excited (I don't know quite why) at the thought of how we will be praying for revival when the sun rises. I really believe it is going to be a "Now" moment and I pray that we can bring something back to Bristol as to what God is doing. Watch this space!


Luke Wood said...

Sounds amazing!

I went over Easter, and must say that my experience was entirely different. I went in the morning (mistake number one I think). It was baby dedications so we got to two songs, then it was drawn to a halt. Then, the preach was very practical and insightful, but on the subject of how to bring up children. There were good principles to pick up and it was good to be among them, but it really didn't scratch where I was itching! Plus, (and this I think was my most serious issue) there were no ... how can I put it... charismata?! At all. Which is at best odd, and at worst worrying.

Next time I think an evening visit is preferable, as that is when all my CCK friends go too.

I'm so pleased you had such a great time. I think most people in Newfrontiers find it easy to think of CCK as the "sorted" church. Recently I met a student who is studying in Brighton and goes to CCK. After chatting with him a while he said to me "you're the first Newfrontiers person I've met outside of Brighton who hasn't been freakily obsessive about CCK, or had some crazy notion about CCK being 'mother church' in an unhelpful way."

My trip was encouraging because it reaffirmed to me all the good things that are happening outside of Brighton, and helped destroy that sense in my own heart that what happens elsewhere isn't as valid.

Don't get me wrong, I know that I live daily in the good of things that come out of CCK (people, sermons, worship) but it was definitely helpful for me to see behind the profile.

Oddly enough, we have organised a 24 hours of prayer for the students of City Church here in Sheffield on the same night! Let's hope it's a great night for prayer across the country!

We prayed for Jonathan Bell at our prayer meeting last night. You may remember how God healed his back over 2 years ago now.... well, it's back again. Apparently he was dealing with a "manifesting Jezebelic spirit" as Arnold put it, and it just came back. RUBBISH. Satan is an idiot.

Baxter's Boy said...

I am actually really glad that you shared that, because every time I have been it's always been amazing. It's good to know and remember that nowhere's perfect!! ;)

Really important too your point about the lack of charismata. I did notice that - aside from Joel Virgo's contribution there was nothing, whereas in the past I have been there has been quite a bit. It's a reminder that none of us who call ourselves 'charismatic' can take the gifts of the Holy Spirit for granted. He has to be actively pursued daily and sought and longed after if our churches are going to manifest His Presence!! An important point ... you got me thinking now!! ;)

That is AWESOME to know that you will be praying too!! I will be thinking of you and praying that you stay awake!! :D I am so excited. I have only ever done one whole night of prayer at my home church in Dunstable and there was nothing of the gifts of the Spirit. Fantastic intercession - but no stopping and waiting to hear what HE wanted to say in response!! So I am really really eager to see God move.

And again as you said so rightly, to bring it back to where we are. God isn't limited to Brighton!! (Praise God!) Or Sheffield ... ;)

That's bad stuff that Jonathan has got attacked again. He must be bothering Satan. I will be praying!!

Luke Wood said...

Now I feel like a fraud... I won't be praying through the night like you guys! We've each been allocated times to pray so that it will make 24 hours. Although now you've got me thinking... maybe I will commit to longer! See what happens!

Totally agree with you about seeking God for spiritual gifts. For the longest time I was someone who got bored if the gifts weren't operating in a meeting, but had no expectation that I would be used like that. Over time I have been encouraged to "just do it" more, and particularly in experiencing different church settings through going to uni, am now so conscious of the need for everyone present to be passionately seeking for them!

It is interesting though, to think that I would have no expectation at all of being used in a CCK-like environment, where I would (perhaps mistakenly) assume that there is already more than enough of that stuff going on there without my contribution. Wheras, when I'm in an environment where I know there are not many people operating in the gifts of the Spirit, I am far more likely to passionately seek God for what He's saying. In an impoverished environment I'm far more likely to be listening. Perhaps because I can make more of a difference. I dunno!

By the way, I believe Steve Walford is currently the senior leader at CCK. JV is on the team... and the plan may be for him to take that role after a while, but for now I think it's a wait-and-see thing. Exciting though! Especially after Ginny's prophecy about having a younger main leader!

Don said...

Luke, I liked this comment:
"It is interesting though, to think that I would have no expectation at all of being used in a CCK-like environment, where I would (perhaps mistakenly) assume that there is already more than enough of that stuff going on there without my contribution. Wheras, when I'm in an environment where I know there are not many people operating in the gifts of the Spirit, I am far more likely to passionately seek God for what He's saying."

I'm like you -- if I see things already running fine, I don't tend to think I can add anything. Whereas if nothing's happening, I think there *should* be, and believe that I should try to be part of the solution to that problem.

But as both you and Dan stated, I like churches that are openly charismatic to be just that: charismatic! Yet every congregation has its own ebb and flow, within themselves and together in working with the Spirit. I'm sure sometimes the Spirit is very serious and wants people to focus their attention on the teaching. Other times, He knows that people need to be encouraged, or reminded of His power, etc., and He sets off the fireworks.

Then too, there are times when the enemy just wants to disrupt things, and people walk in under a cloud or are worried by something bad in the news -- I'm sure we've all been part of those lead-balloon meetings. In my experience, someone -- the worship leader, a pastor or prophetically gifted person -- usually speaks out and identifies the problem, and worship/prayer can then occur to break off such stuff and allow the Spirit to move freely. Sometimes a meeting's entire progress changes when it's been noticed that the Spirit's presence is being hindered, but is then "set free" to do what He wants.

I think the most important thing is knowing whether the leadership (appointed and lay) are desiring and expecting the Spirit to move in every service, or have themselves become complacent. If the leaders -- and their intercessors! -- are crying out to God for His presence (especially in personal times with God!), He knows He's welcome and eagerly desired by the "gatekeepers." Then one can be pretty confident that what takes place in a given meeting is in keeping with what the Spirit wants to do.

This is off the top of my head; I'm sure there's more to it than this.

Baxter's Boy said...

Yes - I think that has been the classic thing. That we see the CCK's of this world (or the CLC's if you're in America!) as needing no help. Yet Jesus Christ clearly said; "The fields are white unto harvest but the labourers are few". Now it was interesting last night that Steve Walford got up and spoke about the Alpha course growing more than they expected - and he put out an appeal for anyone to come along and lead tables!! That surprised me! Because I thought CCK would never need anyone. That's wrong.

And I wonder - it's just a thought - as to whether it's our mistake to approach the same churches regarding the gifts. Last time we were at CCK, Terry brought a most beautiful tongue that was interpreted by Dave Fellingham and it was awesome! Someone else prophesied and so on. Could it be our mistake that we arrive at these churches to come and "see"? Yet maybe it is God's will that WE are the ones who step up to the mike! I've heard Terry say on numerous occasions how new people have prophesied and it is been the NEW people that have affected him the most.

We need to get off a "television" style church - where we go to watch. And to be truly charismatic as Don says, we go eager and desperate asking God "Have you got something for me to bring to this meeting Lord?".

I am sure that none of the Newfrontiers leaders would mind making way for new gifts from people who haven't brought them before!

I have great faith that God will respond to the cries of His people as Don said. Particularly when you see that the prayer agenda for this all-nighter is to have MORE of the Spirit's Presence in the meetings. That gives me good vibes!!

jul said...

Well, we'll be doing some church visiting ourselves this coming week-end (in Canada) and I won't lie--I'm fully expecting to have an experience! We'll be checking into immigration for Aaron so keep us in your prayers. We'll be at the church we are trying to get back to for the installation of 1 or 2 new elders, and Dave and Rosie Fellingham will be there. I'm very excited to see them again, it's been quite a few years now. Another guy from the U.K. will be there also, but we haven't met him yet (Don somebody...) Maybe I'll have a good story or two when we get back next week. I hope so.

Luke Wood said...

I hope so too! It isn't Don Smith from Eastbourne by any chance is it?!

jul said...

Yes, Don Smith is his name. Do you know him?

Luke Wood said...
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Luke Wood said...

I don't know him personally, but this is what I do know (sorry if you already knew some or all of this!): he planted Kings Church Hastings in the 70s, which he then passed onto a young man called John Groves when he moved to plant Kings Church Eastbourne. Both of them are growing churches, with particularly good work among the kids of their communities. And both of them were some of the very first Newfrontiers churches to get started.

The only link with me is that a few years ago John Groves left Hastings to become the main leader of my church at home (Winchester Family Church) and I've got to know him since then. Because of their relationship, Don has come to preach a few times.

He's very straight-down-the-line, no-nonsense! If you're an idiot, he'll tell you! Hope you have a great time!

Baxter's Boy said...
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Baxter's Boy said...

Don Smith is amazing!! I have only heard him a couple of times but he is one of the Newfrontiers originals I think. Here's his home church website if you fanc having a read:

jul said...

Thanks! I'm really looking forward to meeting him. If he's really as honest as Luke says, I'll probably love him. He'll probably tell me I'm an idiot haha that would be great.