Citygate Students and Twenties exists to see radical, faith filled believers equipped to live a life that is drastically counter-culture, but extends immensely powerful love and compassion to the world around them.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

'Tis the Season

Well what a fruitful, busy and bustling last couple of months its been. You can't have helped notice the buzz of new people still trickling into our little community (ok, now quite big at over 200!) but it's amazing to be refreshed by the reality that GOD is moving. 
Let's stop. 
Reflect on what is actually happening: God is calling, and people are coming. It's easy to forget that behind a face there's a different story, sometimes we all look the same, but we're each very different. It can be painful to start to dig a little deeper, and listen. It's usually more painful when we realise that we don't know how to respond - how to even think.  "What's my theology on this?". But there's encouragement to be taken by knowing that in His hands we rest. In His arms we find peace. In His presence all fears will be stilled. All pain will stop.
I was touched by this recent clip, where this guy just begins to talk straight and share how he let his enemy literally die, right in front of him. Now, he's a Jesus follower, and his mind is made up that his Saviour died for him, but he still couldn't risk his own life, that he might want to give it up for another. But the whole point of the clip is that this man is second. Jesus is first.
Now on that occasion he failed to live that, he failed to do the Jesus thing and love (even when it hurt) and he displays the pain of that decision, even to this day. But here's the good news that reminds us of where we're at:

"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person - though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die - but God showed His love for us that whilst we were still sinners, Christ died for us" Rom5v6-8

I take encouragement that I am not the only one to make the wrong decisions, but I don't revel in it. I take hope from the character that is built in me as I face challenges that bring out perseverance. I rejoice when God deepens my heart for Him, stretching me like tough dough. But I don't always enjoy it. And you know what? That's ok. I always think of someone being rescued from being hit by a bus, and me standing at the bus stop, watching in slow motion (it always slows down when the inevitable is about to happen) and I stand, watch, and wonder: what will I do? Do I risk my life to save the good person? I could weigh it up in the millisecond; consider how valuable they are, how loving and generous they are, if they're attractive, and if they make me laugh: if I generally like them.

But you know Jesus did just that. He stood there, watching in slow-mo, then just as it seemed like death had scored again, He ran over and pulled the man out from the path of the bus. But the difference is that person, that's us. And instead of the likeable, funny, charming person, who deserves saving, it's us. And we know us. You see Jesus knew us before He made us, He had us in mind from the start. And He knew how we'd turn out. But we stand in this gap of time where the consequences of Jesus actions to save undeserving people don't fully look like they've lived up to expectations. It isn't always snowy and festive at Christmas, it doesn't always smell like mulled wine and Christmas trees, and sometimes this time of year just really hurts. But appearances can be deceiving. 
Just like you and I don't deserve to be pulled out from under a bus and someone risk dying because of our foolishness in crossing the road, Jesus actually lovingly offered His life to take our place. When He hung on the cross the crowd cheered; His mother and family wept; and the scum said "if your God, then get yourself down you idiot. Rescue yourself"

But thank God He was obedient in that moment and put me first. Thank God that you can have hope because Jesus thought of you, yes you .......... (insert name) in that very moment about 2k years ago. The heat of the day was on Him, the dust in His eyes, blood dried to His face, and still with eyes closed He thought "I am doing this for you". Incredible. To me I don't need presents, a white Christmas and a fine bottle of French wine to make Christmas happen. What I want instead is to actually thank God with a genuine, earth and reality grounded heart. 

Let's take moments to do that this Christmas. Maybe you're going somewhere to see family, or maybe you're staying put and have no special plans. That's ok. It's ok for this not to be the best Christmas yet, if that's how you feel. There's no reason it should be. But a freedom comes when we look behind the masks, welcome the neighbour and love. Its a small expression of the power of God. I encourage you to take up that opportunity because life is short and fleeting, here today, under a bus tomorrow. But the saving grace of God doesn't come wrapped in festive paper, it comes as a flesh and blood human - grace  & love packaged for us to easily unwrap, in a shape we recognise. 

(Don't keep it bottled up)

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


This weekend was a special one in many ways; it was the one of the joyful welcome dinner, as well as a fruitful So Who Am I training day. Both events played part of a crazy couple of days - with Word Plus training, baptisms and membership welcoming. All jammed into 48hours of God loving, heart warming time together in community. It was great!

Adam's baptism on Sunday night was pretty special, marking an incredible decision to follow Christ and die to self. just incredible for us to think that amongst all the chaos that our generation has in it (think London Riots), there is a new generation taking a stand and becoming members of a family who commit and take responsibility for each other. It's just amazing to think that a community in Bournemouth is taking strides to support one another through life, even in midst of busyness and difficulties. I take my hat off to you guys :-)

It's really exciting to think how we can each support one another as well, and that the one-anothering talked about in Romans 14 is for everyone who is part of Gods family. I know at Citygate we like to talk about discipleship and too often we think its about confessing our deepest pains and hurts and making ourselves look bad in front of others. So often we try and do it and prove that we're not screwed up, and think to be loved is to be known fully, but were always going to fail and screw up because we're human. Religion says obey, do good things, then you'll be accepted; but the gospel says you've already been accepted because of what He's done for you, and that's why we obey. With gratitude and love. And that's where the freedom comes from, that's when the trials and worries and stresses fall away and we become free in the light of life, closer to God and being friends with Jesus daily. This song sums it up pretty nicely I feel. If you want be part of a family that commits to on-another, then you'd be welcome to look in on us. Maybe you've been looking in over the last couple of months, so it's good to come to a decision place when you're ready - but I'd encourage anyone to get into the family as soon as you can, otherwise you're just spending time missing out! email me, or any of the team if you want to get more plugged in, we're SO keen to help you get connected better!

And now for the MEN - guys we love you and want to serve you and see you grow and lead and be all that God has powerfully called you to be. I want to say you are called to be men who lead, who serve, who support others, who conquer strongholds, who help people get straight, who stand by friends in a tough place, who look after the vulnerable, who don't quit when it gets hard, who doesn't quite when it hurts, who value the things that matter, who support women, who fight injustice, who care for the poor, who give freely, who love beyond human understanding, who devote themselves to pure lives, to be radical when the tide is going against you, and a man who value's his relationship with Jesus above all others and all things. My question is - is that you? And if it is, are you living up to what you believe? Now I am sick and tired of people telling us men that we need to "step up" but are we guys really helping ourselves? Wouldn't it be daft to struggle through all the messes of life, get to the end of it, and suddenly when we're standing next to Jesus - only then does it suddenly click and we get it. What a waste.
But you and I both know in our heart that we've got something else going on, we know truly that there's another agenda, another war to fight, another personal battle to conquer and another Kingdom to make famous. We sometimes need the challenge set before us, but if we're honest - we know the only way for things to change is if we actually get on the horse. We can be shown to the horse, given the sword and the plan drawn out; but it's actually only US who can summon up the courage to make the decision and get on the horse. Our friends and leaders should help us, but we have that tiny decision to make, but with big consequences. I want to say to all guys reading this that there are fellow guys ready to stand by you in the midst of your storm, but you need to call for help, it's your decision; but I can guarantee that if you choose correctly you won't be let down. Life with Jesus is pretty exciting - scrap that, it should be THE most exciting way to live life; so even if you don't know what you need to do to respond, just respond, somehow, but to the right person. I am well up for standing alongside any guy who wants to do something, but doesn't quite know what or how - so drop me a line if that's you: 

(FYI for the ladies - Alex is the right person to drop a line to: :-)

Well I never thought that I would be talking about Christmas, but actually it's just round the corner -eks! Time to start the present list and decide what to buy friends and family this year, but actually there's more to it than that - Christmas starts this year on Sun 4th Dec at the All Coloured In carol service. It's one of my favourite events of the year, because I know it's always special. There's usually a great buzz, the room smells of cinnamon from the mulled wine and I start to feel all festive. It's pretty special, and I know that it's just the start of the season; so there's a good 6 weeks of Christmasy-ness still to come! Start inviting friends if their the type that need to plan ahead, or wait for the flyers to come out shortly and you'll be asked to stick them through all your neighbours doors.

Enjoy the rest of the week guys & gals, don't forget 5 Smooth Stones on 19th and Cafe29 on 26th Nov. They're going to be great nights!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Aspects of Grace

I can't believe that grace is completely free and can change lives as emphatically and deeply as it has amongst the student and twenties community at Citygate Church. It's a glimpse of glory to see life after life radically and deeply enriched by the presence of The Holy Spirit, doing a deep renewing work amongst His people. Now I am not painting a picture of a bed of roses, and it's not always sunny, it doesn't always feel like things are going right - but when it comes back to looking at the tangible and evident fruit of God - it's clear that something's going on amongst us.

I have recently been encouraged, really excited and inspired by a great book I can recommend called "No Perfect People Allowed" by John Burke. It's about creating a come as you are culture in The Church, welcoming everyone (just as they are) and creating an obvious culture which sees everyone in Church as a work in progress. I have loved the way John talks about community which welcomes the gays, the living-together-unmarried's, the single parent, the drop out, the homeless, the broken and the emotionally needy - making people feel welcome and relaxed (whatever their like, or their past experiences) but not selling out on Biblical Truth. Wouldn't that be incredible?! 

: A place where everyone feels valued (because in reality God values us all equally), everyone knows they may be at different places spiritually, but that that no question is invalid and no person is off limits to the Grace and community of God. What would that look like in Citygate? Where we'd welcome the "special" person, or the person who genuinely believes that God is somewhere out there, but hasn't found Him yet. A place where the emotional wreck could sit down and feel that everyone isn't starring at them, where a house mate could come along and not feel targeted as the newbie - but each and every person loved with a genuine love and care for them, just as they are. No strings attached. 

"'s not always sunny, it doesn't always feel like things are going right - but when it comes back to looking at the tangible and evident fruit of God - it's clear that something's going on amongst us..."

In the book John tells of a close gay couple who came along every Sunday, sat quietly in their seats during the meeting and just took it all in for well over a year. It took a whole year for them to experience, test and see that this was a genuine bunch of loving people who really cared who they were, and that their God was not just as loving - but loved them more. After a year, they made a connection, made a commitment, and God saved them. The point? It's about loving someone no matter what they look like or do, but who they are. Being patient and still more patient when they get it wrong and don't understand, but patiently loving everyone who walks through the door and into our lives. I've come to understand it's not us that changes people, not our well thought out theology, events or intimate times of quality worship - but God and only God by His Holy Spirit who decides the time is right to save someone and change them. Maybe it's strange, but I have found that incredibly liberating. I don't save someone, stop them mucking up, or push them into Gods presence at 5SmoothStones, but God alone can change someone and save someone. Now that's freedom!

Next Saturday we're at a training tract called So Who Am I? - looking at how we identify ourselves and secure ourselves in God. He's called us out to be raised up; these sessions will radically impact our perceptions, and as we welcome God, we expect Him to meet us where we're at. Join the day, it's free and in the evening we'll celebrate all of God's goodness at our annual welcome dinner. Evening tickets on sale this Sunday at £10 incl formal three course dinner (with drinks), for your chance to join in buy them from the students & twenties team.

So Who am I?

Annual Welcome Dinner

No Perfect People Allowed

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Autumn Arrival

It’s that time of year when you realise summer is well and truly over, there’s a long old winter ahead and the town... is buzzing with new student life! Welcome to all the new students, twenties or randomers that find their way to be a part of the wonderful community of Citygate students and twenties – we love living and sharing life together.

So if you’re new, you probably think what an interesting bunch of people – and you’d be right! We come from all walks of life, are at different places in our relationship with God, but each one of us sees the draw of God on their life, and together we live life. I’ve been reading a book called “No perfect people allowed” by John Burke (highly recommend BTW) and it’s been a challenging and exciting read, looking at how to create Church culture that welcomes everyone, but doesn’t become liberal and sell out on biblical truth. 

"That got me thinking – how do we welcome everyone, just as Jesus does; yet not sell out and whitewash sin and poor behaviour? I look at the earthly life of Jesus and see a perfect man – a God-man who was 100% righteous and holy, but who spent his days hanging out with the mess up’s, the down and out’s, the no-hoper’s. How on earth?!"

To the human bit of me it isn’t possible, yet Jesus saw in each person what God saw – a human spirit, created out of love, to be made in the mirror image of its creator, God.  He welcomed everyone no matter their stained past, stained cloths and stained character. He didn’t judge their petty theft, porn habit or lazy attitude – but He didn't say it was right either. Instead He LOVED even when it hurt, really hurt. He shared His holiness with those who didn’t deserve it, and share’s His love with us. That’s incredible grace. Grace is defined in the Collins dictionary as kind, pleasing and indulgent. I love that! Christian’s can have pleasing and indulgent favour from God that doesn't value you on the snapshot of your life right as it is now, but on who you are. Created in God’s image, with God’s hands and breath. How valuable are we for God to actually spend time designing us from the inside out!

I still don’t get this whole grace thing, and I can’t believe God chooses people like me, like us, to be His people and love us warts n’all. He must be God to have patience and forgiveness for me! But it’s incredibly encouraging to think that a community like ours could significantly impact the culture of the entire Church. The wonderful work started (and growing) amongst us could spill over into the whole of the Citygate family, creating an incredibly welcoming and holy culture which reaches out to an entire town. That could see a whole town, university or college completely and radically over-turned by God’s freedom bringing Spirit. It’s happened before elsewhere. How cool would that be?! Dream to picture that scene.

I want to encourage you to ask questions, Citygate is a safe place to enquire. Ask when you feel you’re the only one without the answer (you’re not); find out why; satisfy your desire to be more secure in Christ. There’s an opportunity here to grow closer to God in a meaningful way, and you’re invited to take part. As it happens there’s a special training event on <<29|10|11>> where together we can look at what God say’s to us about who we are, and helped with how we can respond to Him. There’s flyer’s around now, so pick one up and see what it’s all about. So Who Am I?

There’s a gathering of guys on Tuesday next week for a BBQ round my place: looking at the role of guys in the Church. Lad's Meaty BBQ  Only kidding – it’s a social, so bring quality meat (let’s all try now) and some beers and we’ll hang out. That has got me thinking about the role of men in the church though... 

See you at cell/ Sat Film night  /Sunday (last free lunch BTW!)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


Good Morning!

My apologies for the lack of writing that has taken place over the last few months. For me things have been a little hectic, but I'm sure they have with you too. It's been a great summer, full of God's grace even if not full of sunshine and warmth. 

June saw many of our new friends from 2011 leaving us to head back to their homes across the country for summer. We're looking forward to your return in the coming weeks, so please know you've been very missed and we can't wait to have you back.

A great group of us went to Mobilise in Brighton during the second week of July. It was an incredible time of meeting with God, and enjoying fellowship with one another. With talks from some of the great leaders of churches across the world, each of us was challenged and blessed by what we heard. 

If you want to check out some of the things we heard, you can here! I really recommend Tom Shaw's talk, as well as PJ Smyth's from the main Leadership meetings. 

Over the past weeks we've enjoyed picnics and trips to the forest, as well as our usual Sunday nights at the pub. We saw Andy and George married (congrats guys!!) and had a fantastic night watching a DVD called 'Furious Love' which turned into a spontaneous time of worship, praise and prayer.

Some people went to Newday which is Newfrontiers' youth week in Norfolk. It was a week like no other, with the presence of God falling in an incredibly tangible way, confirming that we are children of God and belong to Him, but also that we have a job to do. Check out Stuart Gibbs' message on the poor on the Newday website. 

 And the final big event of the summer was 'Together at Westpoint' which many of us have just returned from. As flood waters rose in Bournemouth, Citygate and the other Newfrontiers churches in the South and West were enjoying glorious sunshine at the Westpoint arena as we camped together. Over the weekend, God spoke to us about scaling walls and pushing into the promises of God and I encourage you to find out about lots of the other exciting things that we saw. A real highlight was seeing an incredible offering taken of £101,000. This money will go towards planting churches and spreading the Gospel. How great is it that as the church we are able to go against the tide and do the complete opposite of the rest of the nation?!! There may be a recession going on but we aren't taking part. 

And so with September around the corner, a new season is ahead. For Citygate, and for me. As a church we're excited about what God has for us. Traditionally this time of year sees many new people looking into church (not just students although we're certainly excited about that!!) so please be praying for one another and our leaders as things kick up a gear again. We want to see many saved and added to our number.

For me, I'm going to be leaving Bournemouth and so for now, this is the last of the blog posts until new FPers take it over and have the joy of sharing the weekly news with you. Keep your eyes peeled and be as encouraging and supportive to Alex Holgate, James Grunnill and Ana Clara Cabral as you were to me. 
There are lots of new members of the Students and Twenties team so look out for those giveaway red hoodies!!

Finally, remember those of us who aren't with us. Pray for those you know. And in particular, remember Charlotte Young who is currently in Kenya, Yolanda Studer who is in Germany, and Josh Martin who is in the USA. (I know there are countless others spread across the UK and abroad so support and remember them too!) Stef Wyper moves to Canada in about 10 days too!

Citygate Students and Twenties are an incredible community, and there are great and mighty things ahead. 
With thanks for your love and support over the past year, and with prayers for many blessings ahead.

It's been a blast.

Much love, 


Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Sunday and Monday

Now, it's not to say that exciting things don't happen on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday's just that Sunday tends to be 'church' all day. And Monday nights are normally fairly signifcant as well.

This week with the weather not being in our favour, we returned to trusty O'Neill's for lunch. Greg Haslam, the leader of Westminster Chapel had been visiting us and peached over both the morning services. A fantastic time with Greg, we were very blessed by his message. Last Sunday was also the second Sunday of the Gift Week for the building project. Certainly a challenge to stir us!

Lunch was a fun affair, with around 60 or so people crammed into O'Neill's. In some ways it was rather foruntate they had no draughts! Certainly meant that there wasn't lots of competition for food. With Citygate not finishing until the afternoon was well under way, it was about 4pm when lunch had finally begun to draw to a close and people headed off to work, revise, and relax for the afternoon.

Seemed as if everyone had a great afternoon, and lots of you were out at the pub in the evening too! ...You can see why I said that Sundays are effectively a whole day of being Church together.

Last night, two of our elders Andrew and Russell visited PPP (I reckon they're just jealous we have so much fun on a Monday night!) and gave us some teaching under the heading of 'Angels and Demons'. It was great to see around 45 of you out and about, ready to listen and engage. I hope the night proved interesting, and has challenged the way you live! If you've still got questions, make sure they don't go ignored.

With such a busy couple of days, and a rather late night last night (oops!) you'll be pleased to hear that the week ahead isn't looking so busy.

Next week all ladies are invited to an evening of films and food in Charminster on Tuesday (check Facebook for event info) and on the Saturday we'll be having an open mic night with BCC over in Winton/Moordown area.

Also make sure that you sign yourself up to LOST in the City and buy your ticket by transferring pennies! Again check Facebook for more info.

If you need us, James and I are the only at the other end of the phone/computer etc.

Happy Tuesday Friends

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Roped Together to Climb a Mountain

Church, when you consider what it is, is in many ways, a strange idea. People from every strata of society, every corner of the earth, and with interests so varied they're almost polar opposites. And yet, that's the Bride of Christ. There's something beautiful about the church, but it requires unity, and love, and a softness of heart, that we would have the grace to get along and run with what God has called us to.

Obviously this is much 'in the headlines' with the Gift Week we are currently in, but I think that the picture of each person roped to another, together climbing a mountain is a very helpful one. We rely on each other, our progress is not about the one, but about the collective. We move together, and climb together.

Students and Twenties are roped together, but we're also roped to the wider church too. And so we should be. It was great to hear of so many attending Why Citygate - get stuck in ASAP! It's vitally important to you, and to the church.

Last night, we gathered together with our friends at Gateway Church in Poole for a prophecy workshop. Pete from Gateway led is in an incredible time of worship, before Rich gave some guidelines and direction for the evening. Gathering in groups we then began to pray and prophecy over each other, for some it was the first time doing anything like this, for others it was a great chance to grow as you didn't know the people you were prophesying over. A really great training evening, which hopefully blessed all that took part, and gave you increased boldness and confidence to move in the prophetic.

Lets keep meeting together, encouraging one another and helping others to climb the mountain with us.

I'm excited to see what's ahead. You should be too!

Vicki x

Monday, 16 May 2011

BBQs and Birthdays

This week saw both Joel turning 18, and me turning 20. Definitely an excuse to have probably our biggest BBQ of the year yet. Out to Mill Lawn, which is rather becoming a bit of a Citygate spot, and with the two big fire pits cooking huge amounts of food, the BBQ was soon well under way.

But let me rewind...the weekend actually began much earlier than at a social. Saturday night was Five Smooth Stones; our big worship evening that we hold every other month. This one was stripped back, and with Tom Bettinson leading worship, the night got off to a good start I understand. Sadly I wasn't there but from what I hear it was a powerful night full of God's grace. Louis Giglio's 'Fruitcake and Icecream' video was watched, and the presence of God was overwhelming.

Saved by grace, and not by what we do? Well we ALL need to be continuously reminded of that fact.

Sunday morning was then the start of our Gift Week. The Citygate Centre, our building project is very much visible over near the Lansdowne Asda and so as we look at financing such a task, God's calling us to sacrifice and to give for His glory. Guy spoke from Romans, continuing our series that began in the New Year, and as we focussed on mountains to climb, there was a wonderful opportunity to respond and get prayer for endurance and grace in trouble and suffering.. The love of God was in the place.

With all of that as a background for the BBQ, it was bound to be a good afternoon. Sprawled across the grass, some wrapped themselves in blankets, others in hoodies... the weather wasn't quite what we were hoping for, but we did have some huge fires to keep us warm. With football, rugby, and then a walk across the forest, it was a great afternoon. Susan and Sarah were rounded up by horses, and possibly chased (has the story become a little more dramatic than we first assumed??) and the guys left by the BBQs fed some of the rather friendly ponies some left over food.

To the pub in the evening to round up another rather wonderful Citygate Sunday.

Tonight, we'll be with our friends over at Gateway Church in Poole for a prophecy workshop. Come along if you want to practice, and to grow, it's definitely going to be a good night!

With much love

Vicki x

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

The Latest

It's been a few weeks since blogging has been in abundance, but that definitely doesn't mean that social events or time with God has been lacking in the same way my writing has been!

The last month has probably been a little quieter, understandable when you realise that much of the rabble returned home for Easter holidays and other such things. You were very missed by the way. 

We got up to much, from our St George's Day BBQ which left James looking like a football hooligan with the amount of face paint he was wearing, to our Easter celebrations, and several trips to the New Forest for lunch. We also spent some time with our friends at Christchurch Family Church playing volleyball, and picnicking down by the Quay. 

With a week of Passion in the lead up to Easter, there was lots of praying going on, and even last week with Conurbation Prayer at Gateway Church over in Poole we were getting on our knees to seek God. Always a good place to be in!

This weekend we had a busy Sunday, with even more new faces. I don't know where you all appear from but boy do we love meeting you, getting to know you and seeing you grow in God. It always gets me excited when people get added to the church - what better place could there be. After a great morning hearing about the Church Building Project and our dreams for the future, we had a yummy BBQ at St Swithuns. 

The sun came out, and the fires were blazing. Meat was cooked and rather quickly eaten, and the afternoon drifted by in a haze of conversation and laughter. Sunday night saw us filling out the Lynton Court in good Citygate style; taking over their two biggest tables and moving half the furniture to ensure we could all sit together.

We had a great night of PPP last night too. Due to the excessive (but wonderful) number of bank holidays recently we've not been able to run PPP so it was good to get back into the swing of things this week. For those of you that don't know, PPP stand for Prayer, Praise and the Prophetic, and that's the vision for Monday nights. All of Citygate Students and Twenties gathering to give glory to God - a fairly good way to start off the week. Monday's used to be boring...not any more! 

So with all of that in the past lets start looking to the future...

This weekend is guna be a busy one. 

Saturday Night is Five Smooth Stones, one of our favourite events. A night of worship, and teaching, we'll be stripping things back this week, keeping it simple, but expecting God to do some big things. 

Sunday is the Girls' Breakfast, Church and a BBQ Lunch as well as Why Citygate in the evening... Check Facebook for info, or I'll just be repeating myself like an irritating parrot.

AND if we start looking with our telescope into the future we have...

LOST in theCity

So, all in all, you've got plenty to look forward to. 

If you are struggling at the moment and could do with some prayer, don't hesitate to contact me or James and let us know. We're here to support you, so do make us aware of things.

Similarly, if you're feeling on the edges of what can sometimes feel like a rather big group of people, let me or James know. We've got a wonderful system to make sure you cease to feel that way. 

All you've got to do is ask!

Now, with the sun shining, I'll leave you to your Tuesday afternoon. See you soon!!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

John Groves, a Picnic and Six Baptisms

With many students away for their Easter holidays, I was half expecting a quiet weekend, but as per usual, Citygate blew my expectations out of the water. 
 John Groves began the morning, speaking from 1 Kings 16 and 17, and calling us to be an Elijah People. A healthy challenge to be a people who are different because they follow Jesus, and are willing to speak truth to our nation.
With fantastic teaching stored in head and more importantly heart, we chatted and mingled around the tea and coffee, before heading to Asda for food, and then out into the New Forest. 

Living in Bournemouth means we're surrounded by some incredibly beautiful places, from our 7 miles of beach, to the Purbecks, Hengistbury Head or, the New Forest. With the weather improving we're hoping to visit these places a little more!

We drove into the heart of the forest, and through the village of Burley. We were aiming for Mill Lawn but ended up at Burley cricket pitch, a vast field with plenty of space for all of our rabble. Sprawled across the grass with the beating sun on our backs, everyone ate together, catching up after a busy week. 

With frisbee, football and the forest to entertain, we whiled away the time in true English fashion. It was the perfect way to spend a beautiful afternoon, and with 40 or so people including lots of new international students (we loved having you by the way!)
What was great to see, was the willingness in which people filled their cars and made sure everyone could be together. Good work to all of you drivers - without you stuff like picnics couldn't happen...and then where would we be!??

As the afternoon slipped into evening, everyone drove back for Citygate's Baptism service. With the building packed with friends and family, it was an exciting evening seeing six people get baptised. 

With Jess Laming and Sophie Poole, Nathan Watkins and Adeleine Dougan as well as Sarah Beer and Julie Gaitan the whole place was filled to the brim with people in support. A chance to hear the incredible stories of rescue, redemption and faithfulness before dunking them in the water. 
 To Reef Encounter for the rest of the evening, to celebrate and chat, and generally enjoy the company of one another.

It's always a bit of a surprise how much you can fit into one day, but I headed home, knackered and ready for bed, but well aware I had enjoyed a fantastic day. 

I heard on the grapevine that PPP last night was a great night of worship and enjoying the presence of God. We can always do with more evenings like that!


Exciting I know, but it's only useful if you JOIN IT! I've added many of you, but it's up to you to make sure that you are in the know, and aware of what is going on. Click HERE to be sent to the new group to join.
Enjoy your week and I'll catch you Sunday. Keep your eyes peeled for lunch plans!

Vicki x

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Mere Christianity?

I was quite interested this week to see that Lou Crabb was doing some research into people's opinions of the Church and Christianity for a uni project, and I've been having a little look at everyone's answers. A bit of a stalker I know...

Naturally I'm a bit of a rambler, and trying to put my thoughts about Church and Christianity into just one word each was a tad tricky. But it did get me thinking.
What do people really thinking Christianity is about? What do you think Christianity is really about?

Before I was a Christian I very much assumed that Christianity was a nice religion, for nice people who wanted to do nice things, and followed the teachings of a nice man.

C.S.Lewis says in Mere Christianity

"I am trying to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I am ready to accept Jesus as the great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a boiled egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Christianity, could be summed up in any number of ways, and I definitely agree with some that wrote, 'love' or  'grace' or 'life' or 'hope'. Christianity is all of those things.

But a Christian is a Christian because they follow Christ, not just his moral teachings, but that they are worshippers of Him. Several people said 'Jesus'. And I think I'm with you on that one. Without Him, we're nothing. He is everything.

Guy reminded us on Sunday that Romans 12 says

 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." 

Let us not conform to what the world perceives Christianity to be, but instead grow in our understanding of what it is to live a life in God's good, pleasing and perfect will.
People described Church as 'family', 'community', 'home'. And again, I love all of these descriptions and truth of each of those words. There are so many ways to describe the Church, but I love that above all, we belong to Jesus. We are His people, and are drawn together and kept together because of Him.

Take a listen to this song, it's a new favourite of mine, and the lyrics remind me of who I am made for, and what I made to do. 

Yesterday we gathered for PPP and it was great to see so many new faces with us - we love having you with us and you are so, so welcome! We spent some time looking at mission, and being filled with the Holy Spirit and knowing that the Holy Spirit is a promise for ALL believers.

This weekend we're looking forward to a big Students and Twenties lunch, before we have Baptisms in the evening!

Some of our Students are going to be getting baptised, and we're really excited to hear their testimonies, and their passion for Jesus so make sure you are out and about to display your love and support. I'm sure we'll be heading to the pub after to continue the celebrations!

Upcoming events to make a note of -

April 22nd Good Friday Celebration 11am
April 23rd St George's Day Treasure Hunting and BBQ
April 24th Easter Sunday Celebration 9.30am and 11.30am
April 30th Evangelism Explosion
June 18th LOST season 3

We're having some technical problems at the moment, in that Facebook seems to strongly dislike us, so keep an eye on statuses, walls etc. as me and James can't seem to send out real messages! We're thinking about setting up a new FB group, which we'll add you to automatically. 

Anyway, I've rambled true to form, but should probably get on. Have a fantastic few days, enjoy Jesus Culture and I shall catch you at the weekend.

Love Vicki x

Monday, 28 March 2011

An hour lost, but light gained

Obviously everyone is aware that this weekend was the official start of British Summer Time, and, as a result, the clocks sprung forwards by an hour in the early hours of Sunday morning. If you're anything like me, the prospect of losing an hours worth of sleeping was not a thrilling prospect. Nevertheless, with another day of sunshine, and the opportunity to wear flip flops, the long awaited winter chill appears to be disappearing.

The past week with Citygate's Students and Twenties has been a fun one. With James on holiday we've had a little break from any form of official PPP on a Monday, but tonight we'll be back, Bible's in hand to worship God, hear some teaching and get praying.

The weekend saw Students and Twenties girls having 'Tea in the Park'. Saturday afternoon was the prime time to take a picnic, made of cream teas, strawberries and lemonade into Bournemouth gardens to enjoy some time together and the rather lovely surroundings in which we live. With a great group of people, we spread the blankets, poured the tea and chatted until it was too cold to function. With the help of Ellie Hamer, we retired to St Swithuns and stuck a film on to while away the hours before Saturday evening's entertainment.

Saturday night was our bi-monthly Five Smooth Stones. The past series we looked at what it is to be a Hedonist, but instead of being consumed with the world and the flesh, being consumed with Jesus and the joy we find in Him, whilst still be relevant to a culture that desperately needs the hope of the Gospel. This weekend we kept it simple, with acoustic worship, wonderfully led by Tom Bettinson and Andy Oates, and then time to take communion together and pray for each other. God's spirit was with us as we continued in more worship, and several prophetic words were brought about being authentic about who you really are, as well as trusting that Jesus is enough for every situation.

Sunday morning arrived, with many people a tad bleary eyed due to the clock changes. Second service was absolutely jam packed and it was exciting to see more new faces with us. We do hope that they'll be joining the family!

Nando's for lunch, and some serious chicken eating. A great chance to see a little more of the town for those who spend their life in Lansdowne and Winton.

Sunday night, with the beginnings of summer, it seemed fairly apt to return to Reef Encounter for the usual Sunday night pub social. Near Boscombe pier, the opportunity to sit outside with blankets, and the added bonus of a pile of board games meant a great evening. A fair few people bought cups of nuts which led to a few fights, and several nuts thrown at people's heads or in drinks... Still, all is fair in love and war...

After a packed few days, we're continuing with our usual line up of events with Monday night PPP, Wednesday morning guys prayer, Wednesday and Thurdsay evening cell groups, Saturday night Cafe 29, and  Sunday morning student girls breakfast, Students and Twenties :Lunch and then the pub in the evening.

That should be enough to be getting along with for now!

Why not take this week to make dinner for some friends and invite people over. Get people to chip in to keep costs down, and get to know people you're not the best of friends with...yet.

Enjoy your week and see you all soon!!


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Spring Feeling

I don't know about you but I am loving the sunshine, the warmth and the lack of winter. 
The past week has really begun to feel like Spring and I am loving every part of it. 

This weekend we packed a lot into one short Sunday. Don't we ever! 
The past two weeks have seen around 15 student girls gathering for breakfast at 'spoons, before heading to the 11.30am service. This week the bar man asked who we were and where we were going. Our regular presence had been noted, and it gave George and opportunity to share a little about Citygate. Shock that a lively bunch were heading to church, was fairly clear to see!

Guy Miller spoke on Sunday, continuing our series on Romans 4 and sharing once again the importance of knowing that we are justified by faith, and not by works. 

Lunch took us to O'Neill's in Lansdowne, and some tasty grub kept us entertained for a few hours. Many people had lots to do so people headed off, and gathered in the evening for Why Jesus, Why Citygate and of course, a trip to the Lynton Court Pub. 

A chilled Sunday, but full of fellowship and the chance to get to know one another better. Pretty perfect if you ask me, especially when you throw a bucket load of sunshine into the mix.

This week you can look forward to:

  • Tea in the Park for all you ladies.
     - Cream tea in Bournemouth Gardens on Saturday afternoon so we can enjoy the scenery and the company of one another.
  • Five Smooth Stones
     - A night of worship prayer and reflection at 7.30pm in St Swithuns

  • Sunday services at 9.30am and 11.30am

  • Nando's Student Lunch

  • Why Citygate PART 2
    - Remember to get along and finish the course

  • Pub Social 
With so much to do, I look forward to seeing everyone over the weekend. 

I was sent a nice email this morning reminding me of the importance of unity. I'd love to see each of you united and looking after one another, welcoming those who are new, and speaking truth and wisdom into the lives of your close friends. 

Floss reminded me of these great U2 lyrics

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters, brothers
One life
But we're not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

And so, with that in mind, have a great week, keep your eyes open for what God might have you do and remember to 'carry each other'.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

The March of Unity

Around 50 of Citygate's Students and Twenties have just returned from sunny Cornwall. Gathered in Bude from Friday to Sunday, we were with around 300 Students and Twenties from across the Southwest Region, reaching from Southampton to Bristol, to Plymouth.
The intention of the weekend was a time of teaching and fellowship, and I can confirm we were well taught, and enjoyed great fellowship. 

Leaving on Friday, cars packed tight with luggage and people, it took three and a half hours to drive to Bude. Now, I quite enjoy a bit of travelling, but even I've got to admit, it was rather lovely as we drove along the country lanes that wind through the West Country. 

Arriving on site, houses were sorted, keys collected and people settled in, with time to cook dinner and have a cup of tea before the evening meeting. The sessions were led by Matt and Grace Hosier of Gateway Church Poole, which is just down the road from us, and Julian Adams was a great guest from Manchester, bringing a great prophetic edge to what God was doing. 

The first evening we spent in extended worship, enjoying the presence of God and being together. Bright and early next morning, it was great to see a huge number of Citygaters at the prayer meeting, ready and raring to seek God and eagerly ask for His blessing on what turned out to be a fantastic day. Was lovely to see us leading the way in prayer and petition, and being loud about our praise. 

Saturday morning kicked off with more extended worship, which led into a preach by Julian Adams, focussed on shame and guilt. We were quite rightly challenged to stop living under the condemnation of shame, which only breeds religious fa├žades, and instead to live authentically before one another. Applicable to you whether you were there or not!

With Saturday afternoon given as free time, some headed off to get on with Uni work, some to play football, wonderfully organised by David Priest, and some headed off to use the site facilities, including a pool and sauna.
A big group of us drove a little further down the coast, into Bude town centre before splitting and deciding to drive to the beach. Around twenty of us drove along the cliffs to a beautiful beach called Widemouth Bay, and spent several happy hours, being chased by kites, climbing through rock pools and taking photos before getting a lovely Cornish Cream Tea back in Bude. 

A rather quick dinner ensued, and then back to the main evening meeting. Another fantastic time of worship and freedom, before Julian Adams spoke on the Kingdom of God and reminded us that God is large and in charge. Prophetic words were then brought, some for people in Citygate, and God reminded us of how well he knows each and every one of us; intimately and perfectly. With a time of ministry, and prayer, God changed hearts, brought freedom and helped to set people's eyes once again on Him!

The rest of the evening involved a pirate disco. Cheesy as it sounds, I understand that everyone enjoyed dressing up and have a bit of a dance, and getting to know some people from the other churches a little better. I think pirate costumes should certainly be used once again so I'm expecting pirate themed events to be organised to get the full use of dressing up clothes.

All too soon Sunday came around and it was our final meeting. Worship was powerful, with prophetic words about the South West Students and Twenties being an army, marching for God's glory, it was great to hear that each of us has a purpose and a job to do. We were reminded that to achieve anything we need to be unified, and I'd echo that by encouraging you all to love each other and be gracious, just as we have been show grace.

Matt Hosier spoke to us from Daniel 3 and the story of Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego, and God met powerfully with many, bringing more freedom; from idols, disappointment and grief. 

Back to houses to pack up, clear up and hopefully not set fire to cookies in the microwave like I did. A long drive back to Dorset, and a weekend well spent.

The question now, is, 'Should we do it again?'

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Gossip the Gospel

Tuesday is here, and that means that it's only three days until In Bude. Which is set to be a weekend of epic excitement and a great time to meet with God. 

The weekend past was busy, with so much going on, and so many things that could be mentioned. Many of you would have been at the launch of Living Hope Africa, a charity launched by some of the members of our Citygate Students and Twenties family. A fantastic evening of culture and good food, and the waxing of Aaron and James, made it rather memorable, and left everyone expectant of great things happening out in Kenya.

Sunday services were kicked off with John Hosier preaching, and sharing his wealth of knowledge and wisdom. For those of you not there, the preach is up on the church website for your listening enjoyment! 

A German themed lunch followed, along with some of the leftovers from Saturday night, all in aid of Kat, who, after being with us for the last 6 months or so, will now be heading back to Germany on Thursday. We'll be sad to see her go, will definitely miss her a lot! If you can, make sure to say farewell and give her a big hug! Following lunch we were taught some traditional German folk dancing, much to the amusement to all the brave souls that didn't run away but stayed around to watch. 

Sunday evening was probably the highlight of the day for me, with five people getting baptised, two of whom are part of the Students and Twenties group. Five guys, including our very own, Andy Yeates and Tom Faulkner gave testimony to God saving them, changing their lives and causing them to want to live life in a different way.

Testimonies included the stories of

- a man who left another religion to follow Jesus
- a man whose life of addiction was transformed by knowing Jesus as His Savious
- a man who was taking a big leap in publicly choosing to confess Jesus as his Lord
- a man who had come from a place of trusting God, walking away from Him, and then coming back to wanting to pursue Him
- and a man who had often questioned, and then finally met with the Living God

As each person shared their story I was once again struck by the people that God calls, the incredible way in which he calls us, and then what he asks us to do. Baptisms are a great time for celebration, but also a great time to gossip the Gospel. By this, it is a fantastic opportunity to chat about Jesus in a really personal way, sharing with others, the power and love he has, and the way he is personally involved in each of our lives.

Nothing is quite so effective. 

I look forward to more and more stories appearing, and lots more testimonies of salvation that give us cause to gossip about Jesus and share what He is doing. 

My prayer is that In Bude will be an occasion like that. With great speakers Matt Hosier and Julian Adams, I'm looking forward to a time where God breaks in, changes hearts, lives and situations and causes us all to sit up and think.

I love a story and I love a God story even more.
Take a listen to this album and think about the story that you have to tell and then get sharing!

Matthew West – The Story Of Your Life

This week you can look forward to the first part of Equip, which are seminar style teaching evenings available to all, and running on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Choices are:
1. The Pursuit of Happyness
2. Budget Coaching; breaking the debt cycle (students this will be excellent for you!)
3. Building Strong Families


All that is left to say, is that I shall see you In Bude!
Love x