church loughborough

WHY WHITE MIDDLE CLASS CHRISTIANITY NEEDS CHANGE
by Ps Roy Todd

The racist murder of George Floyd last week was shockingly evil. Sadly though, this is just one of a long litany of such horrific acts over the years. There shouldn’t even be the slightest hint of hesitation in calling it out, especially among church leaders. Silence is not an option.

Yet when a white church leader condemns such an atrocity on social media, there is the danger of thinking that an expression of outrage alone is sufficient. It is not. In the UK, white middle class Christianity can be very good at expressing verbal solidarity from a distance toward those it perceives to be oppressed. But while such expressions are well intended, the challenge is that they can be mere tokenism, even patronising to our black brothers and sisters – and quickly forgotten as life cruelly moves on.

The time has come for real change, not mere words. If white church leaders are serious about doing something meaningful and demonstrating a better way, then there needs to be a total willingness to move out of the comfort zone. It’s time for leaders to get on with the quiet work of raising up a generation which reflects the brilliance and diversity of modern Britain. This means far more than including a few photographs of people of colour on a church website. Instead, some serious questions need to be addressed. For example, why are so many church leadership teams 100% white? Why? Do people of colour even feel welcomed, valued and included in church? How many church leaders are actively spending time with and investing in the potential of people from a range of cultural backgrounds who are part of the congregation, not just those who are white?

All the finest words in the world pale in comparison to the gritty work of championing a generation who will make a difference. It takes time. It involves listening to the experiences of others. It means understanding that not everyone is like you. It means recognising the gift of God in people’s lives, taking risks, creating opportunity, cheering others on and equipping people with confidence to change their world. This is the kind of leadership that affects REAL change. White middle class Christianity needs a cultural revolution, and this starts with leaders.

Just before the lockdown, I spent an evening with a group of young men from a range of cultural backgrounds. I asked them to share some of their experiences in life. The stories they told were a revelation – at times deeply disturbing. Yet the dignity and grace with which these young men carry themselves shines through in their demeanour. Each of them is gifted by God, and all of them has a part to play in the life of the church I lead. Just spending time and listening was like a tonic to my soul, far more than any encouragement I offered them. They make me a better person. I am amazed at this rising generation. If you’d spent some time with them too, you’d realise they are a major reason to have hope for the future. 

After the events of last week, I’m committing myself to working even harder to champion this generation and see the UK Church reflect what God is doing today in modern Britain. This means being totally intentional about encouraging the God given giftedness in people of colour. It would be a travesty not to.

White middle class Christianity needs to do more than just call out the evil of racism. This alone is not enough. The Church needs to BE at the forefront of embracing cultural diversity in our nation. Afterall, this is what happens in God’s kingdom! But for this to happen, some serious and genuine soul searching needs to happen, and the comfort zone of white middle class Christianity needs to be left behind.

Below is a recent Sunday talk I gave to the Junction Church.

 

BE POSITIVE

BE POSITIVE
by Roy Todd

Let’s suppose that life for you is pretty decent 90% of the time. How do you measure this? Well, let’s say you have reasonable health, a good community around you, potential, prospects, opportunity, a roof over your head and food on your table…plus a whole lot more besides. Sure, there are some challenges too…and no-one is exempt from these. Yet, if it’s true that life is fine 90% of the time, then it begs the question – why do so many people carry negative vibes 90% of the time? It doesn’t make sense. I might even go further and say…it lacks integrity!!! See, being negative is often mistaken for ‘just being honest’. But it’s not the same. The two are very different.

Negativity is manifested through things like…cynicism, suspicion, gossip, complaining, nastiness, insecurity, backbiting, poor behaviour, mean spiritedness, a sense of entitlement, complaint & criticism, joylessness and a refusal to celebrate what’s good in others. Negativity feels better about itself when it is putting others down.

Proverbs 11:27 sheds some light. It says ‘If you search for good, you WILL find favour; but if you search for evil, it WILL find you’. In other words, you WILL get what you’re looking for. So…what are you looking for?

It’s all too easy to get caught up in negative culture. How many offices are filled with gossip? How many work places are steeped in a culture of complaint? How many times have you seen snide comments on social media that are unfair and unjust? Yet so often, we just go along with it because we assume these negative vibes are normal. But for a person of faith, this is NOT normal. Faith can never thrive in an atmosphere that is negative…ever. Nothing will ever get accomplished in a negative culture either.

Truth is, God has called us to be different. This means he wants us to challenge the ‘norm’ by showing HIS norm.

If I could get alongside you and encourage you in this season of your life, then I would strongly advise you….BE POSITIVE. It doesn’t mean you won’t have challenges and tough times. Of course you will – and faith never denies these when they occur. But being positive means keeping perspective – and checking your attitude in the midst of challenging times. See, you can’t always control your circumstances. But you CAN control your words….always.

Words are powerful because they set the atmosphere over your life. Proverbs 18:21 puts it this way: “The tongue has the power of life and death”. This means you have the power to speak life and hope – or doom and dispair. It is completely your choice. The challenge for many is habitual negativity that is stuck in a rut and which needs to be seriously challenged and adjusted. My encouragement to you is…ask God to help you. As a natural melancholic, I know I need God’s help.

Be positive. Be an encourager. Speak well of others. Don’t just blurt out the first negative thought that comes into your mind. The bible encourages us to ‘take every thought into captivity and make it obedient to Christ’. It will radically change the vibe in you and around you…and that’s exactly what our world is going to need more than ever before. 

church nottingham

IN PURSUIT OF THE MIRACULOUS 
by Roy Todd

Ten years ago, I wrote a book called ‘In Pursuit of the Miraculous’. I reckon I could write a follow up based on the past two weeks alone! It has been nothing short of miraculous.

It all started when my wife Lydia gave birth to our beautiful baby daughter Sophia Hope at 11:27am on a balmy Monday morning in mid August. All seemed to be going well at first. However, later that evening, Lydia had a faint whilst she was on a short walk to freshen herself up. The medical people initially put it down to sheer exhaustion. But the following day, she had two more similar episodes, the latter of which resulted in a complete loss of colour from her face. As I held my little daughter in my arms and watched my wife slump to the ground surrounded by nurses and doctors, an uncomfortable lump formed in the back of my throat that I could hardly bear to swallow. It was an unbelievably shocking situation, the gravity of which I was more than aware of. I will never forget the feeling of absolute vulnerability as I wondered whether my little girl might lose her mum. It was heart breaking to see.

Further tests showed that Lydia had developed internal bleeding during which she lost 3 litres of blood. They carried out two blood transfusions, none of which were successful. In fact, her blood count afterwards was even lower than before. Furthermore, her blood pressure continued to drop dramatically while her pulse rate raced dangerously high beyond 150 bpm. These were all the signs of continued internal bleeding. That night, the consultant told me in no uncertain terms how serious the situation was if the bleeding should continue. The medical team then proceeded to administer two more blood transfusions. ‘The next 12 hours are critical’ were the parting words of one consultant.

It was around this time that I sent out a message asking people to pray. So many agreed with us for a miraculous breakthrough. We were certainly in miracle territory. I personally called out to God and laid my hands on Lydia’s head, believing for complete healing. This was no time for nice prayers. It was the cry of a broken & desperate man claiming healing over his wife’s life. I remember feeling a powerful sense of God’s presence in that moment.

The next day, Lydia began to slowly stabilise. Her blood pressure rose, her pulse rate dropped and her haemoglobin levels were higher. These were all signs that the internal bleed had stopped. It truly was a miracle. God had answered our prayers.

Over the next few days, there were a few more drama’s including threats of further internal clotting and a lot more calling out to God (those stories are for another day). However, time and again, God answered. Eventually after 11 days in hospital, all her levels normalised and we were allowed home. That was an emotional journey for sure (ok, playing disney tunes didn’t help!).

Archbishop Temple once said ‘When we pray, coincidences happen’. I am in no doubt whatsoever that God did a series of miracles in my wife’s situation in August 2018. I don’t understand it all, but I just know that God was at work.

Having had some time to reflect on what happened, it has not dented my confidence in God. The very opposite is true. There’s a growing conviction in my heart to believe like never before for God’s miraculous power in others. With him, all things are possible. I totally believe it.

To all those who stood in agreement with us, thank you. To the medical team who cared for us, we salute you. To Jehovah Rapha who intervened and heard our cries for healing, we honour you. God is real.

LOUGHBOROUGH

LOUGHBOROUGH

We offer two Sunday morning services in Loughborough - 9.30am and 11pm. These all take place in the Main Hall at De Lisle College.

LEICESTER

LEICESTER

We meet every Sunday at 2:30pm in Leicester Preparatory School, 2 Albert Rd, Leicester LE2 2AA. We have great worship and outstanding teaching.

NOTTINGHAM

NOTTINGHAM

We meet at Nottingham Girls School every Sunday night at 6:30pm for a brilliant evening of worship, teaching and community.

church nottingham

DRAWN BACK TO THE FATHER’S HEART 
by Roy Todd

We’re all prone to wandering from God. It’s not for no reason that Isaiah describes us as being ‘like sheep who have gone astray’. Sure, sometimes our relationship with God is fresh and fervent. But if we’re honest, it’s not always like that. Complacency can so easily set into our lives. We get distracted from what really matters. Priorities change as life progresses. Sometimes, the very breakthroughs we believed for become the blockage to our faith in Jesus. Ironic indeed.

The tendency to go our own way is exactly the issue with the prodigal son in the third of three stories Jesus tells in Luke 15. Yet what makes this tale different from the previous two parables is the extent of God’s love for people. For example, in the story of the lost coin, the woman searched and found it. Then in the story of the lost sheep, the shepherd went looking and recovered it. But in the story of the rebellious son, the father let his child go. This was an act of profound love on the Father’s part. After all, true love is unforced. Yet the father waited…day after day…month after month…year after year. The story teaches us that distance cannot limit the scope of God’s grace. The Father wouldn’t stop waiting. Why? Because he believed his son would one day come home. He had a conviction that the prodigal would eventually ‘come to his senses’ and be drawn back. That’s exactly what happened. The son’s return was met with underserved forgiveness and unmerited favour. That’s grace. Breathtakingly generous.

Salvation is 100% the work of God. It has nothing whatsoever to do with human achievement. We cannot earn a place at the Father’s table. Any hint of ‘merit’ indicates the existence of religion rather than authentic relationship. The only reason we can approach God is because HE has drawn us. His grace has made a way. He has been waiting for us. The story is not about prodigal rebellion. It’s all the Father heart of God.

In my own walk with God, I have found that I am not merely drawn to God once…but over and over again. His heart of love is what does it. How can I resist such utterly astonishing grace? It never fails to amaze me how much God loves his people. When the Holy Spirit tugs on your heart, don’t resist. Allow him to lead you to the place where you belong. 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE.

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DON’T BE A CHURCH CYNIC!! 
by Roy Todd

There used to be a TV show called the Muppets. One of the puppet acts featured was a couple of old curmudgeons who were theatre critics. They were constantly carping and sniping at every performance they watched and they could never bring themselves to say anything kind about acts other than their own. 

Sometimes, the Christian world can seem a bit like those two old disapproving muppets. Instead of modelling a generous and grace-filled culture which celebrates others, it often feels pretty cold and mean spirited. All the ‘expressions of unity’ in the world are nothing compared to the uncomplicated simplicity of warm encouragement and genuine appreciation. It’s not rocket science. But it really matters.

One of the biggest challenges facing Christianity in the UK is largely unobserved in its own ranks. Its called CYNICISM. This is a habitual way of thinking which is far more comfortable criticising than celebrating. I’m not sure it’s fair to say this is a distinctly British problem, but it is undoubtedly an issue for the wider Church in our nation. It doesn’t take long to pick up on its vibe in conversations and social media interactions. 

Cynicism is usually wrapped up in the language of pseudo intellectualism and illusions of spiritual superiority. It is contemptuous of anything it perceives as different. But the tell tale sign of it’s lurking presence is the constant negativism which lies at its core. It much prefers to find fault than search for what is good. This ultimately leads to a sense of pessimism which contaminates local church life and is a killer of faith. What then follows is a downward spiral of doom, gloom, insecurity and eventually, the self fulfilment of its own fears. This is one of the major reasons why so many churches are dying a slow and ungracious death. The toxicity of cynicism is a contagion which smothers life. Leaders would do well to be alert to its subtle danger.

Whatever you do, don’t be a church cynic!! Check your heart to see if it has found a home in your life. If the very reading of this blog post stirs a reaction in you which is resentful and irritable, then this is a good thing. You’ve just been alerted to the existence of cynicism in your life. 

The Church should be the very antithesis of worldly culture. Instead of accusatory and disapproving sentiments, the vibe of every local church should be positive, warm and encouraging. This is the shock to the system that is so desperately needed today. Merely talking about ‘love’ is as meaningless as explaining that water is wet. It needs to be articulated in a way that is real and authentic. Cynicism is no friend of true love. Thats why the alternative needs to be experienced. More than ever, people need to see what real love looks like. It is everything which cynicism is not. Here’s a good prayer to pray: “Lord, help me live your message. Amen”

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE.

church loughborough

THIS RISING GENERATION 
by Roy Todd

Here at the Junction Church, we’re passionate about championing a rising generation. This is far more than a platitude. It’s a reality that is happening week after week. For me, this is part of our divine remit. Nothing encourages my heart more than seeing young adults finding their feet and walking in God given confidence.

The other day, I happened to read an article which lamented ‘millennials’ in today’s Church (universal), with particular emphasis on the influence of Hillsong music. The article urged churches to return to the spirit of the 80’s / 90’s during which period, worship was more ‘authentic’. As I read the blog, I found myself thinking ‘what’s so authentic about walking backwards?’ Besides, there were plenty of voices back then which deplored what was happening! You see, the problem with the good old days is….they were never THAT good. 

As someone who has reached the dizzy heights of ‘middle age’, I am all too aware that I could very easily settle into middle life listening to classical music and 1990’s hits (ok, mainly classical music). The temptation is to comfortably live off some pretty decent memories of years gone by. But as much as some great things happened back in the day, we must be sure not to allow the sentiment of hindsight to blind our perspective. Our greatest gift is to cheer on those who are younger than us. This is an honour…and the BEST way to stay fresh and young at heart.

There is a rising generation, whether we see it or not. Get to know their heart and you’ll find they are authentic and fresh…in their way. Church leaders would be wise to give them space to express worship that helps them connect with God, not impose our stylistic preferences upon them. This rising generation are the future. The reason large sections of the Christian Church are struggling so desperately is because of the sheer disconnect with this generation – and a failure to invest in them. You’d think we’d learn, hey?

Is what is happening today perfect? No. But it wasn’t perfect 20 years ago either…or 100 years ago…or 500 years ago. But we have every reason to have hope and optimism for the future. A generation is on the rise. World, you’d better watch out.

Check out the Junction Church Loughborough here.

church nottingham

WHO WILL LISTEN?
by Roy Todd

Sometimes, it feels like the world is becoming increasingly judgmental and disinterested in understanding. When an accusatory culture rules the day, it creates a toxic environment where negativity and division flourishes. No doubt the thoughtless (and even abusive) use of social media has largely contributed to this vibe.

Yet in the midst of all the craziness, there are people – real people. No, not the caricatured stereotypes labelled by dogmatic idealism. Just down to earth, everyday people, each with their own story to tell. Truth is, everybody has one. But who will listen?

Some are able to articulate their stories better than others. But it’s our story that has led each of us to the point where we currently find ourselves in life. Our upbringing. Our circumstances. Our flaws. Our mistakes. Our joys. Our sorrows. Our disappointments. Our successes. The list goes on. These all form part of our story. 

If only we took the time to listen a little more instead of throwing accusations. If only we sought to understand the experiences of others instead of judging them. If only we tried a little harder to see beyond the narrow idealistic argument to the grit of a path which has been walked before. Then maybe, just maybe, we’d measure our words more carefully and extend a little more grace. We all need it.

One of the greatest contributions each of us can make in our world today is to resist the pressure of merely running to the beat of the crowd. History teaches us how catastrophically dangerous this is. In a world of confused noise, wise people take time to think for themselves. One of the most helpful ways we can do this is to exercise the gift of listening. No-matter how much we feel we know, all of us have much to learn. 

Above all other voices, what about the one that matters most? Who will believe his report? When God speaks, it’s usually quiet and still. It takes discipline and reflection to discern his wisdom, especially in the midst of a thunderously rowdy world. Yet his word is the one that is eternal consequence. Dare to stop. Dare to think. Dare to LISTEN.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE.

church nottingham

GOD BLESS BISHOP MICHAEL
by Roy Todd

At the wedding of Harry & Meghan, something happened which caused quite a stir. A bishop by the name of Michael Curry preached a brilliant sermon which had some real conviction & passion. These are things you don’t always find amidst the formal pomp and circumstance of a British royal wedding. 

The response to Bishop Curry’s message by the stiff upper lip types was monotonously predictable. There was a great deal of murmuring from those who can’t bring themselves to recognise any different expression of church other than the established one. The BBC commentator patronisingly described Bishop Curry’s sermon as ‘forceful and uplifting‘. Say what?? Mr BBC man was uttering verbal clap trap of the most condescending kind. Honestly….the BBC…bless. Bishop Michael was different…and surely this should be well and truly celebrated?!!! He wasn’t being ‘forceful‘ at all. He simply sounded like a man who believed what he was talking about. That’s a good thing!!!

As I watched Bishop Curry preaching his brilliant message and the awkward reaction afterwards, my mind was drawn back to something that happened when we first planted the Junction Church in Loughborough. I’ll never forget chatting to a brand new Christian who’d been journeying with us. This zealous person had gone into town giving out flyers advertising our new church (something which we had not asked them to do). After receiving lots of positive feedback from passers by, a church minister who happened to walk by (wearing a collar) took one of the flyers and rudely asked what this was all about. As the new Christian naively tried to explain our heart, the minister then proceeded to scrunch up the flyer and grumbled words to the effect ‘we don’t need another church in this town‘ before abruptly walking off. The new Christian could hardly believe what had just happened. Truly shocking stuff…yet that’s just one story!! Surely it would have been far better to just celebrate a different kind of church instead of criticising it? 

Anyway…back to Bishop Curry. I loved his sermon. I love it that he was different. I love the fact that he dared to bring some warm passion into a context which can be cold and clinical. This is exactly what the UK Church needs more of. It’s something to be celebrated, not frowned upon. This is a new day and there’s change in the air. A new generation is rising up. It’s time to get with it. God bless Bishop Michael!! 

CHECK OUT OUR LATEST CAMPUS – THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE.

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WE ALL NEED GOD’S GRACE
by Gordon Kawuma

I had to come to terms with a less than ideal situation pretty early on in life. This meant I was fostered from the age of 5 right up until my 18th birthday. So it’s been an interesting journey, complex and way beyond my control. 

Thing is, sympathy is not the answer to hardship. Most people hate the idea of others feeling sorry for them. Actually, I’ve discovered for myself that God’s grace not only saves me but empowers my life too. It’s upon this truth where I’ve found true freedom. I’m so glad to be part of the Junction Church community. Here, I found family. Here, I’m safe. Here, I’ve grown and flourished. 

In a less than perfect world, God’s grace has made a universe of difference to me. This doesn’t mean I suddenly have answers to all the complicated questions of life. I don’t. We’re all born into a unique set of circumstances. Everyone has struggles. Just because someone else might have been brought up differently to me doesn’t mean they don’t have their share of issues too. These normally just take a different form. That’s why it’s a mistake to measure a person’s inward wellbeing by their outward appearance. The two don’t necessarily equate. No-matter how good somebody’s life may look, the truth is that none of us are perfect. 

So whoever you are and whatever you’ve been through, lean into God’s grace. Why? Because none of us are THAT good. But God’s grace really is THAT good. It has saved me. It can save you too. Lean in. Keep trusting. Allow God’s grace to shape your life. This is what will make a difference. 

CHECK OUT SOME OF THE LATEST JUNCTION CHURCH MUSIC HERE.

church nottingham

LETTER TO MY 20 YEAR OLD SELF
by Roy Todd

Dear Roy,

Hello. It’s me, now in your 40’s. I’m a bit older now…but not VERY old…yet. From your present vantage point though, you’ll no doubt reckon this old boy writing to you is ancient. Great thing is, I don’t really care. See, that’s what happens when you put a few years on the clock; you become less concerned about what people think of you. This is mostly a good thing, I think.

Now permit me to indulge in some patronising reflections which I know you’ll read with wry amusement. And by the way, be sure to keep that bizarre humour of yours, no-matter what anybody says. When christians try to turn you into an intense zombie like creature, resist it with every funny bone in your body. I promise, your humour will save your life…literally. Don’t worry if others are bemused by you. That’s ok. As long as you enjoy life, that’s what matters. Though probably best to avoid telling that misplaced joke at the funeral service you’ll take in about eight years from now.

Now then, you’re currently in your 20’s. I reckon this is the most significant decade of your life. The foundations you lay today are a prophecy of your tomorrow. So don’t be in a hurry. Just build slowly & well. And don’t worry if people havn’t recognised your potential. Quietly get on with it. Good things will follow….I promise. 

Over the next few years, you’ll hear more and more clap trap about ‘going on a journey to discover who you really are’. I can confirm that your hunch about this is absolutely correct. Yes, it’s all complete and utter tosh. Never EVER try to find yourself. If you do, you’ll end up becoming the sick child of an even sicker society. This is not good. No, don’t ‘find yourself’. Instead, define yourself by your God given convictions. Never compromise on them…not for one moment. Carpe Diem…..seize the day. Cos you’ve only got one shot at this thing. So make it count. 

Now Roy, can I please implore you to work a bit harder. I know you could easily get a first in your degree if you’d just put in a tad more effort. Just because you can pick things up quite quickly and remember details doesn’t mean you have an excuse to give as little attention as possible to your subject of choice. Theology matters….even more than music. Yes it does. Your 40 year old self wishes he’d worked a bit harder on this. Don’t be complacent. You’re going to need it because one day, you’ll pioneer a church called the Junction Church. And believe me, if you think the world is messed up now, wait till you see what it looks like in 20 years!! 

Right, a quick word about friendships. They’re far more valuable than you currently realise. So cherish them…especially the good ones. In fact, invest in these a lot more. See, what gives quality to life is not money or stuff. It’s the people you do life with. There are many fine acquaintances…but not many great friends. So build great friendships. They’re more important than you presently realise.

Don’t worry about feeling too young to serve God. It won’t be long until you wake up one morning and discover you’re 30. From that point onwards, life becomes a mad race to the finish line (wherever that will be). 

Ok, you’ll be pleased to know that I’m closing off now. Can I implore you though, over the next few years, choose your battles well. Some things you’ll be tempted to fight about just aren’t worth it. So channel your passions to what really matters. Live well. Aim for the ‘well done good and faithful servant.’ In the end, this is what matters most. 

Be confident, but avoid arrogance. Be wise, but don’t be too cautious. Be passionate, but resist anger. Twenty years from now, ‘brexit’ will happen (no…don’t ask) and the world will become angry to boiling point. It needs a different vibe. The Church has to be a positive force for good, carrying the authentic good news of Jesus Christ. Don’t allow mean spirited Christians and religious politics to make you cynical. The world really needs something radically different. Fight FOR what matters.

Right then, I’m off. Hopefully I’ll be in touch in another 20 years. Until then, keep giving it your best shot. Stay adventurous and love the journey, bumps and all. 

Regards, Roy

p.s. Just a heads up. In a few years from now, you’ll meet a young lady called Lydia. Marry her…no questions asked. She’s definitely the one. 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE.