I am not sure how many of you know the significance of today? On 12 April 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, making a 108-minute orbital flight in the Russian Vostok 1 spacecraft. Another significant event happened in 1961. On the 31st of May 1961 following a whites only referendum South Africa left the Commonwealth and became a Republic and a new flag was unfurled across the nation.
Some of you may remember these events, others were not yet born. But think of what has happened in the last 50 years. These sorts of events always cause pause to think ahead and dream of what things will be like 50 years hence when most of us here will have moved on. What legacy are we leaving for our children and those who will come after us?
Each year in September and October we do a review of the past year and begin to look and plan for the year ahead. Every five to seven years we need to do that in greater depth and with more rigour not looking back over 50 years but at least trying to take a longer view and asses where we are and where is God leading us even if the detail and specifics are not clear. Twenty Ten was such a year. The process began at our Annual Church Meeting in May where after I had given my report I asked the question, “What is God saying to us as Christ Church?”
A number of things emerged. There was certainly the affirmation that we must keep on with the basics of pastoral care and fellowship, worship and prayer, teaching and growing disciples. But what stood out was the clear call to be generous and gracious in our reaching out and warmly hospitable in welcoming in. We have tried to address both of these in different ways.
We had a sermon series on Generous Living and had opportunity to put it in practice when we made a special gift to the Warehouse who had a major grant withdrawn and were in financial difficulty.
We have seen teams and individuals giving generously of their time and resources to strengthen other churches and ministries.
We are reminding Connect Groups that the vision we have for them we they were launched is to be communities that welcome in but also reach out in some clear and intentional way.
Our Service Teams have been working on growing a more intentional welcome ministry. The fruits of that are seen in practical things like the after 7pm café and the 10am “Into Lunch/Out to Lunch” and the 8am “Into Breakfast/Out to Breakfast” initiatives.
Taking the review and revisioning process further, the pastorate and the staff spent time in August prayerfully asking the question,
“What is the compelling picture of Christ Church in the future that inspires passion?”
There were obviously many details to the picture that emerged, but in broad brush strokes the following statement emerged:
There are three clear thrusts to it.
Followers of Jesus are disciples. We used the phrase rather than the word “disciple” to add a freshness to what we see as central to what we do as a church – namely, grow disciples of Jesus who are themselves growing others as disciples of Jesus.
The word passionately along with love and follow express some sense of the energy and longing and desire that we feel and compels us.
Kingdom-shaped lives speaks of life style –the way we are at home, work, etc.
Our world expresses the fact that we live and have influence in different communities in this City and beyond.
Transform speaks of bringing the wholeness of God’s rule.
That is not the last word on the matter – nor indeed the first – but it took guided us in a process led by David Newby looking at what we do, how we do it, and who does it. We looked at our goals, roles and organisational systems with a desire to “up our game” to better serve God in building his Kingdom and seeing his world transformed.
We are developing clearer processes of decision making, responsibility and accountability and have reorganised the staff into 6 clusters - Worship, Caring, Outreach, Youth, Children and Support Services. We have in the last few days rearranged our staff working spaces and moved desks and telephones so that we work more closely together in shared office space with the desire to enhance our sense of team and collaboration.
I mention now some high lights from each of these areas.
Mat Dennis served as our first 'worship' intern (in addition to youth work) and did a fantastic job of raising up and training new worship leaders and musicians in the Ambassadors ministry.
SongForge, while meeting less frequently, continues to grow song writers, and has produced a new setting of sung liturgy from Tony Westwood and Andre Frieslaar.
The choir and Orchestra led our worship through beautiful music at our seasonal services under the leadership of Richard Haigh, and as part of the combined St John's Parish Choir sang at the Lausanne Conference, and were subsequently invited to do a professional recording for a CD this year.
The Carol service proved so popular that we doubled up having it on the Saturday as well as the Sunday evenings.
CCK worship leaders and musicians continued to serve outside our congregation at other churches including St John’s, St Barnabas, St Luke’s, CHS.
We also broke new ground with the 7pm Breakthrough Worship Service on 22nd August with Michael Cassidy.
Sally has moved into a new role leading this cluster and assisting me with HR and Communications. Pastoral Care and nurturing is expressed in many different activities.
TLC faithfully serves people in practical ways and Charlotte Brown and Alison Borne visit, pray for and express the love of Christ to those in tough places.
We continue to run the Marriage Course and Parenting Course and Small Groups play a key role in giving pastoral support.
The Men’s Ministry continued with monthly breakfasts, the traditional Volmoed weekend and the inception of a few men’s groups.
There were two different women’s weekends as well as a silent retreat at Volmoed.
While intercessory prayer is part of all we do organisationally it falls into this cluster. Hundreds of people have come for Healing Prayer on Tuesday evenings many of whom are from outside our church. Prayer at the Prayer Clinic at Medicross has grown slowly but surely and gives opportunity to pray for and share God’s love for people completely disconnected with no faith and no connection with a church at all. The visits of Annie Hughes in March and Val Mclelland in January provided much valued encouragement and guidance. Beth Tindall and Mike Kunz have taken over leadership of the Healing Ministry. We have done a number of prayer courses this year at other churches, in Noordhoek, Edgemead, Pinelands.
We continue to be involved in prayer ministry and prayer counselling. We have seen a real growth in the link between us and St Luke’s, particularly in the area of prayer and courses and it is our aim to strengthen prayer and ministry at a Parish level in the year ahead.
We started the year with 2 weeks of prayer and fasting – this was a very significant time for many and we learnt anew that all prayer is being ‘in his presence’ always – and that we are to ‘watch and pray.’ John will speak about this later on.
Alpha continues to play a vital part in our life as a church. Two evening courses were run with one coinciding with the Alpha CT invitation. We ran our third course for the deaf with a subsequent fellowship group for the deaf starting. In the third term we ran our first home Alpha course and in the 4th term a home based morning Alpha for seniors. In addition we were invited to give regional training in the Helderberg region and in October. We hope to appoint a part time Evangelism and Alpha Coordinator in Sally Bingham’s place soon.
In addition Jeremy Jobling has spearheaded Prison Alpha involving members of St Luke’s, CHS and other churches outside the Parish. We were involved in four different courses in Pollsmoor among women, men and teenagers, and a new women’s Alpha has started in the Textile Factory in March.
The theme of Christ Church Scattered remains a priority as we seek to equip people for ministry and mission in the market place. Jeremy Clampett has run a number of “What’s your mission?” weekends and the Mentoring programme seeks to get alongside people and equip them for a life of faithful witness to God where he places them.
Our faithful Feeding the Hungry Teams continue their ministry and a new initiative this year has been the outreach to women in prostitution on Main Road in Kenilworth.
Connect Groups, moving into their third year, also fall into Outreach and it is our intention to make these clearly missional in focus while continuing to be places of warm welcome, worship and teaching. There are now 12 Connect Groups developing and growing and beginning to multiply.
Highlights from the past year were the Easter Camp in April and again this April - many young lives touched deeply as God moved in new ways among us.
Engage enjoyed its second year and has seen an exciting culture of prayer and worship grow in the group. Young leaders in worship, prayer and teaching are getting regular opportunities to test and develop these gifts.
The first ever Sweet Home Farm camp saw 40 young people (many non-Ambies regulars) spend two days 'camping' in the Warehouse and serving at Sweet Home Farm. We'll be doing this again in June.
We had our third Orange River trip in September with 35 kids. Highlight was seeing one of the river guides deeply impacted by the four days he spent with us.
Another first was the December hike led by Mat Dennis. Fifteen young people set out into the Outeniqua Mountains and they came back safely and had a wet but exciting adventure.
The Grade 8 camp this year saw 35 new grade 8's get to know the rest of Ambies and have some good encounters with God.
We are in the process of appointing an Assistant Youth Pastor to work alongside Andrew so that we can more effectively expand our outreach into the schools of the community.
Children’s Church has a wonderful team spirit and uses the time and gifts of about 100 involved in Children's ministry at CCK volunteers and connects with over 300 children through the year.
The annual camp is always a highlight in terms of relationship building, spiritual growth in children and excellent teamwork.
Mission training trip to Polokwane in July had encouraging feedback as to how those who attended the training are taking the work forward in their communities and raising the profile of Children's ministry. There has been a request to go back this year to give training on running holiday clubs. Children’s Church also ran a training weekend at Villiersdorp.
Thanks to those involved in the Junior groups for their excellent work , loving dedication and commitment: Jo Vergunst, Brenda Jobling and Bronwyn Greager who stepped into the gap at Stepping Stones, Debbie Cheney and Kathy Scott at the Crèche and Sue Klein and Lucy Sturrock at Noah's Ark.
In our reorganisation process it was clear that a top priority was to put more staff resources into Children and Youth Ministry to grasp the opportunity we have to reach children and teenagers not directly linked to the church. We are in the process of making an appointment in this area aswell.
This cluster covers finance and fabric and keeping our basic infrastructure in good working order.
In addition to all the services, courses and events that make up our church life our Plant and Support Service team enable us to host events like “New Wine”, “Roots and Shoots” and the “From Vision to Action” conference. We are also actively exploring how we can use what skills, technology, and human resources we have to do things at Parish level more collectively and collaboratively.
The campus is in very good repair thanks to our dedicated small maintenance team, a resource we have been able to share with CHS and the Warehouse and we trust others in the future. We have recently upgraded and repaired the swing and climbing frame in the church garden and we have a fully fledged Children’s Care Centre (“Munchkins”) operating from Stepping Stones.
On the IT front we have changed over to a use Church Insight, a web based integrated church management /database /website package. We are indebted to Marc Gammon and Steve Hofmeyr who have assisted us make this transition.
Our current telephone exchange is on its last legs and we are in the process of installing a new VOIP telephone system which will give us substantial savings and greater efficiency.
Financially, 2010 was an outstanding year. Despite lagging for much of the year, when the chips were counted at year end, we exceeded the Revenue budget by just under half a percent. This allowed us to do many things that were not anticipated when the budget was first created, not least of which were additional donations to the Warehouse and greater giving to Missions. We are grateful to Neil Warren and Paul Bradnum and Graham Greathead for their steady hand on the finances. Graham will give a detailed report shortly but I want to record my thanks to you for your faithful and generous giving and to record our thanks to God for his blessings and provision.
For myself as Minister in Charge now moving into my 22nd year at the helm this has been a challenging and demanding process. When David first presented his findings to me in October last year he wisely first asked me how I was with the love of God for me. A good starting place for everything, but I realised something weighty was coming my way. While on the surface everything was going along fine and my positive enthusiasm kept things going it could not sustain a growing team and an increasing complex organisational life that included many and various facets and activities. He put it as lovingly as anyone could but it was a groot klap for me and wakeup call that was sorely needed.
My “give them vision and give them rope” approach had got us thus far, but it was not sustainable as we grew and expanded. As David put it, we were lacking in management and things were starting to unravel and would soon fall apart.
Leadership is aligning people behind a vision and encouraging and inspiring them to overcome hurdles and break into a new way of doing things. Management is about orderly predictable results and we needed clearer channels of communication, processes of decision making, systems of review and appraisal, and time and space for reflection and review.
I had to do some very deep soul searching and ask myself whether I had it in me to lead Christ Church through the changes that clearly needed to take place. It was not an easy time at all but at David’s advice I sought out a spiritual director and tried to pay more attention to my inner life and walk with God.
We formed a small process team (Jeremy, Sally, John and myself) and with input from David and in constant reporting to the Wardens who have been a wonderful source of honest feedback encouragement and wise counsel, we have guided the process thus far. I am particularly grateful to God for the gift that Sally has been to me in this process. She has given herself to this new role on the staff team and we would not have got to be where we are without her. But every single person on the team deserves special mention and thanks. Change is never easy and the grace and willingness to explore and work with the new has inspired and encouraged me to do the same.
So while we are always a work in progress I am pleased to report that our major 50,000 kms service is almost complete – new parts have been ordered and are on their way and we hope will soon be installed, and the Good Ship Christ Church is in good repair, has a dedicated and gifted crew is in place to guide us as we respond to the Great Commission to “Go and make disciples”.
I want to add as an addendum to my report as it were for your information, that on the Parish front david Newby has been contracted to lead a process of seeking the way ahead for the Parish of St John’s Wynberg of which we are part. He is currently meeting with key role players from each of the churches and guiding us to a way in which we can better cooperatively leverage the resources and richness of the Parish to work for the Kingdom of God.
This has been something on many people’s hearts and minds and on the agenda of many a parish meeting over the years but, with others, I sense we are in a particular place of favour right now and we need to grasp the opportunity and move boldly into the future. David will be reporting to Parish Council in a few weeks time and this will be taken up at the Parish Vestry Meeting on 31 May.
So we are heading into a new chapter with exciting opportunities and challenges that need to be grasped, I come back time and again to the image that is before us every Sunday as we gather to worship – the picture of the small boy with two small fish and five loaves. We can easily be intimidated by the smallness of what we have in our hands and the vastness of the needs around us. But we humbly surrender take what we have and place it in the Lord’s hands and watch and wait to see what he does.
12th April 2011
The SA Church Leaders Indaba
SACL Indaba 22-24 Jan 2013 (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Sermon Preached at the Consecration of Margaret Vertue Ezek 3:4-11, Psa 23, Acts 4:8-13, Matt 16:13-
19th January 2013 - Stellenbosch (Author: Duncan Mclea)
I believe in the resurrection of the body
Easter Sermon at Christ Church looking at the last line of the Creed - I believe in the resurrection of the body and the life of the world to come. (Author: Duncan Mclea)
'A year of God's faithfulness'
Duncan's annual report to the Christ Church Annual Meeting and to Parish Vestry (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Andrew Murray - a life God used
Talk given at New Wine on 25th February 2012 (Author: Duncan Mclea)
What does the Bible say about women being in leadership in the church?
A reply to an email from my daughter asking about why women don't keep silent in church. (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Reflections on the two weeks of prayer and fasting
Duncan's Diary 10th Feb 2012 (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Two weeks of prayer and fasting
No to respectability and yes to courageous authenticity. Various extracts taken from the two weeks of prayer and fasting. (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Sunday Services - Half Time Team Talk
If being missional is our organizing principle what will Sunday services look like? (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Duncan’s Diary 2011-06-01 “Parish Vestry 2011”
An update on the Parish Vestry Meeting held on 31 May 2011 (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Duncan's Diary Archive
An Archive of Duncan's Blog Articles (Author: Stephen Hofmeyr)
Duncan's Diary 2011-05-14
There is no doubt that the six churches of the Parish, along with the Warehouse, have huge potential to impact the communities and the city of which we are part with the good news of Jesus ... (Author: Duncan Mclea)
“… who are growing maturing disciples”
My sermon preached at Christ Church on 30th January 2011 Phil 37-14 (Author: Duncan Mclea)
List of Duncan's Diary Entries (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Growing maturing disciples ...
My sermon preached at Christ Church on 23rd January 2011. Ephesians 4:11-16, Matthew 28:16-20 (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Worship - the best thing we can do in 2011
On Christmas Day I concluded our sermon series on Revelation. (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Looking ahead to 2011
This is an edited version of what I said at the Christ Church church meeting on 23rd November 2010 (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Running through Wynberg Boys High
DD blog on 11 Nov 2010 (Author: Duncan Mclea)
Some reflections on Lausanne
DD blog on 31 Oct 2010 (Author: Duncan Mclea)