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Do we need another church?

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central

I thought I’d just share a short response to a question I’ve been asked a few times over the past couple of months. Does Belfast really need another church? It’s a fair question and there are lots of ways to respond but here are 3 quick thoughts:

1/ I firmly believe that to reach more people we need to plant more churches. Different expressions of community, worship, teaching and mission will reach different people in different ways in different places. As some churches die, other churches need to be birthed. We are going to need a bunch of renovation in the church in our nation, but we are also going to need a bit of innovation too. They go hand in hand. We need the established and we need the new. We need the traditional and we need the fresh models. And we need to realise we’re all in the same team!

2/ This is not about starting a church out of a place of complaint or in a spirit of disunity. The picture of churches in the New Testament wasn’t about churches growing bigger, but about planting communities of people that spread and multiplied. For whatever reason, we as a church have been growing significantly over the last few years. We have lots of new people coming to join us, some who haven’t been part of church before, others wanting to pitch in with what we’re doing. Somewhere along the line, there has been a realisation that it’s not just about building the church in Carnmoney, but there is an opportunity to be a resource and blessing to a wider mission. Through our growth, we want to give life away. This is about a sense of call from God to the city.

3/ As we look towards wider society I think most people could agree that there is a desperate need for hope. People need hope. It just happens that I’m part of a group of people who believe that true hope isn’t found in a policy or a politician, but a person called Jesus. That’s why we’re joining in with what God is already doing in the city. To join others in declaring a message of hope.

If you would love more info about Carnmoney Central, you can click here.

it never works that way…!!

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The joys of youth work mean that when you ask your young people to take part in something, it usually means that you need to be prepared to do the same. A couple of weeks back I grabbed a few places on a charity abseil at the Obel Tower intending that they would be for the young people. But I suppose it never works that way…!!

Habitat for Humanity are a fantastic charity that I’ve been aware of and seen at work from a distance for many years, but finally I’m delighted to get on board with what they are doing right here in Northern Ireland. Next month I’ll have the chance along with a group of young people to be involved in a building project for disadvantaged people in Belfast and I’m excited about the chance to be practical for those on the margins of our society.

I’m not a huge fan of heights but having abseiled many times before I wasn’t too bothered. But the height of the Obel Tower, Ireland’s highest building, took my breath away a little and I began feeling pretty ill as I stood waiting at the top!! My 3 fellow young people were also pretty freaked out, some conquering fears of heights and all of them abseiling for the first ever time. 300 feet is some way to start!! Slipping ourselves over the edge, seeing Belfast sprawled out before us and allowing our feet to dangle in mid air was an incredible moment. But after a long descent we all managed it!

It was a great way to do a small little bit to raise money for this amazing project. Would love you to join us in it by donating even a small amount to help us reach our target. Struck by the fact that its easy to like a facebook status or photo, but much harder to sacrifice. That’s what I’m being challenged by right now and I suppose today was a small part of that for me.

Here is our JustGiving site over at http://www.justgiving.com/Carnmoney-Youth – 100% of which goes straight to Habitat for Humanity. Thanks in advance for any support and here are some snaps…

 

 

identity

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so all this happened not long after i wrote this blog post. feel like there’s so much i could add on this week’s disgusting events in belfast but i’ll just pick up the theme of identity. this is mainly because one of the arguments i hear so much of against groups of migrant workers entering and settling in our country, is that it threatens our own unique national identity. that their own culture, language and food will undermine our own.

how insecure in our own identity are we to believe or feel threatened by other nationalities living alongside us? is our own culture really diluted by other cultures living among us? or is it actually enhanced, as amidst increased diversity, our own identity and culture is highlighted within this backdrop of difference?

i find it bizarre that as a group called ‘diversity’ wins a national talent contest that our nation continues to feel threatened by difference in our society. i feel so saddened that we still haven’t learned to live alongside others who are different to us in race, in politics, in sexuality, in beliefs, and in values.

now i love belfast. i love northern ireland. but the attacks on the romanian families this week has almost made me ashamed to be from this wee country. we have ceased to become the land that ‘welcomes the stranger’ and become a country that is defined by labels, borders and groupings.

and i guess in the midst of all that, i need to be more secure in my identity. in who i am. and in who God has made me, so that i can cope and live better with people who talk, live and think differently than i am.