Church Welcomes Students

In my last blog, I asked for good stories to be sent in. I love this one from Southampton.

During the week 21-27th of September, Central Baptist Church, Southampton in partnership with a number of local businesses, the Council and Solent University, is actively welcoming back the returning 98% student population of the Polygon.

For the first time, the church is knocking on the doors that surround their building and offering each student home a welcome bag.

Within it is:

  • a small jar of tea,
  • a small jar of coffee,
  • a packet of biscuits,
  • a pen,
  • a notepad,
  • a key fob,
  • some candles (always short power failures in winter)some sweets,
  • some information about the church and its activities within the community, and
  • a collection of leaflets (Bin & recycling info from the council, the Solent student living guide) and money off vouchers (CO-OP, Rymans, OXFAM bookshop) to help the students settle in.

The church recognizes that this may not be world changing, but are hoping that it will be life changing a first step in making friends rather than remaining strangers.

One of the issues of living in the student village that is the Polygon, is the sheer turnover of people who live here for only 10 months a year.  The students have little time to build relationships beyond their peer group, so the church is hoping this will break down a few barriers and begin to create a wider sense of community.

What’s your story? Share it with us

Collecting stories

I love to hear stories about what God is doing in the smaller churches. However they don’t usually make the headlines or the mainstream Christian magazines.

I would love you to share your stories with me and other blog readers, about what is happening where you are. Let’s encourage each other on our journey keep going.

It’s our job to be faithful, its God’s job to be fruitful.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


The Prayer-filled Life

Modern life is too fast, our children grow up too fast, we are routinely frazzled and fatigued.

We are under time pressure, stress, we multi task to get more done.

BUT, as someone once said ‘ We must ‘ruthlessly eliminate hurry’.

We need:

To slow down




Make space for your relationship with God.

Prayer is conversation, need to be quiet and concentrate to listen.


1. Do you recognise patterns of stress and hurry and distraction in your life?

2. In what ways do you multi task?

3. When do you find solitude and silence?

4. What does prayer look like in your life?

Luke 5 v16 (and many other places) Jesus made time to pray, he had constant interaction with God. Be intimate with Jesus through the day, talk with him about what you are doing together.’

Vital to the Christian Life

Silence and solitude

Worship and study

Practical Ideas

  • Book retreats regularly for deep times but enjoy conversation with God all day.
  • Pray before getting out of bed
  • Lay your diary before God, be prepared for changes to it
  • Use traffic jams, queues, etc as God time, pray instead of stressing
  • Pray while doing chores – ironing, washing up etc
  • Walk slowly – look around, be more aware of creation and people
  • Pray for your family daily
  • Observe and pray – pray when watching the news

Take life a little slower – it makes a difference!

Do send a comment on how this works for you.

Keep running

Yesterday, we had many people contributing to the service at my church, which was so encouraging. I concluded with a short message based on Hebrews12 v1-2.

I asked for help with a demonstration. I asked Rob to run round the church, then to do it again, this time carrying a backpack filled with bricks.

Hebrews 12:1-2

So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.

Run with your head up – look towards the finish line.

1. Fix your eyes on Jesus – know who God is and know who you are in Christ

2. Free your life of mess and distractions – sin – intentionally

3. Focus on YOUR race, on your lane, your calling  and be joyful in it

4. Finish the race – it is a marathon, not a sprint.

The world says be careful, fearful, health and safety, but the Bible says be bold, be fruitful, take risks!

2 Cor 3:17-18

Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more. NLT

Be free and run in your lane, with your head held high as a child of God.

I came across this in the Baptist Times recently. Rev. Andy Goodliff, minister of Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend-on-Sea had put together a list of 20 reasons for going to church. I found it really interesting, things i may not have said and things in a different order to mine, but fascinating.

  1. Because it’s good to ask the big questions.
  2. Because it helps put life in perspective.
  3. Because most of the people are friendly.
  4. Because you know you need help.
  5. Because it’s not the same without you.
  6. Because it’s probably changed since you last went.
  7. Because it tells a story that is endlessly fascinating.
  8. Because it doesn’t underestimate evil and doesn’t overestimate goodness.
  9. Because most weeks you will laugh.
  10. Because as extreme sports go, church-going can be pretty extreme.
  11. Because it’s a place of rest, celebration, healing, forgiveness, new beginnings.
  12. Because it’s a group of people willing to say each other ‘I’ll be there for you.’
  13. Because there’s more to life than a house, a job, a shopping trip, the next holiday.
  14. Because Sunday morning TV is rubbish.
  15. Because its one of the few places people of all ages and backgrounds come together.
  16. Because it’s a community looking for ways to live well and die well.
  17. Because there’s always biscuits afterwards and sometime cake!
  18. Because it gives you something to talk about over Sunday lunch.
  19. Because it cares about other people and seeks to make a difference for good.
  20. Because God is there.

The summer challenge for you /your church, is to write your own list of 20 reasons for going to church. Do let me know what’s on your list!

I think we all agree that most of the news we hear or read is bad news. The good things that are happening in our town, city or country, and there are many, don’t seem to make the headlines. Maybe it just doesn’t sell papers.

However, we really need to hear good news to keep up morale and make us smile.

A few years ago, our church chose a few streets in our parish and distributed a monthly publication called ‘The Good News’ paper (www.goodnews-paper.org.uk).

We delivered it for a few months to each house in those streets, then knocked to ask if they wanted the paper to still be delivered. Most people said yes and how refreshing it was to hear good news for a change. The publication is unashamedly evangelistic in nature and it does the heart good!

Last week I visited a church who had some copies of the paper and they very excitedly showed me the following story.

‘An ISIS fighter who enjoyed slaughtering Christians, has converted to Christianity after Jesus spoke to him in dreams. According to a Christian missionary, the ISIS jihadi dreamed of a man in white who told him ‘You are killing my people.’ He stared feeling really sick and uneasy about what he was doing. The fighter said that just before he killed one Christian, the man said ‘I know you will kill me, but I give you my Bible’ The Christian was killed, but this ISIS fighter actually started reading it. In another dream, Jesus asked him to follow Him and this ISIS man is now asking to become follower of Christ.’

This is the kind of story we need to be hearing. It encourages us to pray.

If you wish to receive a free sample of the paper, go to the website www.goodnews-paper.org.uk or call 0115 923 3424.

Better Together

Part of my job as Small Church Enabler is to get groups of small churches to meet together locally. There is a great need for encouragement among the churches and there is great value in networking. Finding someone who understands our situation is very comforting.

There is scope for swapping ideas and sharing resources, such as musicians, preachers, outside events, youth worker, lunch club, holiday at home etc. There is great strength in doing things together that we cannot do alone.

As churches meet together to worship, the building is full (always good to see!). It is great to worship on a larger scale where news, answers to prayer and requests can be shared. A real celebration. Food is always great at these occasions as fellowship time is where new friendships are made.

Bigger numbers bring opportunities for learning and training together. Many churches feel that they are too small to invite a speaker or facilitator to come, so together makes it possible. It is also good to encourage people to go to national events, such as Spring Harvest, New Wine, Children’s Ministry and Mission Worship.

In London, we distribute a quarterly newsletter across the 108 small Baptist churches to keep them in touch with the Small Church Connexion and each other. It is good to be reminded that someone cares and they are part of a bigger family of God, in London, in the UK and globally.

Does your church meet with other small churches?

How about exploring the possibility?

How about a local newsletter?

Let me know!


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