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.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Stop Playing Church

This weekend, was, on the whole fairly quiet. Having had a busy week, with Engine Room on Wednesday (and it was great to see lots of you there! Well done!!) it was great to get together on Sunday, see everyone and spend some time chatting.
With half term week it was great to see some of you busy AECC students sticking around for lunch. Similarly, we missed all of you who went home for the weekend, it being half way through your term.

Lunch was pizza. Lots of yummy, yummy pizza, just as Facebook promised. It may not have been Domino's but Asda did a pretty good job I thought at serving us tasty food, obviously with the help of Chef James in the kitchen.

In the evening we were able to head to the Lynton for some continued socialising, and chilling out. A good weekend followed by what I heard was an incredible night at PPP yesterday. If you were there, share the love and spread the stories of what God is doing. 

If you were in Church on Sunday, you would've heard Guy explaining for us, Romans 2 and speaking these challenging words.

"You need to be cut to the heart. You need to stop playing church. It will never change anything. It will ruin your life. 
You need to stop playing Christianity and pretending everything is fine..."

I’ve been challenged by these words, and I’d encourage you to ponder what they mean too. Are you ‘playing Church’? Are you ‘playing Christianity’? Is your life nothing but a mask, where you wear a costume, you say the right thing; you pretend you’re fine…and yet inside, you are hurt, broken and lonely. This kind of Christianity is not Christianity at all, and Guy was right when he said it will ruin your life.

Church is not a game, and neither is life. We're not playing monopoly. It's not about plastic money, tiny houses and going round in circles.

In Church, no one should be wearing a mask. It is a safe place to discuss your life, and more importantly to grow in God. If no one sees who you really are, no one can encourage or teach you.

Too much of the world, and too many Christians and non-Christians expect Christian life to look religious. Church on a Sunday. A nice cup of tea. Helping the elderly cross the road. We’re not meant to be living lives that mirror Ned Flanders or Dot Branning. We’re meant to be living lives that mirror Jesus. Jesus got to the heart of things. Jesus felt things. And He was totally dependent on His Father in Heaven.

Last week I shared some of the vision behind the kind of community we want to build amongst Citygate’s Students and Twenties. This week, you’ve heard from the front how that is to be done.

Stop playing Church.
Stop playing Christianity.

Take your faith seriously.

What would happen if you committed to God your life, and to living a lifestyle of integrity, honesty, and truthfulness? What might happen if you took off your mask and let people see how you really feel?

My encouragement to you is to get to a place where you’re willing to do that. Let’s get rid of the religious fa├žade and the ‘holier-than-thou’ attitudes. Let’s get to grips with our faith and what that means and how that works itself out in day to day lives.

Perhaps then we can destroy the idea that Christianity is about religious behavior,
coloured robes and fake smiles. Who in the world wants to pursue that? Which of your friends that don’t yet know Jesus are going to be won over by that?

Fortunately the truth is that we live under grace, we were saved by grace, and there is grace for us to change. There is grace for us to change how Christianity is seen in our nation, and amongst our friends.

Sunday morning finished with this song. Listen, reflect, and if you need to talk about things please get in contact with James or I.

Let’s allow our hearts to be changed on the inside instead of pursuing good works on the outside, for the sake of other people’s expectations.

Much Love Amigos.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Chickens and the Church Community

This blog was always meant to be a way for Citygate Students and Twenties to keep up to date with things that our community are doing, as well as general family news and information about events.

This weekend past, around 40 people headed out to Becky's farm for some time to relax, enjoy the Oxfordshire countryside, and generally get to know each other better. 

From around 5pm on the Friday afternoon people began to descend and as the swimming pool and hot tub were put to good use, people ate some pizza and camped out in the various rooms chatting and chilling out after a long week. We got together in the lounge to spend some time praying together for the weekend, and for each other and as God moved us, we decided to split into groups, getting to know people we have yet to really meet. 

A great time where we were encouraged, and the tone was set for the days ahead. The rest of the night was spent with drinks and nibbles around the kitchen table, or in the pool, chatting away. Some time in the early hours of the morning we decided sleep and bed was a good plan so we each retired to our spots on the floor, or air beds and cushions for the smart, and spread ourselves out across the house. 

I have reason to believe that some people decided that this was an appropriate time to head back to the hot tub, but hey, it was definitely one of those weekends.

Saturday morning arrived with the smell of pancakes cooking on the air. Downstairs Chana and Adam were cooking away, and kept at it until the many mouths had had their fill. Lemon, sugar or golden syrup flowed as people woke up, showered and got themselves ready for the day ahead. 

With so many people around, it was tricky to get everyone to decide what to do. Lots of people jumped into their swim wear but some of us headed out across the countryside, for a walk in the hills. It was a perfect day, with blue skies, a few clouds and a warm sun. There was almost the smell of spring in the air. 

As lunch arrived, huge amount of cheese were grated, tomatoes were chopped and the bread buttered. Sandwiches and cakes were eaten by all, and the afternoon was left to us to use as we liked. Some people wandered to the shops, I headed out to Banbury (and saw Banbury cross, where there was a fine lady upon a white horse, with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes who supposedly has music wherever she goes) but some people used the time to nap, read books, play games and chat to people.

Louise Ashton got her henna out, Ema Eden got her make up out and the kitchen was rather transformed into a bit of a girly area. James Druce and team cooked up a roast, and for the evening we got together with a big roast (I'm sure there was half a cow's worth of meat) and some sociable eating. 

Whilst everyone got on with eating up the huge amounts of potatoes, a few of the girls headed out to the hot tub, only to find that they ended up with a bit of a reaction to the chlorine. A little drama ensued, but good ol' Josh Martin used his medical skills and calmed things down. 

Scott Pilgrim vs the World was put on for people's viewing pleasure, and anyone not watching that got involved in a big game of sardines in the dark. Some of the guys were watching football in the kitchen, and some people headed out for a bit of a night time walk. Once again, a late night for all which left everyone rather sleepy for the final morning and packing up.

With bacon butties for breakfast, we gathered together to finish the weekend with a time of worship led by Tom Bettinson and Josh Martin, followed by a passage from 2 Corinthians which James explained and talked to us about. It was an amazing way to end our few days together, and God was definitely amongst us. It was incredible to look around, see people stood, kneeling, or sat, all singing their hearts out and worshipping Jesus. 

With the incredible refrain 

"You're all I want, you're all I need, you're everything, everything..." being sung, I was definitely struck by how awesome our God is, that he would call you and I to follow Him, to live our lives sold out for Him, and to transform the hearts of our generation through our love for Him and all that means.

Goodbyes were said and cars were shoved full of luggage and everyone left the farm, with big thank yous to the whole Welford family for their kindness and generosity. 

In the aftermath of this weekend I've been really challenged by the idea of community. The thing is, Citygate Students and Twenties were never meant to be just a community defined in the same way the world would define us. "A social group, sharing common characteristics" doesn't quite convey the depth of what we're about.

Ultimately we're family. 
Brothers and sisters, united in Christ, we're to love one another and to take care of one another. 

Acts 2 says

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

I would love to see our family, working within the wider contexts of Citygate Church, and within Newfrontiers, modelled on this kind of community. 

  • Devoted to teaching, fellowship, communion and prayer.
  • Seeing signs and wonders
  • Selling property or possessions to reach out to those in need.
  • Meeting together, sharing meals together.
  • Praising and worshipping God with one another.
  • Seeing people saved daily and added to the family.
Now, don't get me wrong, I love what we're doing already, I think it's amazing and it constantly makes me stand in awe of God, and of you all but what's the harm in looking for more, hoping for bigger things and closer relationships.

Can I encourage you, please do begin to take some steps to seeing this. Lets not be passive about what we have but to eagerly desire more of what God has in store for us as a church!

Part of this is means being at events which will help you grab hold of the vision. 

  1. IN BUDE - get on it and message me ASAP for a space.
  2. Mobilise - tickets go up in price on Monday so book in for four days of incredible teaching in Brighton in July.
  3. Westpoint - you're soon to hear LOTS about this. Regional Weekend in August, it's for the whole family and if you're crazy if you don't get there. 

Lots of love to you all and I hope you had a great day yesterday.
Vicki x

Monday, 14 February 2011

St Valentines Day

Orignially a day to celebrate a group of martyrs who died for their Christian faith, it is now a day all too famous for cheesy cards, red roses and cuddly toys. 

Now if love and feeling can be expressed in those, perhaps that is fine. But perhaps a challenge to you - if Citygate Students and Twenties are to be a group of people that live differently to the world, how then do we show love. 

This passage, so often repeated without the full impact of it's truth is a real challenge to how we are to love. 

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 8 Love never fails.

Whether you are in a relationship or not, I challenge you to practically show love to someone. 

If that means being patient with an annoying relative, be patient. If that means not showing envy, do not be jealous of those who perhaps are on a date. If that means forgiving, and speaking well of others, do just that. 

Rejoice in truth. And perhaps rejoice even more in the truth that God is love, and therefore we follow a God whose love knows no ends. 

Extend the love that you have experienced by following Jesus, to those that are yet to know him. Lets get practical. Forget the materialistic view of things, forget what the world says about love - go the extra mile and show what love really is, defined by God, and not by man.

With love in Christ, have a very blessed day.
Vicki x

PS - a blog post about Chicken Time will be coming shortly, so make sure to check it out.