church leicester

5 THINGS THAT KILL HEALTHY CULTURE
by Roy Todd

Everyone loves the idea of being part of a healthy & vibrant church. But remember this: great churches don’t just happen. They need to be carefully crafted and cultivated on the values of God’s Kingdom. Without this intentional focus, the best case scenario might be mediocrity. Worse still, toxicity develops where growth gets crushed and negativism rules the day.

Our heart for the Junction Church is to ensure healthy culture pervades everything we do. Leading church is a bit like a gardener weeding the soil so the plants can bloom. Yup, it can be thankless & inconvenient at times – but this is a small price to pay compared to the joy of seeing people flourishing in an environment of faith and becoming everything they can be.

Here are 5 things that kill healthy culture:

ASSUMPTION

This is the mistaken idea that healthy culture just happens. Nothing could be further from the truth. A culture of assumption eventually leads to a fruitless environment where nothing gets done and blame abounds. The way to protect against it is thoughtfulness & careful communication. ‘How can I serve?” is always a good question.

COMPLACENCY

Healthy culture will always ask ‘how can we get better?’. Meanwhile, a culture of complacency says ‘This is great. We’ve made it’. With the latter, the moment we think we’ve ‘made it’ is the surest sign yet that we haven’t. Complacency is the silent killer of great culture.

DISTRACTION

It was Paul Scanlon who said ‘Church is a bit like a bus – people get on and people get off.‘ Healthy culture is profoundly relaxed about this. Unhealthy culture isn’t. So during times of coming and going, the latter becomes distracted rather than maintaining a focused commitment on the long term. Point is, if you build healthy culture, more people will come. It’s inevitable. Always beware of weapons of mass distraction.

GOSSIP

How many offices are smothered by the toxicity of gossip? How many relationships have been undermined by careless whispers? Guess what….gossip knows no bounds. How many churches are filled with the stench of internal politicking? Wise people protect against it. It’s an endless cycle. Sow gossip, reap gossip. Sow encouragement, reap encouragement. At the Junction Church, we’re going for encouragement.

ENTITLEMENT

This is best demonstrated in the story of the prodigal son. When the son returned home, his elder brother refused to celebrate the Father’s grace in his younger siblings life. He felt threatened by him. This illustrates a culture of entitlement that panders to selfishness and refuses to celebrate others. Healthy culture is the very opposite – filled with people who serve faithfully but who are willing to be flexible so others can shine too. They know their identity is in who they are in Christ – not in what they do. When everyone gets a revelation of this, everybody wins.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

church leicester

HE SETS ASIDE THE FIRST

Hebrews 10:9 says, ‘He sets aside the first to establish the second’. The context of this verse is to do with a transition from the old testament to the new. Old covenant law could not save us, only God’s grace can do that. So Christ came to establish a better way and this is essentially what the book of Hebrews is all about.

Yet there is something profoundly relevant about this particular phrase, especially when you’re transitioning from one season into another. Looking back, no doubt the past will have had moments of joy you celebrated as well as challenges you’ve had to negotiate. However, whatever has gone before, a new season is a time to set aside the past in order to move forward into the future. Time doesn’t wait for anybody. As much as there’s wisdom in learning lessons from the tougher experiences, it’s never wise to spend too long ruminating over them. The latter tends to exaggerate challenging seasons above what they deserve and can develop into an unhealthy obsession.

Setting aside the past requires grace and humility. It means some things need to be left behind. Here are a few of them:

Hurts – There’s an old saying which says that ‘hurt people hurt people‘. So no point carrying hurts with you into the future. Ask God to give you a grace to forgive, just as He did with you. There’s freedom in forgiveness.

Disappointments – So ok, maybe some things didn’t work out for you as you’d hoped. Learn what you can from them and let go. There are new opportunities ahead.

Grievances – Victim thinking is one of the most limiting & faith destroying things that can fester in a person’s life. The enemy wants you to hold on to it. God wants you to let go. Guess who has your best interests at heart? Better to let go then.

Attitudes – Let go of stinking thinking. In other words, attitudes you might have developed that are dishonouring and damaging. Read Phil 2:5-11 to find out about the kind of attitude God wants us to develop.

Cynicism – This is a nasty mind filter which contaminates thoughts, words and actions. Cynicism gives up on others very quickly, judging them and condemning them without grace and compassion. Let go of this before it develops any further. It’s seriously bad for your faith.

Failures – Remember, failure is not the end. If you’ve still got breath in your being, then there’s hope for you. Get up, freshen yourself and start again. Be sure not to wallow in self pity.

God has a plan. Our job, as Christians, is to follow Him. He knows what He is doing. Don’t let past issues determine your future. When this happens, it becomes a hindrance to the joy of today and the blessing of tomorrow. A new season is a time to resolve in your heart that the old has gone and the new has come. God has set aside the first in order to establish the second. Therefore lean totally into His grace. This is all you really need. 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE AND OUR CHURCH IN LOUGHBOROUGH HERE

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FATHERHOOD 
by Roy Todd

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START WELL – FINISH WELL
by Roy Todd

church leicesterIt’s good to start well – but it’s even better to finish well. The way you transition from one season to another determines HOW you enter that new season of your life. That’s why it is wise to be resolute in honouring the things which really matter, especially relationships. It’s never healthy to view other people as commodities who can be dispensed with should they no longer seem useful. This undermines the value which God places on people and creates a state of heart that can easily develop into a culture of hardness, hopelessness & even hatred.

In seasonal transitions, it’s far better to cherish those who God has placed in your life, treating them with Godly honour in every decision you make, even when it gets tough. You won’t regret it in the long run, that’s for sure.

At this time of year when lots of people make new year resolutions, perhaps some less elaborate aspirations wouldn’t go amiss (one’s you won’t forget by March!). For example, how about determining in your heart that whatever you start this year, you will finish well? This is a truly noble aim.

In a sense, good starts are easy. Everything feels fresh and clean at the beginning. But as time goes on, the freshness wanes and circumstances can become a bit messy. This is where honour needs to kick in. Nothing spoils a good start more than a bad finish. It’s always honourable to finish well.

Hebrews 12:1-3 says ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross,scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.’

Jesus sets the example of what it truly means to start well and finish well. Lets learn from it. Believing the BEST for you and your family in 2017!

 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE AND OUR CHURCH IN LOUGHBOROUGH HERE.

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A QUESTION EVERY CHURCH MUST ADDRESS
by Roy Todd

A few years ago, I was invited to spend a day with the leadership of a large, well established church. In a spirit of openness and transparency, they invited me to speak into the life of their community & ask any question I felt appropriate – a courageous thing for leaders to do. So I proceeded to enquire about the programme, the finances, the team, the schedule, the ministries, the future….the list went on. So far so good.

Then came a key question….’How many people have become followers of Jesus during the past year through the life of this church?’ There was a hushed silence and some thoughtful frowns – but no answer was forth coming. When I asked the question again, this time there was a kind of mumbled conversation that ensued until someone eventually suggested that it wasn’t really ‘our thing’ to keep such records. For me, this reply was a statement in itself which needed addressing. After some further gentle prodding, it was estimated that only around 10 people had come to faith that year with just a small number of those people being baptised.

What transpired was a good church led by good people with some excellent programmes….but lacking an intentional focus to see non-Christian friends & family coming to faith in Jesus. I suspect this is the case with many churches. The very notion that any Christian community should ever be satisfied with seeing low numbers of people embarking on the journey to follow Christ is simply not good enough. 

The thing is…virtually every church will say they want to see more people coming to faith in Christ. However, the sticking point happens when this challenges the programme. In other words…if winning people for Jesus genuinely becomes a significant focus in the life of a local church, then the way things are done comes into sharp question and challenge – including services, terminology, structure, teaching themes, financial giving, ministries etc etc. They all need to honestly face up to the question: ‘Is this going to help people come to faith?’

Often, an unhealthy consumer mentality can creep into church culture that’s attractive to some Christians but which makes no connection with people who aren’t yet believers. Ironically, it’s often the most theologically astute churches which are most susceptible to this. Their focus on offering verse by verse expositional teaching, fine spiritual dining and an intellectually stimulating experience actually ends up doing far more harm than good, producing inactive Christians who crave comfort, enjoy insularity and who become resistant to change.

Of course, every church should offer great teaching, worship, programmes and the rest. But each of these need to be prefaced with that one simple question: ‘Will this help people come to faith in Jesus?’.

Anyway, back to the church I visited a few years ago. My question profoundly challenged it’s leaders and they went on to re-examine their entire schedule. They intentionally factored in a commitment to reaching people for Christ in everything they did and my gosh did it make a difference. I was honoured to speak at that same church a year later and on just one Sunday morning, over 50 people responded to the call to follow Jesus. The church has grown significantly since – and they’re now faced with some new challenges…or as one of the leaders put it to me… ‘wonderful challenges’.

At the Junction Church Leicester & Loughborough, we are absolutely committed to winning more people – because we love people. It was encouraging last year to see around 200 people making decisions to follow Christ. But this is just the start. We have much to do and we must never become complacent.

Whatever it takes to reach a generation, we’re up for it.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE AND THE JUNCTION CHURCH LOUGHBOROUGH HERE.

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GRASS ISN’T GREENER ON THE OTHER SIDE
by Roy Todd

There’s an old saying which says that ‘the grass is always greener on the other side.’ Problem is…if you travel to ‘the other side’, you’ll soon discover that the green stuff isn’t really grass. It’s actually astroturf. It’s not real. It’s fake. It’s boring. It’s unfulfilling. You can’t grow there. When you’ve been on ‘the other side’ for a while, it doesn’t take too long before you start to reminisce and look back to… ‘the other side’, remembering those good old days when you enjoyed the joys of authentic green grass where you could actually grow.

‘Other side’ thinking is never helpful. It stems from unhealthy comparisons which reveal more about the insecurities of our heart than the challenges of our circumstances. The enemy can do great damage in the confusion of warped thinking like that.

Now for the truth. The grass will always be greenest where YOU choose to stay and grow it. This is why it’s important to get firmly planted in God’s house. It’s the only way you’ll ever experience real growth. Being planted is a natural principle. It’s also a spiritual principle too. It’s a long term commitment rather than a short term fix.

One of the things that will kill your spiritual health is panic. This is the result of allowing a false sense of perspective to invade your thinking. It focuses on what seems wrong. It obsesses over what you don’t have. It guilts and goads you, making you feel inadequate and full of failure. It adds a stress to your life that is unfair, unnecessary and unhelpful. It robs you of the joy of what God has blessed you with.

When panic sets in, it corrupts your thinking. It’s assumption is that another garden will be better for you. So an uprooting process takes place. It’s not instant. It takes a while. There’s a gradual shifting that happens in the heart. But eventually, it occurs fully. And so the search for greener grass goes on. Meanwhile, all that energy, time and passion you’d previously invested in the ‘old’ garden – it has become rootless and disconnected from the future of the garden. Problem is….that ‘old’ garden grows healthier and healthier. Then it flourishes and blooms. It eventually becomes a magnificent landscape admired by all who see it – a place where life and growth abound. Suddenly a revelation dawns….the enemy had lied after all. The grass wasn’t better on the other side. It was perfectly healthy where you were.

The enemy loves to feed insecurity and doubt. That’s why it’s important to have people around you who are themselves firmly planted in God’s house – who dare to speak the encouragement of God’s word into your life – who don’t pander to negativism – who challenge unbelief and provoke you to trust God. Nothing crushes the devil’s scheming more than a community full of people like this.

Hold your nerve. If you will keep tilling the ground around you and continue laying foundations of faith, hope & love, you WILL flourish…right where you are.

 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE AND THE JUNCTION CHURCH LOUGHBOROUGH HERE.

WORDS
by Roy Todd

WORDS. They have the potential to do great good. But when spoken unwisely, they can cause terrible hurt.

When the apostle James wrote in his letter about the power of the tongue, this was before the era of social media. But no doubt the same principle applies to the words we write as well as speak. James urges us to think carefully before we use words (James 3:5). His epistle is worth a read.

Jesus also challenges us to take care in our use of words. He says in Matthew 12:36 “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.” This is an incredibly sobering thought – that one day, we will all give account for our words (conversations, tweets, statuses, instagram posts etc), even the thoughtless ones. That’s why it’s better to use words to build up rather than pull down.

Thing is, once they’re spoken (or written), we can never get our words back.

There’s a story about a rabbi who slandered another rabbi because he was jealous of his apparent ‘success’. This resulted in his colleague having to leave town over something which simply wasn’t true or fair. Many years later, the perpetrator of the slanderous rumour found out that he had a terminal illness. Wanting to make amends before his passing, he confessed to a senior rabbi the untruth he’d said about his colleague. Asked what he should now do, the senior rabbi took a feather pillow case, opened the window and proceeded to rip it outside the room. He then asked his junior colleague to go and retrieve all the feathers. ‘It’s impossible. You know I can’t’ said the junior rabbi. “Yes,” said the senior rabbi, “that is how it is: once a word leaves your mouth, it flies on the wings of the wind, and you can never get it back” He then strongly encouraged the junior rabbi to urgently seek the forgiveness of his former colleague.

It’s an old story…but the principle is true. You can never get your words back. That’s why it’s always better to use them in a way that builds up rather than pulls down. An unwise word spoken (or written) in the heat of a moment might make you feel better in the short term – but it’s long term damage is usually felt just at the time when you regret having spoken it. How many relationships have been undermined by careless words? 

It’s always better to talk well of people. To speak faithfully and loyally of others is to build trust and confidence. Speak kindly. Speak generously. Speak lovingly. Speak graciously. Speak honourably. You’ll never regret it.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE

WHAT ABOUT MONDAY?
by Roy Todd

No-matter how sacred a church service on Sunday might be, if it doesn’t relate to life on Monday, then something is very wrong. There’s no point in putting it any other way. In this case, church becomes a niche market that a few might like – but which is far removed from the normal day to day life of ordinary people. This is not how Jesus ever intended things to be. His message was NEVER meant to be niche. It’s nation shaking!!

Study his words carefully (in some Bible’s they’re written in red) and you’ll discover why crowds of thousands came to hear Jesus speak. It wasn’t because they had nothing else better to do. These were busy people, many of them would have been running their own businesses (the culture was incredibly entrepreneurial). They didn’t turn up in huge numbers because he satisfied a thirst for intellectual stimulation either. Nor did he speak in irrelevant terms which bore no resemblance to the pressures of everyday life. The very opposite happened. Jesus told incredibly down to earth stories using up to date illustrations. They were so good that kids loved listening too (children don’t listen to boring speakers!). He challenged the pretentious religiosity of the Pharisee’s and was even willing to be misunderstood, getting himself a reputation as ‘a friend of sinners’. Interestingly, this was a term that was intended as a slander against Jesus by the religious establishment but which actually proved an unwitting compliment. The sinners loved hanging out with Jesus – not because he approved of their lifestyle but because he was able to show them a better way. People related to Jesus then and they should be able to connect with church TODAY!

However, Christians can sometimes talk in jargon terms about ‘mission’ and ‘fresh expressions’ – and yet the strange irony is that there can be a suspicion and even criticism against anything that resembles change. We must always be careful (Junction Church included) that we don’t love our ways more than we love our world. If the latter is true for us, then we will do whatever it takes to reach people – even if that means completely changing the focus of our Sunday services. Archbishop Temple was right when he said ‘The Church is the only organisation that does not exist for itself, but for those who live outside of it’

It’s our heart at the Junction Church in Leicester and Loughborough that everything we do will relate to every day life. When preparing to speak on a Sunday, one of the main questions on my mind is always ‘What about Monday?”. In other words, how does this message apply in real life? What about the normal day to day stuff? How does faith work there?

Faith needs to be gritty and real, not fake and surreal. Yet in it’s beautiful vulnerability, there’s a powerful vibe of hope – something which our world desperately needs.

Hey, turns out that reaching out to those who don’t yet follow Jesus is not that complicated after all. It’s about being real. It’s about taking people on the journey of how it all works on Monday. Just watch what happens…

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

church leicester

KEEPING IT REAL IN A WORLD OF FAKE
by Roy Todd

A few years ago, I bought what I thought was a high quality watch from a street market stall in New York (yes, ok I know….I was an ejit for getting it). Pleased with my purchase, I proceeded to wear it and show it off with great pride. However within a week, said watch had literally fallen to pieces. It was a cheap imitation of the real thing and I’d been ripped off!!

Cheap imitations never last. Truth is, we live in a world of fake. It’s not just about the dreaded fake news. There are fake relationships, fake appearances, fake lives, fake identities…there is a lot of fakery out there. What’s interesting is how a generation has caught onto it. There is a desperate desire among them for reality. This is one of the reasons I love this generation so much.

However, in a world of fake, we must be sure never to assume that ‘negative’ is real. It can be so easy to revert to the safe ground of cynicism as a way of protecting ourselves against all the falsity we encounter. But the problem is that negativity is also fake. You see, it’s the cheap imitation of ‘honesty’. But it’s not honest.

Negativity is harsh and judgmental. It forms a biased opinion against others without basis or foundation. It’s like a form of predjudice – suspicious, uncaring and unreal. It’s also intrinsically selfish, protecting it’s own self interest instead of pursuing what is right. It is lazy and sloppy, the most convenient route for a distrustful heart to take. But it’s cumulative fallout is huge – and a culture of low trust will always be it’s consequence, something which is never to the advantage of our world.

As Christians, this poses a dilemma for us. After all, we are people of faith. So do we too make negativity our default reaction to all the falseness in the world? It’s all well and good to say that we are believers in God and not in people, but this is utterly flawed thinking. Faith in God will always lead to faith in people – ALWAYS. It’s the faith that people can experience God’s love, the faith that they can live with purpose, the faith that people are valuable, the faith that God can work in people despite the shallow fakery of their lives, the faith that no-matter how messed up someone’s life is, there is hope.

So how do you stay real in a fake world? Faith IS the answer. It’s the only answer. It’s gritty. It’s messy. It’s earthy. It pays a price. Faith is the carrier of God’s greatest gift to our world – ‘love’. Never stop believing.

 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER

church loughborough

FOUR YEARS ON…
by Roy Todd

Four years ago, the Junction Church in Loughborough had it’s first ever Sunday service in screen 3 of the Odeon cinema. Before the launch, I’ll never forget being contacted by a crew from East Midlands Today (our local BBC TV station). The reporter (who has since gone on to become a senior political correspondent with the BBC) expressed to me her genuine intrigue at the idea of a church that met in a cinema. So we gave them permission to film on the day. Their short report included interviews with random people in the congregation (who to this day I have no idea who most of them were), all of them saying how much they enjoyed the service! See the report at the bottom of this page.

Four years on, and the Junction Church Loughborough now meets in a newly built state of the art theatre in Loughborough College. It was packed to the back rows last Sunday, filled with an atmosphere of faith, hope and love – three things which our world is in desperate need of at the moment.

In the four years since we first met, it has been sad to observe increasing levels of division in politics, media and in society at large. As a church, our role is to bring hope. We’re not here to judge. We’re not here to condemn. We’re not here to preach against stuff. We are FOR people. We are FOR Loughborough. We are FOR hope. We are FOR those who feel left behind. We are FOR people’s hopes and dreams. We know we’re not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. We make mistakes. We don’t always get it right. But the heart of everything we do is to help people fulfil their God given potential. That’s what motivates us to do what we do.

So what about the future? Well, despite the increasing sense of doom and gloom in our world, we are daring to believe that the BEST is yet to come. The message of Jesus is as relevant today as it has ever been. That’s what we are determined to stay true to.

Lydia and I are so grateful for all the encouragement we’ve received over the past four years from INCREDIBLE people in our church. We love you more than our words can express and we’re SOOO excited for these next four years (and beyond). Happy birthday Junction Church!!

 

church leicester

THE OTHER SIDE OF ME
by Roy Todd

Ever wonder what it must be like to be on the other side of you? 

While it’s never good to be self obsessed, it’s always wise to be self aware. The latter helps us be considerate to others and is a good way of keeping our ego in check.

Very often, the reason why relationships can be compromised is because of thoughtlessness regarding the consequences of our words and actions. Self obsession tends only to look out for it’s own interests. Self awareness looks out for the interests of those we do life with. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul the apostle encourages us to… ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.’ (Philippians 2:3-4).

So how can we develop better self awareness? Well, one of the most helpful questions all of us can ask ourselves in this regard is this: ‘What is it like to be on the other side of me?‘ It takes real courage to ask a question like this. In other words, what’s it like to be on the receiving end of my quirks, my attitudes, my words, my frustrations, my anger, my practices…the list goes on. The answer to this is incredibly insightful.

It would be good to ask yourself this question regularly. Better still, get a good friend who you trust to give you their answer – and allow them the right to be completely honest & transparent with you. You may be pleasantly surprised at some of their observations. You might also be profoundly shocked at some of them too. But the latter is important.

Truth is…all of us have blind sides which we need help with identifying in our lives. I was recently driving along the outside lane of the M1 when a car in the middle lane suddenly pulled right out in front of me. In that moment, I had the presence of mind to slam the brake on and avoid a collision. Thankfully there was no traffic immediately behind me, otherwise there would have been a smash up. So what was the problem? The driver who drove in front of me hadn’t noticed my car because it was in their blind side. They’d made an assumption that it was going to be ok to just pull out. But assumptions are always dangerous.

So back to the question. ‘What’s it like on the other side of me?’ I dare you to take some steps that will help you address your blind sides. It could revolutionise your life.

 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER!