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Last night I attended a meeting with local churches to hear about Additional Needs and how churches can be inclusive and helpful. So often we have people with additional needs and are not sure what to say, how to react and how to help them grow.

Lynnette Peckett is Additional Needs Co-ordinator at Teddington Baptist Church and she told us a huge percentage of people with additional needs children do not go to church and a shocking 300-400 people who no longer attend church, having been treated unhelpfully. People of all ages have a variety of additional needs and as churches, we need to be welcoming, accommodating and inclusive.

If this is an area in your church which needs more work and research, here are some helpful contacts and resources:

Additional Needs Alliance http://additionalneedsalliance.org.uk/

Energize https://www.energize.uk.net/

Livability https://www.livability.org.uk/

BOOKS

Making Church Accessible by Tony Phelps-Jones

Enabling Church by Gordon Temple

Multi-Sensory Ideas for Worship by Irene Smale

If you have questions you would like ask Lynnette, her email is lynnette@teddingtonbaptist.org.uk

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Bible in 50 words

I came across this recently and thought it was pretty good at summing up the Bible. I wonder which words you would choose? Try it out!

God made, Adam bit, Noah arked, Abraham split

Joseph ruled, Jacob fooled, Bush talked, Moses balked

Pharaoh plagued, People walked, Sea divided, Tablets guided

Promise landed, Saul freaked, David peaked, Prophets warned

Jesus born, God walked, Love talked, Anger crucified, Hope died

Love rose, Spirit flamed, Word spread, God remained.

Anon.

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Try these out in your church!

(A) You have £50 to spend. You have 2 able-bodied workers besides yourself, and another 4 members who are elderly, two of whom have limited mobility.

Plan an outreach activity, either as a one-off event or a weekly meeting, to reach:

  • over 65’s
  • children under 12
  • working couples

(B) You have £150 to spend. You have 4 able-bodied workers besides yourself and another 10 members who are either elderly and disabled or not very willing to be involved.

Plan an outreach activity, either as a one-off event or a weekly meeting to reach:

  • teenagers
  • young families
  • people with learning difficulties

(C) You have £500 to spend. You have 1 able-bodied worker besides yourself and 2 reasonably mobile and active elderly ladies.

Plan an event or activity which will reach out to the community immediately surrounding the church.

 

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Many people look at how many people come to church and judge the ‘success’ on that. But church is not about numbers – it’s about health. Healthy things grow, unhealthy things wither and die.

How do we measure health? Here is one idea.

A TRIANGLE that has 3 equal sides – UP, IN and OUT.

Matt 28:18-20 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. (UP) Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. (OUT) Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. (IN) And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (UP)

UP – relate to God – worship, prayer, reading the Bible, listening, obeying, relying on God John 3 v16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

IN – relate to God’s people in the church – meet, share life, love, support, use gifts & talents, serve, study, eat, laugh together, meet with other churches, joint projects

OUT – relate to the world – reach out, love, talk, serve, be friends, share the good news of Jesus

How many people do you come into contact within a week? Quite a number probably. Who is God calling you to speak to, serve, be a friend to?

HEALTH equals the 3 in balance – The triangle is one with 3 sides – all affect each other

Micah 6:8 The Lord has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you: To act justly (OUT), and to love mercy (IN), and to walk humbly with God (UP)

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On my recent holiday to Cyprus, I was on a beach on a windy day and observed the following:

The Lifeguard – up in the tower, red flag flying yet a teenage girl ventures out into the crashing waves. Another person stands on a slim jetty enjoying the constant spray. One is taking the risk of being sucked under by the back wash and the other thinks she is safe on the flimsy jetty. The lifeguard is sitting in his tower next to the red flag but is concentrating on his mobile phone! He spends much time looking down at the screen, seemingly oblivious to the plight of the risk takers. He eventually looks up and looks a little concerned when the teenage girl brings her small brother into the water.

The Lighthouse – firmly built on a rock, steady for years, the light shines out every day and night protecting the ships from the rocks below. Never moves, never falters, never distracted by a mobile phone. Light seen for miles around.

My reflections:

Man has a purpose in life but is flawed, easily distracted, diverted from the job of warning and saving people. Me too.

God is always there, shining light into our lives, showing us the way, firm and steady through the years, dependable. I have a picture of a lighthouse at night with the caption “Sleep in peace, God is awake”.

Reminded me of Psalm 4 v8 ‘I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone O Lord, make me dwell in safety’. May you know His peace today and commit again to fulfil your purpose of warning people of the dangers of life without a Saviour.

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At a recent conference on prophetic preaching, there were many golden nuggets which I will work on, but a phrase that jumped out was:

“The preparation of the messenger is as crucial as the preparation of the message”

This may sound obvious, but do we practice this? A recent survey found that about 20% of the ministers questioned don’t have a regular pattern of Bible reading, never mind study. The speaker at the conference said he spends roughly 10-12 hours a week preparing his sermon, asking ‘What is it Lord that you want to say to the church this week?’ and delving into the scriptures.

Preaching is imparting truth – we are heralds delivering a message on behalf of someone else (God), so we have to be sure it’s His message and not ours. We not only need a prophetic edge to our preaching, but be teaching in such a way that the hearers understand and it enriches their lives.

In these days of issues, conflicts and tragedy, the church needs to have a voice. We need to be looking at these events in the light of scripture and, as Rev Malcom Duncan says ‘wrestle with scripture until scripture wins.’ The church needs the tools to be able to answer the big questions that are asked of us.

This means we have to know the Bible, listen to God daily and be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

2 Tim 3:16-17 – Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work. AMP

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Hebrews 10 – ‘And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works’

You need three kinds of people in your life, if you are going to thrive and not just survive.
You must have people you sit at the feet of.
You need people who look you in the eye.
And others who sit at your feet.

The writer to the Hebrews is talking about the opportunity that has been made possible for us to enter a real and lasting relationship with the God who made us. He, or She, goes on to assert that it is not possible to live a life full of the presence of God and unswerving in faithfulness unless we live a life that is meaningfully connected.

Not only is this biblical wisdom, it is also experiential truth, at least for me. People make me brave, people breathe courage into me. I am almost embarrassed to articulate just how much bolder and freer I feel when those who God has brought into my life, speak into my life. It is also a sad reality that almost every leader I know who has fallen or dropped out or struggles with unfulfilled potential carries a story of disconnection, dysfunctional community and a lack of real accountability.

You show me a person who is unswerving in their devotion, pursuing the presence of God and making a difference and I will show you someone who is meaningfully connected.

If you want to live right and realise the beauty and potential of the presence of God, find three kinds of people and then be three kinds of people. Look for courage and encourage, be specific in your input and spur one another on. Start today.

Rev. Karl Martin (https://rooted.org.uk/)

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