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.

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!)