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.
Leadership in any sphere of life can be a lonely experience. It’s not that a leader isn’t surrounded by amazing people. No, it’s that the buck must stop somewhere. This is where true leaders step up.
In the late 1970’s, there was a British Prime Minister called Jim Callaghan. He was a decent man with a chirpy demeanour who the tabloid media nick-named ‘Sunny Jim’. Yet behind the seemingly relaxed exterior was a burdened soul who carried the weight of heavy criticism. Many historians today accept that Callaghan was unfairly blamed for a national crisis. During his twice weekly performance at Prime Ministers Questions (an unforgiving environment at the best of times), he always asked his wife Audrey to accompany him. She would sit in the public gallery and Jim would regularly look up to her for comfort and reassurance. You see, she was the one person who came anywhere close to grasping the loneliness of what he had to bear.
In the good times, leaders resist credit and instead share it with others. In the tough times, leaders get out onto the front line and embrace responsibility, often receiving far more flack than they deserve. Yet any leader worth their salt will never complain about this apparent injustice. They simply accept it as part of the price a leader must pay. The worst kind of leadership is that which deflects and blames others. This produces toxic culture which eventually ends up with an implosion of trust. People will never flourish in an environment like that.
If you should aspire to leadership in life, my advice is to quickly ditch any notions of privilege and position. Leadership is lonely. No-matter how prestigious others think it might appear, you will rarely ‘feel’ it. But you will be all too aware of how vulnerable and weak you are. Criticism will come at an incredibly fast pace. Thats why faithfulness matters. In our weakness, Christ’s strength is made perfect.
The ultimate example of leadership is Jesus. He held no position and occupied no office. Instead, he made himself of no reputation and carried a servant heart (Phil 2:5-11). He embraced the responsibility of our sin and covered the cost, a travesty of justice which he bore with grace and love. Despite the loneliness and misunderstanding, Jesus went all the way. This is REAL leadership.
Check out our very LATEST campus – the Junction Church Nottingham here.
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.
People sometimes ask me ‘how can I pray for you?‘. Truth is, every church leader needs all the prayer they can possibly get. It is both a massive joy to pastor a church, but it can also be an incredibly vulnerable experience too.
The latter might sound surprising. But when your head is above that parapet, you’re immediately exposed to the harsh winds of critique & the raw edge of judgment. I guess that’s just par for the course in any form of leadership in life…yet in church leadership it carries the added dynamic of spiritual experience and emotional investment. Meanwhile as a church leader, you’re all too aware of your own flaws. They are out there for all to see and this is something which needs to be managed with humility & grace. After all, leaders are imperfect humans who don’t always get it right. Yet, the bible is clear that part of the role of spiritual leadership is to protect God’s church against unhelpful influences. This presents a tension which every pastor must manage between doing what you believe is right – and knowing that the heart behind this might be misunderstood. Ultimately, it’s God to whom leaders are accountable, and this sobering reflection concentrates the mind more than anything else.
Any good shepherd will always watch out for wolves who pose as sheep. With deceptive charm and cunning subtlety, they pursue personal agenda’s, slowly turning good people against each other and creating division. In the first few years of pioneering the Junction Church, we encountered this challenge. I must be honest, I didn’t even always see it. Truth is, a fledgling community could easily have been devoured. But it is amazing how the Holy Spirit helps. I have no doubt there were people praying for me, and God graciously answered their prayers.
So if you want to pray specifically for your pastor, here are four key things to ask God to give:
1) Wisdom to see what God sees
2) Discernment to hear what God says
3) Courage to stand firm during the challenges
4) Grace to keep moving forward into God’s purpose
Remember, prayer works. So be intentional about it!!
BE SURE TO CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE….COMING SOON.
We’re excited about what is happening in the Junction Church. In just five years, the church has grown to become a thriving community made up of over 30 nationalities, dynamic Sunday services in Loughborough & Leicester, and around 20 Life Groups which meet throughout the week.
If you’d like to listen to our most recent Vision Day talk, here it is below. Further down the page are the bullet points of everything it covers. Want to get involved? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
VISION DAY UPDATE
Some key developments over the past year
– The Junction Church has grown by over 25%
– New campus in Leicester city centre which is doing really well
– Summer Madness (social action programme)
– First album released
– 350 decisions to follow Christ
– Dozens baptised
– Campus coordinator employed for one day per week
– Church suite (app) launched last January
Some of our key ministries in the Junction Church
– Brotherhood (men’s ministry)
– Sisterhood (woman’s ministry)
– Junction Kids
– MVMNT youth
– Equip (teaching ministry)
– Worship team
– Media Team
– Young Professionals
– Reach Team
– Prayer Team
– Encounter Team
– v3 conference 2017 (11-12 nov)
– christmas 2017 (all Sundays in December)
– easter (Fri 30th March – Sunday 1st April)
– hillsong conference (wed 25th – fri 27th july)
– v3 conference 2018 (sat 10th – sun 11th nov)
Key vision goals for 2018
– grow healthy leaders
– grow healthy life groups
– grow healthy sunday services
– grow healthy community
– grow healthy culture
– grow healthy teams
– grow healthy ministries
– grow healthy resources
– grow healthy campuses
– grow healthy church
Key vision goals over next two years
– employ people to serve in church
– junction church academy (internship) (sept ’19)
– new mid week life group in Nottingham (sept ’18)
– transition Leicester to sunday morning (sept ’19)
– pioneer sunday The Junction Church Nottingham (sept ’19)
More about our Nottingham Church HERE.
FINANCE (FOR STAFF & RESOURCES)
– CAMPUS COORDINATOR
– STUDENTS & YOUNG ADULTS COORDINATOR
– KIDS COORDINATOR
– YOUTH COORDINAtOR
– EQUIPMENT (E.G. TABLETS, KIDS WORK)
– PA– VAN HIRE
– VENUE HIRE
– HQ & OFFICES
SUNDAY 19TH NOVEMBER
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John Maxwell once observed that ‘everything rises or falls on leadership’. True as that is though, it’s one thing to know the theory of leadership – but quite something else to actually show leadership. In the Church, leadership starts and ends with love – the kind that works it’s butt off so that others can rise to fulfil their God given potential.
Bad leadership is selfish, indecisive and lazy, only doing that which is convenient and self serving. It is mainly interested in competing for power and position without carrying the real weight of responsibility. However, this ultimately creates unhealthy culture which eventually drives good people away. After all, who wants to be around that?
Good leadership is about quietly getting on with it – high capacity, low maintenance, profoundly secure, developing strong initiative, resolving to learn & get better, reading the road ahead, spotting the potential pitfalls, steering away from pointless crisis & creating an environment where people can flourish.
In essence, the less noticed the leader is, the better the leader. You see, its behind the scenes where great leaders cultivate great culture. They’re not looking for adulation or applause (only insecure ego’s search for that). The best leaders have a ‘just get on with it’ mindset and they are the living example of everything they speak about. They ai for excellence and do it with gladness because the cause they live for is far bigger than themselves.
This is the kind of leadership we’re passionate about raising up at the Junction Church – gritty, real, creative, high calibre & committed to growing. It loves people enough to build an environment where others can prosper. The ultimate example of this kind of leadership? Jesus. He is our inspiration.
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER AND THE JUNCTION CHURCH LOUGHBOROUGH.
Here are two quick stories which both illustrate great leadership…
1) During WW2, a new British general appeared on the scene who was unconventional in comparison to his predecessors. General Montgomery was largely disliked by the establishment – but deeply loved by his troops. The reason for both reactions was largely the same. Instead of being a theorist on the back lines, he insisted on leading from the front lines. Monty (as he was affectionately known) would travel from trench to trench and spend time chatting to his men, asking them questions about their wellbeing, enquiring how their families were and encouraging them in battle. It is said that Monty’s front line leadership boosted the morale of the British army and was a significant factor in their victory.
Great leadership is not about sending troops into battle. It’s about leading the way with courage and bravery.
2) When I first started out in ministry at the age of 21, a man called Paul Weaver (then leader of the Assemblies of God) was a great encouragement to me. One day, he asked me for my preaching schedule and promised that he’d come and support me. I was amazed that a man like this with such a significant ministry would even contemplate such a thing let alone do it. The very sentiment was a boost to me! But true to his word, I happened to be speaking at a little church in a rough housing estate one night – and without any advance notice, in came Paul Weaver. He’d travelled quite a distance just to be there and when he arrived, he sat on the third row – but acted like was on the front row, encouraging me, cheering me on & willing me to do well. I can’t begin to explain what that did for my confidence as a young guy just launching out in ministry.
This man’s front line encouragement meant more to me than all the leadership training sessions in the world. He got out there and championed one of his own.
Far too many people in this world want power and position without the pressure of responsibility. But great leadership is about getting out there, loving people, serving on the front lines, championing others, feeling their pain, embracing discomfort, taking some risks and selflessly willing people to succeed. THIS is great leadership.
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LOUGHBOROUGH AND THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LEICESTER HERE.
Lets talk about Jesus (my favourite subject!). He is the most compelling person the world has ever encountered. During his ministry, people flocked to listen to him.
Here are 7 reasons why he was so compelling…
1. He spoke “as one who had authority’
In other words, Jesus knew what he was talking about. This was unlike the confused message of the religious establishment who were all over the place. Yet in a world of confusion, his voice was crystal clear. Read more about this in Matthew 7:28-29.
2. He was relevant to people’s lives
The religious establishment tried to smear Jesus as a “friend of sinners” (Luke 7:34). But it unwittingly emphasised just how completely relevant he was (and how irrelevant they were). Jesus was a man of the people. He spoke a language they knew. They respected that.
3. He connected with people
For example, Luke 19:1-10 tells the story of Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector. This man was as corrupt as they get. Yet when Jesus met him, he didn’t harshly confront him. Instead, he spent time with him. It must have been a compelling conversation as Zacchaeus emerged with a resolve to give his wealth to the poor and repay those he’d swindled. Result.
4. He was a great story teller
Jesus spent much of his time communicating through stories. Luke 15 is a great example of this. The religious establishment dismissed this as shallow and lacking substance. But they had no idea how to relate to people. Jesus did. People connect with people before they connect with truth.
5. He empathised with people’s needs
You can see this in Matthew 8:3. Here, Jesus met a leper. During their conversation, he reached out and touched the sick man. This was an act of immense compassion by Jesus. After all, who would take the risk of touching diseased skin? Jesus did. He showed massive empathy, coming alongside a man in desperate need.
6. He was vulnerable
The shortest verse in the Bible is in John 11:35. It says “Jesus wept”. This was because his good friend Lazarus had died. Such a public expression of emotion was a demonstration that Jesus was profoundly touched by grief. He wasn’t cold and clinical. His vulnerability was actually a sign of strength. (READ A BLOG ABOUT THIS HERE)
7. He understood the power of appropriate silence
In John 8:1-11, the religious establishment confronted Jesus with the case of a woman caught in adultery. His response? Silence. Then, in a moment that could have been academy award winning, he invited any Pharisee who was without sin to be the first to throw a stone. They left. But Jesus stayed….cos that’s what Jesus does. (READ A BLOG ABOUT THIS HERE)
Read the Gospels for yourself, and you’ll see that religion was the enemy of everything Jesus was about. It still is. Jesus heart was warm and gracious towards people…and he was relevant to their lives. We could learn much from Jesus.
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE AND OUR CHURCH IN LOUGHBOROUGH HERE.
Anyone who is willing to raise their head above the parapet and be subjected to intense public scrutiny is worthy of respect. Yet, as our nation finds itself facing one crisis after another, it is genuinely concerning to observe how febrile the political culture has become. This creates a growing sense of marginalisation where any alternative viewpoint is derided with scorn – and a road ahead which presents some very real challenges for democracy.
An unhealthy political system is what lies at the heart of the problem, not democracy itself. It is egotistical, self indulgent, self righteous and antagonistic. Take a look at social media and you can often see this up close and personal. Hate filled put downs are what are increasingly passing for political discourse. Gracious discussion and measured reasoning are becoming less and less common, giving way to the spectacle of wild hysteria and yobbish behaviour. It seems that it is easier to smear an opponent’s character than engage in civil conversation. As Eleanor Roosevelt once observed, ‘Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.‘
It is difficult to recall ever having witnessed such incendiary politics in our nation. Any attempt to silence those who might hold a different point of view will concern everyone who cares about freedom and democracy. By all means should ideas be robustly challenged and alternatives presented. But Voltaire was right when he said ‘I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it‘.
Our nation is the poorer because of a political system that has moved from adversarial to antagonistic. Politicians would be wise to think very carefully when they condemn hate speech – as hatred has become the language of their own profession. Those in power set the tone and people ultimately follow. Moral authority is earned through what is modelled more than maligned. That is why the vibe of political discourse desperately needs to change, and this begins with those in leadership taking responsibility and demonstrating a better way.
Meanwhile, in the midst of the political turmoil, it is always helpful to keep a healthy perspective of God. Proverbs 14:34 says ‘Doing what is right exalts a nation, but sin condemns any people.’ We would do well to pray that God will help our nation. How we need his grace.