church loughborough

Hey Student!

So…you’ve got your A Level results. You now know what uni you’re going to. Your heart is racing at a million beats per minute because you’re excited and nervous all the the same time. You got it all going on, right?

Yup…it’s all true. These next few months are set to bring a massive change in your life. The move to university is nothing short of stratospheric! Moving away from home, making new friends, learning to do life without mum and dad always being close by, starting your new course…..there is an insane amount of stuff to take in…and that’s before the month of October even finishes!

No doubt you’ve heard lots of ‘tips’ on how to survive at uni, most of which are really helpful. Then there’s the ‘heads up’ stuff about what to watch out for, like how to keep yourself safe, how to budget, how to stay alive (btw, the latter is REALLY important, ok!!) There are lots of great articles and blogs out there which I don’t need to add to.

HOWEVER…..if you would permit me to give you just one piece of advice before you head off to uni, then I’d say this – ‘Get planted in a really great local church.’

I’m not merely suggesting you find a church to attend on Sunday’s. No. I mean…get yourself PLANTED in a really great church. What do I mean? Well, this is all about immersing yourself in a community that draws out the greatness in you. After all, that’s God’s heart for your life. The idea of being planted means developing strong roots. This is how you will TRULY grow.

Since we first pioneered the Junction Church, our heart has always been to create a home away from home for students. So we’ve developed a culture which is safe enough for students to feel loved – but daring enough to create opportunities for risk. See, the problem with a lot of the stuff we hear today about ‘discipleship’ is that it’s far too theoretical and risk averse. The unwitting message it sends is… ‘get your life sorted out and then start following Jesus’. But this isn’t messy enough for me. See, if faith is a journey, then you’ve got to get moving, even through the sludge of life. That means doing stuff – serving, getting involved, playing your part. Yes, you’ll mess up. Yes, you’ll get things wrong. Yes, you’ll make loads of mistakes. But in a loving environment, there is a lot of grace for you. This is where you find out how God’s love for you is constant and real. This is where you grow in faith and confidence. This is the kind of gritty atmosphere that will draw greatness in you.

We offer loads of stuff for students here at the Junction Church. In fact, you’ll rarely hear us even refer to you as a ‘student’ because here, you’re simply part of the family, not an outsider. We host Sunday lunches, mid-week life groups, leadership development, in depth teaching on theology, worship community, daily devotions, social action projects, hang outs in homes around the area and a whole array of other stuff too. Here, you never have to do life on your own. We are absolutely passionate about championing you to become everything God has called you to be. It’s the very heart of who we are.

So, if you’re coming to Loughborough, Leicester or Nottingham, do yourself a favour and be sure to check us out. If you like the vibe, get yourself planted and we will cheer you on all the way.

So that’s my one piece of advice. Get yourself planted. That’s how you’ll flourish. (Ps 92:13).

church leicester

EXCELLENCE MATTERS.

I recently read an article which took aim at churches that pursue the value of excellence. The writer suggested church should be a messy environment reflecting the reality of a messed up world. Excellence, it was asserted, alienates people rather than connecting with them. 

Well, who could disagree with the importance of loving & reaching people where they’re at? But abandoning excellence is not the answer. Of course God accepts us as we are…but He loves us far too much to leave us that way.

I was born in west Belfast during the height of the Northern Irish troubles. I grew up in one of the most deprived areas in all of Europe. But what I observed during that time of conflict was the aspiration of a working class generation who dared to dream. They searched for something better than what they’d known up to then, resisting the patronising overtones of their middle class superiors which suggested they should “get used to the mess cos this is your lot”. So many of my peers sought to pursue a more excellent way because they longed to rise higher and go further in life. They had the audacity to believe for more..and so looked beyond the doldrums of despair toward a brighter future.

The point is…God never designed HIS church to pander to mediocrity, but rather to shine as a beacon of light in the fog of unbelief. As Paul says in 1 Cor 12:31, love offers ‘the most excellent way‘. We do a gross disservice to our towns and cities when we ever lower the bar and try to keep people where they are. That’s exactly what mediocrity does.

Excellence is a state of heart. It’s about doing the very best you can with what you have. It’s not about money. Nor is it about facilities and resource. It’s ALL about having a passion to help people reach their God given potential. A culture of excellence reflects the heart of a community which loves our world and wants to help others rise higher. We’ve seen this happen at the Junction Church over the past few years…where people have been so impacted by the culture that they’ve taken it into their families, schools, universities, work places & peer groups. Surely it’s this kind of gritty, everyday stuff that changes the world? Some call it ‘bringing the Kingdom’. We just call it ‘doing life well.’

If anywhere in the world ought to reflect excellence, it’s Church. It should never be thrown together in a shoddy, messy, untidy way. What inspiration is there in this? That’s why one of our values at the Junction Church is excellence…and we make no apology for it. It brings God glory when we create an environment that loves people, lifts their vision and helps them rise to greatness. That’s why excellence matters.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE

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WHY RELIGION HATES NOISE 
by Roy Todd

There’s a story in the bible about a blind beggar who caught wind that Jesus was in town. Upon hearing the news, he started yelling at the top of his voice ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!‘ (Mark 10:47). The reaction to his loud bellowing was one of predictable monotony by the religious people who stood by. They mocked him, ridiculed him, sneered at him and attempted to silence the noise. But the blind man was having none of it. He just shouted all the louder and eventually caught the master’s attention. Jesus absolutely loved it.

This story teaches us that religion hates noise. That’s because the resonance of authentic faith disturbs religious fakery and offends the miserable silence of tedious respectability. Religion stands tall in a prideful pose, puffed up by it’s own sense of spiritual superiority & looks down with intolerable contempt on those who refuse to conform. But what it doesn’t realise is that it is blinded by it’s own self-righteousness. The irony of the story in Mark 10 is that the man who was physically blind could see more than anyone else in that crowd. He saw who Jesus really was – but the crowd were oblivious to this reality. His simple faith honestly believed that the ‘son of David‘ had answers to his needs and that he could hear him, hence his shouting. He was right and those who tried to quieten him were wrong. When the miracle worker is in town, how could anyone possibly stay silent?

The passivity of religion will always try to silence the passion of relationship. That’s because religion is emerced in a cosy world of quiet selfishness & pretence. When anyone ever tells you that your love for God and His house is too loud, too enthusiastic or too over the top, then always conclude that this is the voice of religion trying to shut you down. It’s what it always tries to do. 

No, its time to challenge the norm of religious thinking and shout louder, just like the blind man in Mark 10. It’s time to big up what God is doing, without any apology whatsoever.

God loves enthusiasm. It’s better to have a passion for Jesus that creates some disturbance than a respectable religious demeanour in which silence is the comfort zone. God has no interest in making us comfortable. His desire is to get us from convenience to calling, from faithlessness to faithfulness, from passivity to purpose.

Yes, there’s a time for silence. But now is not the time. The Gospel is God’s good news. How can we possibly stay silent about that? The local church is the hope of the world. How could we ever keep this under wraps? Jesus changes people’s lives. What possible justification could we offer for not shouting this from the rooftops?

This is a message that’s worth making some noise about. Don’t ever let religion silence you.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

 

church leicester

7 TRAITS THAT BUILD TRUST 
by Roy Todd

No organisation will ever thrive in a low trust culture. It stunts growth, prevents progress and brings out the worst in other people. Just look around our society and you’ll see the effects of distrustfulness every day. This kind of cultural climate is precipitated by clouds of suspicion which hang sinisterly overhead, undermining confidence and empowering fear. 

If any group of people on earth should model a culture of high trust, it’s God’s people. After all, our message is all about faith, right? But trust is something which is built. That’s why James said ‘Faith without works is dead‘ (James 2:17). 

Here are seven traits that help create a culture of trust in your life:

TEACHABILITY

This is not just about being open to correction, but actively seeking input that will help you get better. Maintaining a teachable spirit not only keeps you fresh but bridges trust with others.

HUMILITY

C S Lewis once observed that ‘humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.’ Imagine the kind of trust that would be built if ego and pride were taken out of the equation? 

CONSISTENCY

Consistency is what creates credibility. The secret of building lasting trust is to keep doing the right thing long enough. Showing up matters. Faithfulness matters. These things build trust.

ACCOUNTABILITY

Going rogue without being answerable is one of the surest ways to undermine people’s trust. Keeping yourself accountable is about integrity. Submission doesn’t hold you back, it enhances you.

RELIABILITY

All the ability in the world is meaningless without reliability. When you become a rock solid person who does what they say they’ll do and keeps their word, this builds powerful trust.

RESPONSIBILITY

Freedom doesn’t happen by everybody just doing their own thing. This actually creates a chaotic culture in which people don’t feel safe. Taking personal responsibility and not blaming others – that’s how you build trust. 

INTENTIONALITY

Good intent is admirable. But being intentional is what helps build trust. It means planning ahead. It means respecting people enough to prepare in advance. This helps people understand you love them. When this happens, trust thrives.

 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE

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YOU’RE NOT MEANT TO ‘FIT IN’
by Roy Todd

Are you ready for a shocking confession? Ok, here goes. All my life, I’ve never really felt like I’ve fitted in. I don’t mention this to garner nauseating sympathy or to adapt some kind of victim status. No, it’s just an honest reflection about how I’ve always felt.

At school, I was never really the sporting type. While all my mates were playing football, I was in a music room practising classical piano. When I went on to pursue further music studies, I always felt different because I was a working class boy among a bunch of artistic upper/middle class students from far wealthier backgrounds. Then when I had the opportunity to take music further, I left it all behind and departed for England to study theology. This was to the absolute shock of my music tutors who were completely bewildered by my strange decision as they’d had high hopes for me as a musician.

When I arrived in England, I always felt different. Having an Irish accent didn’t help in this regard. Repeating every sentence twice during conversations became routine. As an Irish guy living in England during the so-called ‘troubles’, I sometimes felt like I was on the receiving end of more than a hint of suspicion too.

After graduation, while other people my age went on to pursue careers and earn lots of money, I went into ministry (against some very strong advice). But I wasn’t just a ‘normal’ church minister. Oh no. I became a poorly paid itinerant speaker for a regional network of 60 churches in the north of England. After four years, I began to travel nationally and then internationally, with doors opening all over the world. At one point, I seriously considered moving to America where there was no shortage of speaking invitations. But something inside of me felt unfulfilled by this idea. So to the complete surprise and even dismay of many of my colleagues & friends, I ceased travelling and decided to plant a church in Loughborough. Even this was different – pioneered from scratch, meeting in a Cinema and with a vibe which was quite different from ‘normal’ church. The story could go on….Yup, I’ve always felt like I never really fitted in.

Yet in a strange way, it’s amazing to look back and see how God has influenced this for good. You see, at the heart of everything I’ve ever done has been a genuine desire to serve God. I haven’t always got it right. But when the heart is right, God has an amazing way of guiding us to where he wants us to be. In a sense, when you decide to follow Jesus, you’re not meant to fit in. You aren’t called to be ‘normal’ either. Besides, what difference has ‘normal’ ever made? Of course, this doesn’t mean going out of your way to be weird! It just means that you have a perspective on life which lots of people don’t understand. That’s ok.

Romans 12:2 says ‘Do not conform to the pattern of this world‘. In other words, no-matter what’s going on around you, it’s always better to serve God than just fit in with the crowd. Remember, people who just ‘fit in’ don’t make a difference. But people who have the courage to follow their God given convictions do. So there…being ‘different’ is ok after all.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LEICESTER

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THERE IS NO BOX
by Roy Todd

The term ‘out of the box’ is sometimes used to describe a way of thinking which breaks with conventional wisdom and dares to be different. People who consider themselves ‘radical’ often take great encouragement when they’re described this way. 

However, there is a fundamental problem with thinking ‘out of the box’. There is no box. It doesn’t exist nor has it ever existed. It is a figment of imagination, a self imposed limitation which only dwells in the world of it’s own thought life.

Most of our limitations are myths of the mind. When we ‘think out of the box’, we end up trying too hard to conquer limitations which aren’t actually there, congratulating ourselves in the process for this incredible feat of genius. But rather than accomplishing something great, ‘out of the box’ thinking tends to become fixated on theory rather than practice – philosophising rather than realising. In the end, little or nothing is actually achieved. It’s more about proving something to ourselves than accomplishing something of genuine significance.

Most truly ‘radical’ people have never really thought of themselves as radical. It’s rare to hear such a thinker describe themselves as ‘out of the box’. They are pragmatic in the main, thinking normally and practically about how they can get things done. It’s this contrast which makes them appear radical in a world of negativity that stifles possibility.

In his ministry, the thing which Jesus spoke most about was ‘the Kingdom’. In simple, practical terms, this is all about learning to make God’s reality our reality here on earth. It is for this reason He taught us to pray ‘Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven‘. In other words, the things which God values become what we value. Whatever God is passionate about, we become passionate about too.

Instead of thinking ‘out of the box’, it’s better to just think ‘Kingdom’. This way, radical becomes normal, supernatural becomes natural and extra-ordinary becomes ordinary. With our God, ALL things are possible.

 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH IN LEICESTER HERE

church leicester

LESSONS FROM LEICESTER CITY
by Roy Todd

If ever there was an example of a triumphant ascent to the heights of success followed by a traumatic descent to the depths of disaster, then Leicester City football club is just about the best one I can think of right now.

Last season, the club won the hearts of the footballing world with their magnificent title win, hailed as the greatest in the history of the English premiership. There was even talk of a movie being made about their rise to stardom. However, this season is a different story altogether, but not just because the champions are struggling in the premier league (which in many ways was to be expected). No, it is the catastrophic decision by the men in grey suits to sack their manager Claudio Ranieri at exactly the moment when the club needed him most. That’s the disaster!

Think about it. This is the man who led Leicester City to victory just last season. This is the manager who cultivated a culture of teamwork which propelled his club to success. This is the coach who inspired optimism and belief among his players and lifted the spirits of an entire city. Now, he’s gone, dropped like a sack of potatoes, dumped like a bag of rubbish. The men upstairs lost faith in him, but their decision was wrong on many levels.

Here are three lessons we can all learn…

1) In tough times, hold your nerve

When things aren’t going well, there is always the temptation to lose nerve and bail out. This is the story of so many people’s lives today. The idea of ditching what you’ve got and replacing it with something ‘better’ sounds appealing in the moment – but it’s never wise. It’s like dealing with the symptom without ever getting to the root cause. Besides, who ever said life would be easy?

2) In trying times, honour your leaders

Leaders are easy scapegoats. Think about it, when Leicester City were winning, Ranieri was hoisted up as the best manager ever. But when they struggled, he’s the one who received the blame. Of course, leaders know only too well that blame is part and parcel of the role. But to ditch the leader in such a dishonourable way is just wrong. Contemptuousness of the past is always catastrophic for the future. In moments of panic, how easy it is to forget all the good that’s happened.

3) In testing times, keep the faith

Lets face it, it’s easy to have faith in the good times. Anyone can believe then. But it’s when life gets torrid that faith gets tested. This is when we find out what we’re really made of. For Leicester City, their loss of faith in the manager and subsequent decision to sack him may have been pragmatic – but it’s a decision that has now set an unhealthy precedent in the culture of the club which not only diminishes Leicester’s reputation but undermines future trust. Wise people will want to learn the lesson. No-matter what, keep the faith. Don’t ever stop believing. It’s more important than you can possibly imagine.

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

STAYING SANE IN A WORLD OF CRAZY
by Roy Todd

The world has gone CRAZY lately! You’ve noticed, right? Actually, when has it ever been sane? History teaches us that when human pride is involved, there’s a madness that ensues which will do anything to get it’s way. Egotism has led to anarchy, wars, racism, injustice and just about every other kind of stupidity you can possibly imagine.

The thing about pride is that it feeds on insecurity. While arrogance gives off the appearance of strength, it is actually just the cheap intimidation of confidence. You see, it takes a secure heart to be confident. It is teachable, humble and will say ‘sorry’ when it gets something wrong. Arrogance is never willing to do that. It is shallow, spineless & selfish, and it’s insecurity will always feel the need to prove itself by picking fights, bullying and making others feel small so it can feel big. Remember, little people belittle people.

Scary thing is…we’re all capable of developing an arrogant spirit. It’s insanity can so easily creep into our lives. How many times do good people get overcome with the madness of bitterness, unforgiveness, pride & hatred – willing to say or do just about anything to hurt others they don’t like? It’s crazy!!

So how do you stay sane in this mad world? Is it possible to keep a level head in the midst of a divided & dehumanising society that seems to care more about winning fights than winning people? Well, here’s the revolutionary advice of Jesus in Matthew 16:24-26. Hold on while you read it….

‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?’

Radical and unconventional as ever, Jesus teaches us about how to change the world. This is as gritty and real as it gets. It’s about denying your pride. It’s about ‘taking up your cross’ i.e. dying to selfishness. It’s about following HIS lead rather than doing your own thing. Paradoxically, far from limiting liberty, these things are the key to freedom. This is how you’ll stay sane in this crazy world.

As the world gets crazier, be sure not to engage in the rat race. Thing is, even if you win, you’re still a rat. So it’s not worth it. Instead, take up the challenge of surrendering everything to God. This is not weakness, it’s confidence – secure, at peace and courageous. When we learn to let go of ourselves, that’s when we discover the life of God.

 

CHECK OUT THE JUNCTION CHURCH LEICESTER HERE.

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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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church loughborough

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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 […]

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church leicester

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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