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.
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.
Developing great people skills is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself & others in your life. When you learn to relate well to people, they’ll always want to be in your company. That’s exactly what happened with Jesus. Thousands flocked to be around him because there was something about this man which made sense. He could converse with anybody…no-matter who they were or where they were from. We could learn a thing or two from him!
Here are 7 things to think about developing so you can excel in the art of conversation (they’re in no particular order)…
1) Seek to understand people
People will forget what you say, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel. When they ‘feel’ understood, you create a connection with them that makes it far easier to build a meaningful friendship. It causes conversation to flow much easier.
2) Think ahead
Even before you meet other people, think ahead to the kind of questions you will ask them. It’s the lack of forward thinking that often stunts conversation and makes it difficult to engage with others.
3) Avoid awkwardness
Long silences and uncomfortable body language are all excruciatingly awful. They’re also totally unnecessary. Be open. Be friendly. Smile. Show initiative. Take interest. Ask questions. Think ahead (remember the previous point).
4) Don’t be too Intense
Just because you might see yourself as a ‘deep’ person doesn’t mean everyone else must start there. Gauge where others are at and try to make a connection with them. Intensity which happens too quickly simply exhausts conversation and ultimately makes it unenjoyable. You must work your way there.
5) Respect space
Be alert & sense when you’re invading someone else’s personal space. But be sure not to be too distant either. Conversation is an art that needs strong self awareness and a profound understanding of context. Remember, it’s an art.
6) Be humble
Name dropping and self promotion are deeply unimpressive, especially for high calibre people. Be far more concerned about showing interest in what others do than in mentioning your own achievements. Humility is an underrated characteristic.
7) Stay positive
The best conversations are created by what you’re for, not against. So create good vibes. It’s how you’ll get the best out of others. Negativity & gossip might be great short term tittle tattle, but in the long term they create suspicion & distrust. Set the right tone…and watch what happens.
Conversation is an art which needs to be lovingly crafted. Make it your ambition to get better and better.
CHECK UT THE JUNCTION CHURCH NOTTINGHAM HERE, THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE & THE JUNCTION CHURCH LOUGHBOROUGH HERE.
The most poignant music is marked by subtlety. Things happen in the background which aren’t entirely obvious, yet when included in the overall score, help create a meaningful sound. The same is true with art. For me, the finest artwork is layered with subtleties rather than glaringly obvious. They create an experience which provokes thoughtfulness and adds perspective to life.
God is an artist. He is the true original whose creative brilliance surpasses the very meaning of ‘genius’. Yet his work is often subtle, weaved deep into the fabric of his creation.
On one occasion when Elijah the prophet was struggling with dabilitating discouragement, God surprised him by bypassing all expectations. Instead of ministering through fire, wind or earth quake, he chose the intimacy of a still small voice. It was so perfectly pitched to Elijah’s ear that only the prophet himself could hear it. Not many words where spoken by the Almighty – but the means by which he spoke was as much a message as what was spoken. The moment exuded grace, love, gentleness and kindness. Brilliance lovingly rained down on the dreariness of desert land – refreshing, beautiful, subtle. (1 Kings 19)
It’s wise to resist the temptation of over-spiritualising the extra-ordinary and under-spiritualising the ordinary. The supernatural is rarely spectacular. It’s in the ordinary, everyday stuff of life where God’s power is most at work – subtle, hidden, profound. Most miracles don’t feel like miracles. It’s only hindsight which tells the tale. That’s why it’s vitally important to hold your nerve. Often, your greatest need is just a miracle in disguise.
One of the most priceless gifts you can give yourself on any given day is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. He’s always at work, even when you don’t realise it. Learn the art of sensitivity and suddenly your eyes will be opened to a new perspective of God’s amazing grace…in the ordinary. That’s where His best work is.
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LEICESTER HERE, THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LOUGHBOROUGH HERE AND FIND OUT ABOUT OUR NOTTINGHAM CHURCH HERE!!
I recently read some Christian blogs which were full of complaint about churches that have ‘hipster’ lights, punchy music & a ‘style’ that is not to their liking. Afterwards, I found myself thinking….SO WHAT??? In a world that’s in desperate need of the life giving hope of God’s good news, are these things seriously worth getting so angry about? I mean, in the grand scheme of things….really??
So what if some churches like a few lights? So what if there’s a bit of beat in the music? So what if some churches don’t conform to traditional ways of doing things – and sing songs that have been written in the last 2 years rather than 20 or 200 years ago? So what???
Surely what REALLY matters is that people are encountering the life transforming grace of Jesus Christ? Surely it would be better to celebrate churches that are courageously reaching out and impacting a generation with the greatest news on the planet? Surely the REAL travesty is that there are so many churches out there where new salvations are few and far between?
The Pharisees detested Jesus because he didn’t fit with their expectations of how things should be done. They even accused him of being a compromiser, or as they put it, a ‘friend of sinners‘ (Matt 11:19). But what was meant as a carping, sniping criticism was actually an unwitting compliment. You see, Jesus related to everyday people, used illustrations they could identify with and connected with their lives. Meanwhile, religion loves to stay in it’s own little theologically correct bubble and feels better about itself when it is pontificating about what it doesn’t approve of. Every Christian would do well to take care not fall into it’s pit. It’s a death trap in which many churches today are paying a heavy price, their very existence on the edge of extinction.
If we’re going to win a generation, then the Church (capital C) is going to need to shake itself out of complacency and recapture the raw heart & essence of Jesus message. Think for a moment about the first line of the most well known verse in the bible – ‘For God so loved the world‘. That one statement tells us everything about the ONE we worship. If it matters to him, it ought to matter to us. In the end, that’s what REALLY matters.
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE AND THE JUNCTION CHURCH LOUGHBOROUGH HERE.
Before we planted the Junction Church, I had a dream of a community where incredible musicianship would be provoked and amazing songs would be produced. You see, I seriously reckon that church ought to be the most brilliantly creative community in town. So I guess part of the reason for this blog is to do some provoking!
For me, music is a passion. Growing up in Belfast, I studied classical piano at the school of music. This was one of the greatest institutions in the city, inspiring creativity during the weary days of ‘the troubles’. It wasn’t easy to get into it (which gave it a certain prestige) – and the standard of teaching was absolutely first rate. Whilst there, I went on to develop a keen interest in jazz piano, and that fascination has never gone away. I love music today more than ever. When it’s bad and ill-disciplined, I’m appalled by it. When it’s really good, I SO appreciate it!
Music is an art that stirs the heart, creates moments and gives expression to emotion that goes beyond words. In a sense, it’s a universal language. Imagine your favourite movie without the sound track? Wouldn’t be the same, would it? That’s the power of music – it changes the atmosphere.
In the Psalms, King David encouraged great musicianship. For example, in Psalm 33:3, he says ‘Sing a new song and play skillfully‘. This pretty much sums up my dream for music at the Junction Church.
Here are 10 keys (excuse the pun) for great musicianship:
1) Take interest – this stems from having passion, which is the child of inspiration.
2) Practice much – if this isn’t happening, then the musicianship will never be taken seriously.
3) Be disciplined – learn how to patiently flow with music rather than trying to force it to happen.
4) Listen to the vibe – this is especially important when playing as part of a team. Listening creates great music.
5) Be selfless – the greatest musicians understand the power of subtlety and not drawing attention to themselves.
6) Develop your craft – for music to be performed with skillful ease, it needs to be carefully crafted behind the scenes. That takes W.O.R.K.
7) Challenge yourself – learn to play proficiently in every key, especially the more uncomfortable ones.
8) Be teachable – every musician has something new to learn.
9) Master one instrument – stop trying to be a multi-instrumentalist. Be excellent at one instead of average at many.
10) Do it for God’s glory – let this always motivate the why behind the what.
If you’re a musician interested in being part of a great worship team, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hey!! We’re excited about releasing two albums. Yes, TWO!!
The first is called VIBE, a 14 track instrumental album which is a soundtrack to what’s happening in the life of our church. We really wanted to create something that’s upbeat, capturing the heart of what God is doing. We’d LOVE it if you would download the album HERE.
Then in 2018 (January), we’re releasing our first worship album. This is called HOPE WILL ARISE. We’re currently finishing it off and you’ll hear more details about this soon!
Worship means SO much to us at the Junction Church. When we meet together as a community, we sing songs that express our love and passion for God. But why is music so important? Well, for a start, this is an art which is clearly used in the bible. For example, over 55 of the psalms were actually song lyrics that are prefaced with the instruction ‘for the director of music‘. It’s a pity recording devices weren’t around then as it would be awesome to hear what those songs actually sounded like!! Then in the New Testament, Paul sometimes quotes words from what many scholars believe where early Christian songs. Philippians 2:5-11 is probably one of them (it’s totally worth a read).
At the Junction Church, our heart is to create songs that are biblically based and which also reflect life in Century 21. Our boundaries are ancient but our outlook is eternal. The first part is really important to us and we totally believe in the importance of declaring God’s Word rather than just writing a bunch of nice lyrics. It’s the Word that produces faith (Romans 10:17). Without the certainty of biblical truth, all you get is a clash of confused noise. However, it’s also important to us that we reflect what God is doing today. Our heart is to help a generation connect with Jesus through the language of music.
Junction Collective is a team of musicians at the Junction Church who are passionate about using our skills for the glory of God. Our ethos is that none of our individual names are attached to the songs we write. That’s because we want to keep our ego’s in check. Our heart is to serve and we think this is really important. We really love our church and we’re excited about what God is doing today.
If you’re a musician or singer and you’d like to get in contact, send an email to email@example.com
Later this year, the Junction Church in Leicester and Loughborough is hosting our first ever conference. It’s called V3. This stands for Vision, Vibe & Values. The dates are Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th November 2017.
V3 is totally designed with you in mind. Our passion is to inspire you to be uncompromising in your pursuit of God’s purpose for your life. We’re bringing in some world class speakers who are friends of the house, people who we know will speak prophetically into your destiny & into the future of our church.
The conference itself will become an annual fixture in the Junction Church diary. At the heart of it is a desire to be both creative and gritty – inspirational and practical – contemporary and biblical. As our church continues to grow and we dare to venture into new territory, V3 will become a key focal point, a time when we come together as a church to remember WHY we do what we do.
It’s easy to forget that the Junction Church is less than 5 years old. We don’t have a long history of families who’ve been connected with us over many decades. YOU are the history of this church. That means we have the incredible opportunity to influence future generations with authentic faith, courageous hope and real love. This is our time!
Point is, we’re far more interested in looking forwards than backwards. We dare to dream big and we make no apologies for it. It’s not about mere lip service…we’re already doing the business, influencing cities, carrying hope, challenging pre-conceptions about God & making a real difference to people’s lives. But we honestly believe there are far greater things yet to come.
That’s why we can’t wait to host V3 this November. Better still, we’re pumped about seeing you there! Since places are limited, why don’t you go ahead and get yourself booked in today. This is going to do you SO much good!!
To book into the V3 conference, click HERE.
GO AGAINST THE FLOW….AND DARE TO SPEAK LIFE by Roy Todd
If the vibe of your everyday conversation tends to be voiced with sarcastic put downs and mean spirited ease, it is your right to speak this way. However, it is wise to understand that nothing of nobility or worth will ever emerge from this kind of talk. It simply flows with thoughtless effort, monotonously submitted to a tedious tide of cultural toxicity which has been gathering momentum for years.
When you’re swept away by the pressure of it’s current, it is normal to drag others with you, deep into an ocean of discouragement. Your vision becomes blurred by the seas of cynicism, so much that you can’t grasp just how utterly suffocating this is to vitality and confidence, not least your own. Only when you experience the freshness of a genuine alternative can you truly breathe and impart life to those around you. However, this means raising your head above the waters, going against the flow and daring to be different.
Words matter. In a hurting world, they can either add to the weight of people’s hurts and drown them in negativity – or lift their sinking hearts and breathe the oxygen of God’s healing grace to their souls.
When we first planted the Junction Church, part of our vision was to create a church culture that was so filled with encouragement that when people walked into our environment, they would experience something that is rare….love. We totally understood that this intentionality might appear strange and over the top to some, especially to those who’ve only ever known cynicism as the norm. However, what has transpired over these past few years is a quiet revolution in the hearts of numerous people. One person I spoke to recently told me of the impact this culture has had on their family. The pessimism they’d struggled with for years has been profoundly challenged and replaced with a life giving optimism they had never experienced before.
In truth, this vibe should be the norm for any church community. The bible says ‘mercy triumphs over judgment’ (James 2:13). If we believe this is true, this means that in a world of never-ending pessimism and judgmental accusation, we are the eternal optimists. How could we possibly be anything else?
No-matter how theologically correct a local church community might seem, if the atmosphere is not overflowing with the language of encouragement and uplifting others, then the toxicity of worldliness has come flooding into it’s culture, and is suffocating the potential of it’s people. Beneath the ‘spiritual’ surface are powerful currents of carnality which are both corrupting and corroding to life.
God has called us to carry a different culture – the culture of HIS Kingdom. It is totally different to the culture of the world. This has to have an impact on the way we converse and leaders must always model this first. If a leader isn’t carrying it, then the people they lead will never grasp it.
In Ephesians 4:29, Paul says ‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up…that it may give grace to those who hear.’
It’s time for us to have the courage to challenge the ‘norm’ of cynicism and create an alternative vibe to the culture of doom and gloom that’s so prevalent in our world. How do you start? By making sure your words are building others up, not pulling them down. By bathing your language in honour. Think about it. If enough people do it, this could shift the tide of momentum. It means going against the flow…and daring to speak life.
CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LEICESTER HERE
by Roy Todd