The old quip goes: “Before I got married I had six theories about bringing up children. Now I have six children – and no theories.” The point being made is that every child is an individual. A good parent listens, and then considers the right response to that child and their questions. There is no one system or approach.
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.
The idea of belonging to a church - or any other organisation for that matter - is increasingly alien in the world today. Tim Keller tweets: "Everyone says they want community and friendship. But mention accountability or commitment to people, and they run the other way." Krish Kandiah discerns a movement "towards a more eclectic individualistic spirituality.”
Why then does OCC hold to a habit of 'formal church membership'?
Recently I came across this tweet, which could sum up pretty much all that needs saying on this topic: "Church is a Spirit-filled family, not a weekly experience."
Assistant Pastor Sanjay Mahtani often puts it this way: "OCC: Community is our middle name!" And I can sometimes be heard to complain, "We don't go to church, we are the church!"
A couple of weeks ago I was talking to one of the leaders in our sister church Lifehouse (Bicester and Banbury) about the opportunities presented in Bicester as the town undergoes planned growth from 30,000 to 80,000 people, with 18,500 new jobs, by 2031.
We were talking about the sort of church we needed to be to respond to what God was doing in the town. In our conversation one phrase stood out starkly: "A church for those not yet there."
A few years back I was talking to a friend about a particular city in the UK. We both knew undergraduate students in this city, and we were lamenting the lack of churches who were willing to nurture, train and disciple students. While churches in the city were happy for students to serve on rotas, there was a 'glass ceiling' in terms of their development as disciples and as leader.
Hello, I am Jo Male and in September I will be starting as the new OCC apprentice, following in the footsteps of the wonderful Dan and Jonny.
OCC has been a huge part of my life in the four years I have been in Oxford, so I am excited to have the chance to serve the community that has been so important to me throughout my time as a student.
The importance of food in our lives cannot be understated. We all rely on it to survive, at a primal level. It touches nearly every area of our lives: time management, socialising, celebration, anxiety, cultural identity, the list goes on. So it's surprising to me how little thought we seem to put into the food we put into our bodies.
My own journey with food is different from the average reader. So let's have a look back, starting at my childhood.
This list of statements, drawn directly from the New Testament, give a real insight into how God sees us, and how he wants us to see ourselves. Why not take time to chew them over and pray them into your life?
I am accepted
John 1:12 I am God’s child.
John 15:15 As a disciple, I am a friend of Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1 I have been justified.
1 Corinthians 6:17 I am united with the Lord, and I am one with Him in spirit.