At the end of every year, I usually get a selection of photos printed off to go in the church’s photo album (one of our ‘archives’ or means of keeping records.) It is always interesting to go through the collection of photos from the previous twelve months and see what the church has been up to!
January started with a month of prayer and fasting and a series of prayer walks every Saturday. The walks around Goldthorpe resulted in photographs being displayed in church and a prayer map being constructed so that we can continue to visualise where the places are for which we are praying. The prayer map was also used to record the topics for prayer throughout the year and prayer requests have been pinned to this throughout the year.
Each month we have prayed for a different topic, including healing, political influence, schools, churches, regeneration and boldness. In our last service of the year on 29th January we will be hearing testimonies of how God has answered prayer throughout the year and recording these answers on the prayer map.
Each month we have also been involved with a family service on the first Sunday evening of the month. Themes this year have been:
1) Spiritual clothing (robes of righteousness and garments of salvation)
2) Never been unloved
3) The Valley of Dry Bones
4) Faith, Hope & Love
5) Cool or Fool?
8) Home & Away
10) Passing on the baton
11) All Things Work Together for Good
12) Time Travel: Jesus, the Lord of Time
We have had a whole range of games and quizzes to test our skills on these themes! The upside down skeletons in March were particular favourites of mine:
Packing suitcases, racing with batons, wordsearches on ice-creams and difficult quizzes on time travel films have all featured in these services which are great fun.
The outreaches of the church continue to flourish, with the children’s work on Monday nights being attended by up to 60 children a night! Not surprisingly, the sound-proofing on the community room has been really appreciated by all the children’s workers as it reduces the shrillness of all those yelling voices. The Parent & Toddler group also continues to flourish and the coffee mornings are steadily busy each week, with market stall holders appreciative of the hot drinks taken to them in this weather! Those who like to keep fit also regularly play badminton on Friday evenings: a good time of fellowship as well as of exercise!
The food distribution work and alliance with the Salvation Army church continues to flourish, though it is sad that there is such a need for this work. The boxes never seem to be empty, testimony of God’s overflowing provision:
We are grateful for Mark and Debbie for all their coordination of this work and to all who give so generously, especially this month with the sponsored half-beard project!
Midweek meetings continue to alternate between Bible studies and prayer meetings. We finished studying the book of James and looked at various topics (including the renewal of our thinking) before starting on our most recent study of 1 John. It is good to dig deeper into God’s Word and to have the opportunity to pray collectively on a regular basis.
Mundane though it may seem, keeping up with refurbishment and repairs continues to take time, thought and effort. The kitchen has been completely refurbished this year and the new boiler and cooker are particularly useful. We are in the process of upgrading the second boiler, having had a new boiler for the Worship Room fitted and re-housed. New blinds in the Community Hall and the kitchen help to keep heating costs down.
Most exciting of all to see – but much less easy to quantify – is the spiritual growth within individual members of the church as they have sought God and taken steps of faith into new ministries and new adventures. Change is around the corner with Mark’s resignation as pastor taking effect from the New Year, but we are confident that the God who does not change will guide us and lead us through all changes and will continue to pour out His Spirit on each one of us, for He is faithful to do all He has promised.