This was my first team trip to Bethel. I hadn't been in the team that visited in September 2022, but had many conversations with those who had been, and so I was expectant! As I've said before, such visits to other churches are really important for those of us that work in pastoral leadership roles - they keep us fresh and learning, and provide space for personal refreshing and encounter with God.
On Sunday 26th March, we had the second of our vision evenings. You can listen to the recording of the evening here.
We started off spending time reflecting on the feedback received from the first vision evening, where we reflected on three areas: our vision of 'Boundless Renewal', our community groups, and becoming a more intercultural church.
Last night we had the first of 2 vision evenings. You can listen to the recording of the evening here.
As widely reported last week (and as mentioned by Sanjay in his talk recently), the UK Government Office for National Statistics (ONS) has just released some more data from the 2021 Census. This release of data, including as it did ethnicity and religion, has been headlined by the media as "England and Wales are now minority Christian countries".
Arriving at Bethel for my first Sunday morning, I was struck by the scale of everything. Having been directed by a series of welcoming stewards to the huge car park, a sizeable building lay before me. As well as housing a worship centre for a thousand committed and enthusiastic worshippers, the building is also home to Bethel's Christian school along with several church offices and spacious training rooms.
A city like Oxford is for many is a stepping stone of education and early career development, with high population turnover. A city church like OCC will reflect this population turnover of the city. But with our 'apostolic vision' for God's world, we see that turnover as an opportunity, not a threat!
When I started full-time employment in Oxfordshire Community Churches in 1995, I was taken on as effectively an Operations Director (although we didn't use that term then). We talked instead about the gift of 'steersman' or 'pilot' - a word with nautical roots that appears in 1 Co 12.28 and is variously translated leadership, administration, guidance and governing.