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 loughborough

WHY I STOPPED SAYING

‘The BEST is yet to come!’. Who coined this phrase? Many preachers have claimed it as their own. But my understanding is that it was originated by an old English preacher called John Wesley who said ‘The best is yet to be‘.

Whatever it’s origins, I’ve stopped saying it. No, it’s not because I don’t believe it anymore. Nor is it because I’ve given up being positive. The reason I ceased saying it is for the sake of my sanity. Let me explain.

You see, too often, our hopes for the future can drown out the highlights of today. This struck me very strongly recently when I was reflecting on our journey at the Junction Church. Back at the beginning, the idea of hundreds of people meeting across three campuses was just a dream. Today, this is a reality…and it’s growing. Yet the visionary part of me kept forgetting to celebrate today’s blessings. I forgot what it felt like at the start. Instead, I was thinking of reaching more people. I was pondering more locations. I was looking at all the things we have yet to see. Nothing wrong with incessant optimism. But for life to be truly appreciated, we need to afford ourselves the space to slow down and breathe. 

It’s like planning to eat at a fine Michelin star restaurant. When you arrive and the meal is eventually presented, you relish it. You eat it slowly. You enjoy the occasion. You don’t just gobble it down with an optimistic grin that says ‘the best is yet to come!’. What would be the point of that? Yet sometimes, that’s just what we Christians can be like. We forget to LOVE the journey because we’re so fixated on the future!! Chill!!!

Ephesians 1:3 says ‘we are blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ’. Notice, this statement is present tense, not future tense. In other words, we are blessed right here, right now. We’re living it and breathing it and eating it and sleeping it!! Perhaps our challenge is that we just don’t see how blessed we actually are?

My vision for the future is as strong as ever, My dreams are crazier than ever before too. But I’m also determined to enjoy life more. Dreams are healthy. But drivenness is not. That’s why I’ve stopped saying ‘The Best is yet to come’. This statement, whilst sounding noble and right, can actually rob us of joy. 

For me, I’m living in God’s best right now. And tomorrow, I’ll be living in God’s best too. That’s my journey. If you’ll open your eyes, you’ll find that it’s yours too. Enjoy!

Check out the Junction Church Loughborough, Leicester & Nottingham.

church in leicester

BEWARE OF THE SPIRIT OF FEAR 
by Roy Todd

Have you noticed that the fear industry is booming at the moment? These are good days for things like suspicion, cynicism and gloom. They prey on people’s worst instincts, creating an atmosphere that is thick with the toxicity of distrust. It’s contagion blows into key aspects of society including politics, media and education, and it spreads confusion over a hurting nation. Church is not exempt from it. If you are the type of person whose disposition leans more towards negativism, then the sinister climate that hangs overhead will simply encourage unbelief.

Personally though, I’m resisting it. In fact, I find myself battling to protect against a pessimistic default. It could be the easiest thing for me to slip into a downward spiral of doom and despair. That’s why I choose my friends very carefully. It is never helpful to keep company with a vibe that panders to the prevailing culture and rolls with it’s hateful jibes. Better to acquaint with faith than fear.

Fear feeds negative culture and starves faith of it’s vitality. Religion loves fear because it provides an opportunity to manipulate and control people. That’s why Jesus reserved his most ferocious words for the religious establishment of his day. They thrived off the power that fear afforded them, playing on people’s anxieties with subtle yet brutal precision. The Pharisees hatred of Jesus was venomous because Jesus exposed their hypocritical legalism and preached a message of freedom instead. His word hasn’t changed. But neither has the spirit of religion.

When we understand the difference between religion and relationship, it changes everything. One controls you. The other empowers you. One holds you back. The other releases you into your God given potential. One leads to hate while the other to love. Interestingly, Jesus was never into religion. His message was totally relational. He came to set us free from the grip of fear, and into the loving embrace of God’s amazing grace. 

In his letter to Timothy, Paul says ‘God has not given us a spirit of fear’ (2 Timothy 1:7). This verse is a massive statement. It tells us something about the culture that God wants us to carry in our everyday lives, and which changes the atmosphere around us. It is FearLESS, not fearful. It is FaithFUL, not faithless. The threat of fear can only be expelled by the power of love. That’s why the bible teaches us that ‘love drives out fear‘ (1 John 4:18). 

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

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

THIS IS A WAKE UP CALL 
by Roy Todd

I’m sure you, like me, have been deeply disturbed by the poisoning incident in Salisbury recently. The method used was a military grade nerve agent – in essence a chemical weapon which could potentially have killed many people. Our thoughts and prayers are for the healing of all those affected, especially a father & daughter who are critically ill in hospital.

The UK government is convinced that the Russian state was behind this serious incident. I trust their judgment. Yet the fact that there are growing numbers of people questioning this conclusion should concern every politician in our nation. A house divided against itself can never stand.

These are serious times which feel very much like a new cold war has descended upon us. What is needed in days like these is…truth. The growing distrust in the integrity of government is devastating to a nation. Any hostile agent can wreak havoc in a culture of deep suspicion. The current British political system with it’s culture of arrogance has done a terrible dis-service to our nation. The Salisbury incident is a serious wake up call. Integrity REALLY matters.

In a sense, the chickens are coming home to roost. The political system in the UK has been in serious trouble for a very long time. I’ve written about this HERE. Recent political campaigns have been filled with lies and ego driven one-upmanship. Take the EU referendum campaign of 2016 for example. The sheer amount of untruthfulness on both sides has had the effect of severely eroding trust. This weakens a nation. It is far more devastating than many politicians seem to grasp. The current situation regarding Russia is a case in point. Just when trust is needed more than ever, this can now be easily undermined.

So how do we, as Christians, respond in times like these? Well, first and foremost, it behoves all of us to live lives of profound integrity. Sounds idealistic, right? But it’s far more gritty than that. It’s about living the truth….even if it hurts. Truth starts with ourselves – not anybody else. In a world of fake news, authenticity is like a refreshing tonic. It’s what builds trust. Furthermore, we do well to remember that the prayers of the righteous are ‘powerful and effective’ (James 5:16). So we pray for our nation and those who lead us. We also call out to God to cause a massive spiritual awakening. I have concluded in my own heart that this is the only answer for a broken society. Our nation needs God’s healing grace like never before. So does our world.

CHECK OUT OUR BRAND NEW NOTTINGHAM CHURCH HERE.

church nottingham

HOW HUNGRY ARE YOU? 
by Roy Todd

Many years ago, I spent some time teaching at churches and colleges in India. After one particularly rough bout of illness which lasted a couple of days, we got on the road again to speak at an event that evening. En route, I was powerfully overcome with hunger the like of which I’ve never experienced before. My body craved food to the point of desperation since I hadn’t eaten for the past 48 hours. Strangely enough, I really fancied a slice of pizza. But in rural India, there’s never a pizza joint around when you need one…at least that’s what I thought. Yet as we drove along that lonely country bypass, suddenly in the distance a sign appeared which looked like it said ‘PIZZA HUT’. I seriously wondered if I was just hallucinating at first. But true enough, it was an actual pizza restaurant. I quickly requested the driver to pull in…and all I can say is that I consumed the finest slice of the round stuff I’ve ever eaten in my life. My gosh it was good!

Hunger is a powerful feeling. It alerts us to what we need. Jesus spoke about hunger in his famous ‘beatitudes’. He said ‘Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.’ (Matt 5:6).

When you’re physically hungry, you don’t have to be told to eat. No, you actively search for food. The same is true for spiritual hunger. I believe God is looking for a generation who are hungry enough to seek him, to serve his purpose, to grow in faith and to make a difference. 

Apathy is the sign of a lack of hunger. It has no appetite and is therefore uninterested in experiencing real fulfilment. It disengages from seeking because it is self-satisfied. There’s nothing more uninspiring than being in a culture which has no interest in seeing more.

At the Junction Church, I don’t ever want us to become apathetic. I really like being around people who have a hunger to learn and develop. It’s the most refreshing thing to do life with those who are really hungry for growth. That’s the kind of environment where fulfilment is found.

As we start out on a brand new year, my prayer is that we will experience a greater  hunger than ever before to see our towns and cities impacted with the life giving power of the gospel. I’m hungry to see more salvations, more healings, more miracles, more breakthrough’s. How about you?

Jesus promises that those who hunger for what’s right will not only be blessed, but they’ll be fulfilled. How hungry are you?

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE.

church nottingham

FOR OR AGAINST? 
by Roy Todd

It’s far better to define yourself by what you’re for rather than against. There are plenty of negative voices out there which can effortlessly articulate what they dislike. But people who make a real difference in life contribute to solutions rather than complaining about ‘problems’.

Simply being against stuff is not only unhelpful, but it’s profoundly lazy and extremely unproductive. You see, any fool can criticise. There’s nothing brilliant about offering strong opinions from the aloofness of a sedentary position. In the end though, the question we are wise to ask ourselves is; what are we doing to make things better? 

At the Junction Church, our heart is to create an environment that is positive and encouraging. Having served in churches for over 20 years, I am only too aware of how negative and cynical God’s children can sometimes become. This is nothing new. Even in the Old Testament after Moses led God’s people to deliverance from the oppression of Egypt, there was grumbling and murmuring. Yet it should never be this way. Church ought to be the most positive, upbeat, faith building, hope restoring & life giving community around.

Being defined by what you’re against immediately establishes negative vibes around your life. Ultimately, you can’t lovingly build anything better when what you hate forms your outlook. This will always lead to a downbeat pessimism which does nothing to inspire faith. If you find that this is your default setting in life, then how about resetting your heart to focus on what you’re FOR? Just one degree of difference changes everything. Instead of being anti, suddenly you find yourself being being pro…for hope, for encouraging, for celebrating others, for reaching people with the greatest news on the planet, for doing whatever it takes to help others….the list goes on.

So…are you a for or against kind of person? I strongly encourage you to embrace the former. It will make a world of difference to your year.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM LAUNCHING WITH LIFE GROUPS IN 2018.

church nottingham

BUILDING TRUST  
by Roy Todd

The most precious commodity in any relationship is…trust. When it is strong, magnificent feats can be accomplished. When it is weak, suspicion reigns and progress is hindered. The thing is, trust is something that needs to be built with intentionality. Here are five ways to construct it around your life.

Speak Life

This means avoiding gossip, a vice that poses as harmless chatter but is one of the most destructive forces to healthy relationships. It feeds suspicion, encourages fear and stirs distrust. Be assured, whoever gossips to you will also gossip about you. Resist it with all your heart. Choose to believe the best of others, not the worst. Speak life…always. That’s how you build trust (Prov 11:13).

Be honest

Ambiguity may maintain the status quo for a while. However, it ultimately kills trust. When people don’t know where they really stand, this does nothing for the health and strength of friendships. It’s always better to be graciously honest and vulnerable. Proverbs 23:23 says ‘Buy the truth and do not sell it‘. This is what healthy relationships are built upon.

Stay faithful

In a world where so many just seem to easily give up on each other, faithfulness is like pure gold. It’s what builds longevity into relationships, creating trust over the long term and proving commitment through the diverse seasons of life. God values it very highly (Matt 25:23). We should too.

Serve selflessly

Jesus defined greatness as servanthood (Matt 23:11). This means we don’t ever need position to serve. Nor do we need to be motivated or persuaded by some ulterior motive. Selflessness is one of the most powerful ways to build trust. It serves and serves and serves, without thought for itself. This is what Paul meant when he spoke about ‘honouring others above yourselves‘. (Rom 12:10). It’s the foundation on which trust is established.

Receive correction

How we respond to correction is a statement of our heart. Pride resists it. Humility receives it, even if it’s measure is unpleasant. In the end, a teachable spirit enables trust to be built and love to be established. Everyone has something to learn. Proverbs 29:1 tells us that resistance to reproof is something which breaks trust beyond healing. That’s why it’s wise to receive correction well.

Building trust can’t be rushed. It takes time. But it is totally worth it in the long term. 

Check out the Junction Church Nottingham HERE.