UP – Us and God

The church is shaped and organised around the three key relationships we have as followers of Jesus. There’s UP – our relationship with God, IN – our relationship with one another in God’s family, the Church, and OUT – our relationship within the wider community in which we serve and where we witness to God’s love in Jesus Christ.

This page gives a little information on some key aspects of how we help one another in our UP relationship with God.

Teaching
The first responsibility of disciples is to seek to ‘hear’ God. This is because, if God is our creator and seeks to communicate with us, our primary aim should be to listen. Moses, the great leader of the people of Israel, told them: ‘Hear! O Israel…’ But this hearing isn’t an audible voice except on the rarest of occasions. So Christians have always aimed to ‘discern what is the will of God – what is good and acceptable and perfect’, as Paul once wrote to Christians in Rome. So how does God communicate? God speaks’ in our everyday lives – you can read about this in the Kairos: kingdom lessons in daily life leaflet. But crucially God also ‘speaks’ through the record of his dealings with God’s people – the Bible. So we regularly gather as a whole church community to learn to grow as healthy human being with teaching a regular part of Sunday morning services. You can look at our current teaching series as well as listen to recent teaching on our podcasts. There’s also material for teaching and personal reflection along with group material available on Soul Food. But it’s no good listening unless we do something about it. So there are two ways you can work with others to apply teaching into your own life. There are Life Groups of a few, close and trusted friends with whom you share and learn to become accountable as a follower of Jesus Christ. And there are Home Groups which are larger and will normally have a teaching element as part of their gatherings.

Retreat
Contemplation in the midst of action is a central value and practice of the church. We recognise most people are called and have to be involved in the thick of life. Jesus lived in this way. But he also recognised the need to give himself space where it was just him and God – the one he called ‘Father’. And he encouraged his followers to find such space for themselves. On one occasion when they had been in the thick of it, he said, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ We can also experience this when we give God time by being alone with him. God does creative things in those times. So there are ‘retreats’, where people go away to a retreat centre where they can rest and receive guidance to seek God. And there are ‘quiet days’ that help us take a few hours to become still and re-centre ourselves.
We occasionally run retreats so it is always good to check here to see if there is one running. In the meantime please check out the many other retreats available by internet searching ‘Christian Retreats‘.

Worship
Christians always make worship a central and regular habit and this is true of our church. Why? Some may ask, ‘Why does God ask us to worship God?’ It seems a rather strange request. It is as if God has an ego problem! But notice what people do who enjoy something. Our natural instinct is to express their appreciation of what they have experienced to others. ‘Isn’t that a beautiful view?’ ‘I love that wine!’ ‘Did you see that film? – It was amazing!’ ‘I love that music.’ ‘What a beauty!’ What a hunk!’ In other words when you appreciate or enjoy something or someone, it overflows into appreciation as you celebrate it. If we can do this with everyday things, how much more of the One who lies behind everything?! This is the source of our worship of God. It is as one famous writer said, C. S. Lewis, ‘inner health made audible.’ So our main gathering each week includes celebrating God and life’s experiences in song. We use worship material from previous generations but mostly contemporary songs. It may be you have a skill of singing or playing an instrument, and you want to know more about joining those who serve and lead us in worship. Please get in touch with us. Contact us.

Prayer
This is another ‘religious’ thing Christians do. And sometimes you may wonder why God needs to be told or asked to do things God already knows about! But prayer isn’t primarily about telling God information, let alone trying to manipulate God to do something! Prayer is learning to become conscious that our lives are lived in God’s loving and pervasive presence – ‘God in all things’. This is beautifully captured in words of blessing spoken over the ancient people of Israel which we still use today:
The Lord bless you and keep you,
the Lord make his face to shine and be gracious to you,
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you
and give you his peace.
And such praying and blessing makes a difference in the way we live and relate. Or it’s about holding others within God’s life-giving presence, and as we do this we recognise the deep and mysterious way in which all of life is inter-connected. And as we live prayerfully it releases God’s life-giving blessing and power for others and in ourselves. So we encourage personal prayer and prayer with others in our gatherings and personal lives. We hold teaching workshops and prayer gatherings on a regular basis. And we are discovering the place of silent contemplation and imagination which develops a different kind of seeing. There’s a wealth of wisdom from God’s Church throughout the ages that we draw on to develop a prayerful life.

Please look at the material we produced with the challenging nature of daily life by looking at our Shaped for life material.