Food for thought #4

Forgiveness is a peculiar thing. And quite hard to receive or to give. We've asked Eleanor Masters to write a blog on how and why to forgive yourself. But first a song by Sons of Korah based on Psalm 19 which is about the perfect law of God.

Eleanor Masters - How to forgive yourself

I am writing on this subject not to provide a thorough and absolute doctrine, but rather in the hope of instigating or feeding your own meditations. We are all on a journey and walking this together as the family God has provided for us can get us so much further than going it alone.

Permission to Forgive

I work as a mental health nurse with adolescents aged 12-17, and one of the most prevalent reasons for young people coming to our ward is trauma which has effectively in one way or another trapped them in a horrific moment in time and rendered them unable to move beyond this. Unforgiveness can do the same thing: if someone else has harmed us, the wrong they have done can repeat in our minds; if we ourselves have done wrong, the horror we feel at our own actions can almost seem to hold us hostage and feel just as real as the present moment in which we live.

In Psalm 51 David says, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit” in place of burnt offerings – in other words, God accepts David’s remorse as an atoning sacrifice. Remorse itself is not the end point here, and we are not called to remain in a place of perpetual torture over wrongs we have done – this is when remorse morphs into guilt and, as it says in Romans 8:1, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” We are free from guilt and “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1:9).

God’s grace is always there for you and immediately available for those who ask for it. Sometimes the hardest battle is seeing that “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ our Lord,” (Romans 6:23) and accepting this: he has already paid the price of our sin for us, but if we cannot forgive ourselves we cannot take the gift he freely offers us. Give yourself permission to take this gift – whatever it is you have done, God’s grace is big enough to swallow it up whole and blot it out forever; letting this be true for you is such a vital part of forgiving yourself.


Making Amends

Sometimes it is the conviction that we have not done all that we can to put things right which holds us back from being able to truly forgive ourselves for something. That is not to say that God’s forgiveness waits for action to be carried out or relies on what we do to be released to us, but Romans 12:18 says, “If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone,” and in Matthew 5 verse 24 we are told to drop everything on the way to coming before God and make up with those we have fallen out with before coming back to worship him.

Ultimately, although we will not have to pay an eternal price for what we do wrong, we have God-given love for one another in our hearts and deep down it is very hard to tolerate hurting someone else in some way without ever apologising or taking obvious practical measures to put things right if we can.

If what you need to forgive yourself for is something you have ‘done’ to someone else, and you continue to feel ill at ease with yourself over it despite praying, meditating on and absorbing the fact of God’s infinite grace, it may be that you need to ask him what you need to do to demonstrate to that person that you are sorry. Forgiving ourselves cannot rely on whether or not they choose to forgive us, but I’ve found it’s sometimes not possible to let myself off the hook until I’ve let God show me if there is anything of this sort that I can do, and then carried this out.


What If There’s Nothing I Can Do?

When my little sister Alice was alive, there were times when I had a very difficult relationship with her – it is impossible to explain this in just a few sentences, but troubles in our childhood and her on-going battles with various mental illnesses caused a great deal of our interactions to be seen through a lens of suffering. I didn’t learn about her final hospital admission until she had already been a patient for 3-4 weeks because she had asked my parents not to tell me, saying that she blamed me for her needing to be there. I was devastated and crushed when I found this out, but I was also extremely angry at the injustice of it: I had not hurt her and could not cause her to become so unwell, but it felt like my parents were endorsing this belief. This and the fact that I was in another city looking after a newborn and a toddler while recovering from a caesarean meant that I very much delayed trying to arrange visiting her in hospital.

It took several weeks before I felt I could even phone her: I didn’t want to bring up what I had been told and make her feel worse, but it was hard to think of speaking about anything else. We did have a handful of conversations over time, and the last time I spoke with her I told her that I would visit the following Saturday. I had been hoping that when we saw each other she might see my love for her and that we could be fully reconciled. Unfortunately Alice died in the early hours of that Tuesday and I was unable ever to see her alive again. I had had no idea that the time we had was running out so rapidly, and therefore did not know how much I needed to ensure we had truly cleared the air. In all honesty, I was still angry with her at the time when she passed away.

I am sharing this because it is the clearest example I can think of in which there is nothing I can now do to put it right. In this case, I didn’t cause the hurt in the first place, but nor did I pursue reconciliation while I had the chance and now, two years on, this still fills me with sorrow.  

Over the last two years, I have gone from trying to ignore thoughts and feelings about this (because the loss of Alice alone was more than I could bear) to being forced to face this and bring it before God many times. Finally I have arrived at a place of peace – not without sadness, but the anger and the feeling that I need to be punished are no longer with me.

If you are grappling with a complicated situation where there is no clear solution or no way you can do anything to change things, do not despair. Jesus tells us, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33.) There is nothing, nothing he cannot heal. Do not be discouraged if there are some things you cannot instantly forgive yourself for: keep bringing them before God, keep standing in his presence and letting his love wash over you and keep coming back to the Bible. I would really recommend the book of Romans and 1 John as full of fantastically freeing truths about God’s forgiveness and a life lived in the light of this. Reading these, soaking up the truth and coming back to worship God again and again will help you forgive yourself for what he, our God, has already forgiven you.


Final thoughts

There are so many things I haven’t even tried to cover here, and so much more that could be said on what I have touched upon, but I do hope I have given you some food for thought.

I also want to briefly acknowledge that there may be some specific but serious cases in which seeking professional help may be of use. For example, if you have been through something very traumatic but lost someone else to this and feel you may have “Survivor’s Guilt,” getting someone to talk to might be a good idea. I do not say this to downplay God’s grace and capacity to heal, but rather because you may be experiencing things which most people have little understanding of and this can be more damaging than helpful at times.

I truly believe and have found in every circumstance I’ve lived through that our Heavenly Father will walk with us through anything and can bring healing to our hearts no matter what we have done.

Food for thought #3

Lectio Divina

This week we'd like to challenge you to read the psalm Jess and Steve preached on last Sunday using the 'Lectio Divina' Method.

What is Lectio Divina?

Lectio Divina is a Benedictine practice of reading the bible prayerfully. The intention is not to study a specific Bible passage but to meet God by reading scripture. By reading the same passage a few times, each time with a different focus, we encounter God whispering to us, pointing out things in our life He'd like to change, encouraging us and drawing us near to His Father's heart.

Again, the intention is not to understand what the passage says, it's to hear God's voice speaking to us personally, so take your time in each step.

How to do Lectio Divina?

There are a couple of ways of doing this but the simplest  way is to read the same passage 3 times.

  1. The first time you just look at the text. What is happening? Who is speaking? Are there phrases or words that pop out? We're not looking to work out why, just be aware of what captures your attention.
  2. The second time you read the text while praying "God, what are you saying to me today?". So now we ask the question why specific phrases or words stand out.
  3. The third time we ask what God is inviting us into. Are there opportunities God is highlighting for you to step in? 

We would recommend this resource when you want to read Psalm 68 with Lectio Divina.

Thomas's Thoughts on Psalm 68

When I started reading this psalm with the intention of doing the three steps of Lectio Divina, I initially thought it was quite a long psalm with many movements and different themes. The first time through, I had to read a couple of verses multiple times to understand what was going on. To be honest, in the first reading not a lot jumped out to me. For clarification, I used the ESV when reading the Psalm. There was one word in verse 9 that jumped out to me as I was reading - 'inheritance'. I couldn't see a reason why it jumped out to me so I almost didn't pay attention to it but I underlined it anyway. 

I prayed "God, what are you saying to me today?" and read the psalm a second time. This time a couple of things jumped out. Especially the movement we see in verse 24 where it speaks about a procession into the sanctuary. I saw a picture of Jesus on a horse entering the city with his warriors celebrating a victory. I felt an intense joy with this. I was standing in the crowd cheering.
On top of that, the line in verse 10 stood out to me that says: "From your bounty, God, You provided for the poor". This reminded me that, although the psalm talks about how God defeats His enemies, He doesn't want to have enemies and would rather save people, but there's no room for people intentionally going against Him.

The third time I asked what God was inviting me into. As I started reading, the first words of the psalm instantly hit me: "May God arise". Now the next thoughts are hard to explain so bear with me. Verse 16 jumped out as well and it was as if the mountain in the verse was an image for my heart. God invited me to not be in the crowd cheering during the procession, but one of the warriors. In order to become that, I need to have an undivided heart. Some things in me are enemies of God and there's just no room for that. So He invites me to let those things go and let Him be the ruler in my heart. 

I shared these to give you an idea of how Lectio Divina can work, of course you will probably pull different things from psalm 68 in conversation with God!

What is God inviting you into?

Food for thought #2

Last Sunday we kicked off our new sermon series - Psalms that tell a story. We started with a Psalm written during David's life when he was being persecuted by Saul. David wrote a lot of songs while under adversity. We've asked Tony Bunker to write us a blog on how to reverse adversity, but first hear how Rend Collective puts their feelings into a song:

When it's just not OK - By Tony Bunker

Hi, my name is Tony and I am married to the lovely Maddy. We have three grown up boys who come home from time to time to eat all our food. I am writing this because I have a fair bit of experience of living when its not OK. I am disabled with a form of restricted growth which limits what I can do and causes quite a bit of pain. I also have some longstanding promises from God which have not yet been fulfilled…

We know our God is amazing. We know He regularly does frankly astonishing stuff like fixing bodies so they work properly, or fixing finances so that there is money when before there was just a horrible gap. He fixes relationships so that there is peace instead of tension. He fixes emotional hurt, career mess, addictions - the list goes on and on. Most of all, we know our God is amazing because He brings us salvation, wholeness and spiritual life. He brings hope, joy and a fantastic future. We know these things are true because scripture says so and because we have seen them
to be true in our lives and the lives of others we care about.

So what happens when they aren't? Or at least they aren't so far? What happens when all we are left with is unfulfilled promises and emotional rawness? When we just can't bridge the vast chasm between what we believe and know to be true, and the daily rubbish in front of our eyes? And what about when it isn't just a quick crisis but a grinding struggle, rolling on unchanging for months and years, stretching our hope very thin? What happens when we have to say ‘I’m fine thanks’ when people ask us how we are, because if we told them the truth we’d start crying and not be able to stop?

How do we respond when we find ourselves facing this - and many, if not most, of us will at some stage in our lives? David, Paul and countless others rolling down from the pages of scripture to the present day, have dealt with the most horrendous adversity and not been broken but actually seem to grow stronger in the midst of it. So what’s the secret? Here are a few thoughts:

  • Be honest with God, if it hurts say so! Don’t pretend it's all OK when it's really not, God is big enough to deal with our anguish, frustration and questions, even our anger. But stay away from self pity and despair - that’s enemy territory.
  • In your honesty, remember who God has shown Himself to be to you. Remember specific instances where He has shown you His grace, love and power. But most importantly remember who He is. David was sustained through some very difficult times by his deep inner certainty that God is good and full of love. Pray that God will show you more of who He is to help you in the same way.
  • We are built to live in friendship with others. Find people you trust who you can tell how much it hurts and who can support you, pray for you, love you, and yes challenge you when you need it.
  • Keep an eternal perspective. Your life belongs to God and ultimately what matters more than anything is becoming more like Jesus and building his Kingdom. It's hard, but hold things lightly here and now, and keep your eyes on the prize!

Remember, no matter how it seems it's going, it's still only halftime!

Food For Thought #1

This weekend we'll be starting our new sermon series on the Psalms. These 'Food for Thought' blogs will be released every week to help us get a bit deeper into each theme. 

As an introduction we'd like to explain a little bit about how the bible tells us the same stories from different perspectives. 

But first, we thought you might enjoy this rendition of Psalm 77 by Sons of Korah:

The bible from different perspectives

Often when we are reading the Bible, we zoom in on one passage or book. It’s important to note that a lot of it fits together and the Bible gives different accounts of the same time period. We have 4 gospels that tell the story of Jesus in a different light, each with their own focus and style. Also in the Old Testament we’ve got different sets of literature that speak about the same events.

Traditionally, we divide the type of books in the Old Testament as follows; the Pentateuch (or the first five books of Moses); historical books; wisdom books and the Major and Minor prophets. 


The first five books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) have in themselves different ways of telling the story. There are big chunks of historical report mixed with a lot of poetry. There’s also direct instruction of how to live life, as it tells us how God gave His people the law and what the law was.

Historical books

The Historical books are Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. We see some songs and even prophecies but they are primarily a historical account of events concerning Israel as God’s people.

Wisdom books

Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs are books of wisdom. They don’t tell us an account of events. Most of these books are written in a poetic style and have a lot imagery in them.

Though these book are not historical books, it’s worth noting that there’s usually a story behind the poetry or a reason why they were written. We can often find the context of these books in passages of the Historical Books. For instance, Psalm 51 was written after David committed adultery with Bathsheba, which we can read in 2 Samuel 11.

Sometimes there’s a prophetic layer to these books as well. For instance, Psalm 22 was written by David, singing about his sorrows, but we can also see Jesus in this Psalm and how he was rejected.

Major and Minor prophets

The prophetic books are also not historical. The prophets received a word from God for different sets of people and we get an outsiders look into these words. These prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi.

Again these are written in a certain time period and for a specific reason. They have elements that are historical to explain why they received these words from God.

So how do they hang together?

If not all books are primarily historical, and they are not ordered in the bible chronologically, how do we know what goes with what? A psalm is written for a specific occasion, but can we get more insight into the psalm if we can figure out when it’s written?

If we look at the graph below we see that Job is one of the oldest books. We also see that Isaiah and Micah were contemporaries. We can see that Chronicles and Kings are talking about the same time period. They’re both historical books, what’s the difference between them? Do they have a different focus and why might that be?

It’s important to know when we read Isaiah that he wrote his stuff before the exile and that Malachi wrote after the exile while Israel was still under the rule of other nations.

It’s very difficult to date the books of the Bible exactly. Although graphs like these are helpful, we should only use them to get an idea of how books relate to each other time wise.

It’s very difficult to date the books of the Bible exactly. Although graphs like these are helpful, we should only use them to get an idea of how books relate to each other time wise.


When looking at a certain story, it might be worth checking if there was another Biblical writer writing in the same period or about the same events. This way we can get a clearer picture of what has happened historically and with what intention the writers wrote.

Summer Sunday Services

Summer is Here!

During the summer we love to make a more relaxed space for people, so whilst we are having services at our usual times (10:30am, 11am, 5:30pm) we will be doing something a little special each week. Take a look below for more details:

July 30th - Cafe Church
Come along for relaxed, cafe-style services at all sites. 

August 6th - Board Games
The morning services will happen as normal. After the evening-service however you can stick around to play board games. Bring your games!

August 13th - Ice Cream
When it's a hot summers day you need some cooling down. That's why we're serving ice-cream after every service.

August 20th - Strawberries and cream
We like to treat everyone with strawberries and cream after every service. Enjoy, it's on us!

August 27th - Community Sunday
We will have no morning services but we'd like to invite everyone to a picnic at the south site.
Join us in the evening for a worship night at City Centre Site.
The picnic is from 11am until 2pm.
The worship night is from 5.30pm until 7.30pm.

September 3rd - Board games
The morning services will happen as normal. After the evening-service however you can stick around to play board games. Bring your games!

St. Patrick's Day Road Closures

Some of you may have seen that some parts of Digbeth are being closed this Sunday for the St. Patrick's Day Parade. The route is outlined in red below. It shouldn't have an impact on our normal church services, though traffic may be a little heavier than usual. Please bare this in mind when considering travel time.

Lent: Some Resources to Get You Started

And so lent begins!

Lent is a season of fasting (giving stuff up) & repentance (recognising what we've done wrong), leading up to Easter,  as we celebrate what Jesus has done for us.

It's an encouragement to turn back to God once again, with renewed passion. We devote ourselves through prayer, fasting and giving.

If you'd like to join in this season, we thought we'd put together a few helpful resources to get you started!


There are so many great opportunities and causes to give to, it's sometimes hard to know where to start. Here are the things that we're doing - it'd be great if you'd like to join us, and together we can bless people this Easter.

For the past few years, we have collected chocolate Easter eggs, donated by our church family. We've been able to pass these on to our agencies we partner with, and they have in turn distributed them to their clients. Last year, 196 eggs were donated. We'd love to see if we could donate over 200 this year! It's a really great way to bless families in need at this time of year.

As well as our Easter collection, our regular Foodbank operates all year round, supported only by donations of the church. We're always in need of more donations, so please GRAB a bag from the back of church, FILL a bag with everything on the list and GIVE a bag this Easter. Alternatively, visit our Foodbank section to find the shopping lists, and bring in a carrier bag of all the items.


24/7 Prayer have created 7 great videos about how Easter can have an impact in your life:



NT Wright has written a series of devotionals, one for each day, over 53 days. Each day, there is a Bible reading, and a thought from NT Wright about how it relates to Easter. It's really great!


Ann Voskamp has also created some great resources for Easter, with a really fresh take on grace & reminding ourselves to keep Jesus at the heart of everything:

40 acts is a great missional resource with 40 days of generosity challenges to bless those around us. It's great for families and individuals alike. Check out more here:

Giving Focus: This Way Up

Birmingham Vineyard is a registered charity which exists to bring life to individuals and communities across the city of Birmingham and beyond. We are funded entirely by donations and use these both to resource our own projects and to invest other organisations. Each month, we’ll be profiling one of the organisations we support, letting you know in more detail who they are, what they do and why we think what they’re doing is so important.

This Way Up is a charity which offers pastoral mentoring to young people in the West Midlands. They usually support children who are coping with loss, through bereavement or family breakdown, giving them someone to meet up with regularly and talk to about their experiences and feelings and helping them develop coping strategies.

14 year-old Tina came to mentoring sessions very anxious about the prospect of her mock exams occurring around the anniversary date of her dad’s death. She had never talked about her dad’s death before but was given the space to do this with her Mentor and to make a memory jar to commemorate him. At the end of her sessions she said that she felt much happier than at the start. She said ”I’m able to see the positives in life and can focus in lessons for the exams”
— This Way Up Website

If you’d like to find out more about This Way Up, or find out how to become a mentor, visit their website,

Week of Prayer Stories

Last week was the first of three weeks of prayer (BVWOP) we'll have here at Birmingham Vineyard in 2017. Last week saw more people commit to an hour of prayer than we have ever had and we heard so many stories and testimonies of what God has been up to, as well as having a wonderful time in worship and prayer at the Presence.

Presence Jan 17.jpg

One of the values we have here at Birmingham Vineyard is encouraging people into the passions and gifting’s God has given them and releasing people into this. The weeks of prayer we have are no exception to this! Below is a story from Ruth Traynor who is now part of the team who put together the weeks of prayer, the resources and The Presence, alongside Liisa Wiseman and myself (Aaron). I've also  included some stories which came in from last week:

‘Sitting in a church in Vestmannaeyjar, an obscure volcanic island off the coast of Iceland, I decided to see if I could get stuck in with 'prayer stuff' at church.  I had been on the island for 2 weeks, with a 24-7 Prayer Team, spending a week in 24-7 prayer, followed by 5 days giving out free coffee and chatting with the thousands of Icelanders who had descended on the tiny island for the annual 'lively' Viking festival, þjóðhátíð (try pronouncing that one!).

I didn't want to get involved with BVWOP because I had suddenly become a prayer expert or finally 'cracked' praying, but it was because of the joy I had found in spending time with God and the creative possibilities found in prayer. I also loved looking outward to the community we were immersed in, letting the festival, the locals and everything we were surrounded by shape our prayers.

Although spending time on a tiny, obscure Icelandic island was an amazing experience, my experience of Viking culture wasn't the most profound 'takeaway' from my time. I became far more concerned with how we can recreate that level of outward looking and compassionate prayer in our everyday working-lives. That's why I love BVWOP so much - because the whole point is to challenge us to raise our prayer game in our everyday lives.

I have absolutely loved getting stuck in; being able to indulge my creative side, challenge my own prayer life and see others grow in their faith has been awesome. I would totally encourage anyone, if God has lit a spark in you for anything, to find an opportunity to get stuck in and play... see what God is going to do with you and your spark!’

So if God has put a ‘spark’ in you for something then say yes and see where God takes you. Here is a selection of stories from last week:

  • I came to the evening service with a painful back last night, after lifting some rubbish earlier in the day. Sitting or standing was really uncomfortable. Becky prayed for me during ministry time; it felt a little better, but was still sore. This morning it is completely better!

  • My cell prayed for me about an OFSTED advisory visit – as a result it was a more constructive and positive experience than I could have imagined!
  • I felt God prompt me to fast at various points this week – which I did. At the end of the week, although hungry, I felt as if God had met my need and I feel my relationship has deepened.
  • I have previously struggled with praying for an hour, but this week I have felt as if the resources (breaking an hour up) have helped me engage with God like never before.
  • Someone I met through work some time ago (and was able to chat to about God as she experienced Him in the midst of difficulty), has recently got in touch and invited me to her baptism!
  • On the Sunday before the week of prayer started, one of our young peoples toenails was completely split in two by an opponent's football studs during his football match. It was very painful and kept bleeding! On Monday night we commanded the nail to be completely healed in the name of Jesus. On Tuesday morning we heard a shout - "Praise God, He's healed my toe!" The toenail was as good as new and completely un-split. What's almost as good as God's healing is the faith and immediate thanksgiving of this 9 year-old!

Got a story/testimony? We would love to hear it! E-mail

In the meantime, lets continue to press into God and see his Kingdom come!


Adventurous Faith

As a church we’re excited to be hosting a group of 11 young people from YWAM New York led by Kate James who grew up in Birmingham Vineyard. We asked Kate to give us some of her thoughts:


Hi All,

As we go into the latest teaching series, that looks at faith, I just wanted to encourage us all. For the last two years I have been serving on staff with YWAM in New York. This has been an incredible adventure, one that I never thought I was equipped for, but did because God has asked me to. During this time, I have had to rely on God for financial provision, this is never easy, but He is always faithful, and my relationship with Him is so much stronger because of it. During the last year, I have stood on the brink of depression, plagued by anxiety I had never experienced before, and having to make a conscious decision to get out of bed each morning and face what was ahead of me. While it’s been difficult, I have clung tighter to Jesus and He has become the first person I turn to in all situations.

As we go into this series, I want us all to know that we are called for a faith adventure with God, we are all world changers. Individually made to make an individual impact on the world. None of us are average, we have all been invited on the journey, and the journey starts with a yes! We don’t need to have it all together we don’t need to have a plan beforehand, God just wants our yes.

If God is calling you into something, know that He will be with you every step of the way. We see in Jeremiah, God didn’t just call him into his adventure, He promised to be there throughout.

Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
— Jeremiah 1:18-19

Empowering Leadership

This week we had the honour of hosting Tom and Beth Camacho, who oversee coaching training for Vineyard USA. In sessions on Friday night and Saturday morning, Tom presented an introduction to Empowering Leadership through the use of coaching tools for our leadership community. The sessions were full of helpful and insightful tools for us to use in the different leadership environments in which we find ourselves. 

In principle, God's desire is for us to multiply ourselves by equipping, empowering and releasing other leaders who can go on to empower others. This is part of the DNA of the Vineyard movement, where our founder John Wimber taught us that "everyone gets to play". He explained the process of releasing ministry to others as "I do it, you watch. We do it together. You do it, I watch. You do it alone." He modelled a 'coming alongside' leadership style which we can see in the lives of Barnabas and Saul in Acts 11:25-26. For a whole year Barnabas met with the church and taught great numbers of people, with Saul by his side. After this, Saul separated from Barnabas and himself began to teach as had been modelled to him. 

Coaching is the process of coming alongside someone to help them discover God's agenda for their life and ministry or to get clarity and confidence in addressing life’s challenges and then cooperating with the Holy Spirit to see that agenda become a reality. Coaching is not about telling people what to do, but is more about listening well and asking insightful questions. In cooperation with the Holy Spirit, coaching can help a person or team sort out where they are, identify obstacles, set goals for the future, discover where God wants them to go, and then help determine how to best get them there.


There are three important skills to learn when we think about how to coach somebody:

  1. Discovery listening involves developing the skills necessary to listen in such a way that we really understand what our coachee is saying. We might summarise what they are saying periodically without evaluating it, invite our coachee to say more and allow them to fully unpack their ideas before we give input and pay close attention to their body language, tone of voice and emotions. 

  2. Asking insightful questions is a key skill in coaching. Good questions are open-ended rather than closed-ended and create opportunity for deep reflection, helping the person think in a more helpful way about things.

  3. Cooperating with the Holy Spirit to find the intersection of the passion, wiring and gifting that God has put in the person we are coaching. We are mining for the gold of the nature and image of Christ in each person, drawing out the son or daughter God created them to be. 

The key to coaching is that the responsibility for growth and development remains with the person being coached. We don't take on their development, we just come alongside and partner with them and the Holy Spirit in their growth. 


If you are interested in reading more, the recommended textbook for this coaching method is 'Coaching 101' by Bob Logan. An excellent 12 page summary of the book can be found here


Alternatively come and chat to Rosie so we can look at developing some further skills in this area in the spring.

It's Christmas!

Whether you love it or not, Christmas is a very special time for us as we celebrate our King coming to live as one of us.

This year, we have a Christmassy theme throughout December, with services on the 4th & 11th. On the 18th, we have carol services at all three services, and Kids Christmas parties as well. Service times are 9.30, 11.15 & 17.30.

On Christmas Day, we're having a short meeting at 10:30.

To finish off the season, and enter the new year, we're meeting for an evening of worship on 1st January.

We hope to see you there, and we hope you'll invite everyone you know to come and celebrate with us!

Thank God It's Monday Series and Q&A

We're excited to be starting our new series this Sunday and we want to hear from you!

This series we'll be looking at God's heart for our work life, in whatever sector we are.

On Sunday 20th we've invited a great panel of speakers to come and answer your questions. So if you're a full-time parent, a business executive, educator, waiter or a decorator this is your chance to ask any questions you may have about work life.

Maybe you're wondering how to handle a specific situation well, perhaps you have a question about what the Bible says about your work, anything at all. No question off limits!

You can tweet them (#tgimseries), send them to us on Facebook ( or if you'd like them to be anonymous you can fill out your question in the form below:



Prayer - 'Give me an hour and I'll give you a whole new life'

We're in the middle of our Week of Prayer and we're excited to see God moving and hear His voice! Today we asked one of our leaders for some of his thoughts on prayer.

Sometimes when I want to pray I can feel condemned and ashamed. We can all have feelings or thoughts in our mind which stop us chatting with Father God. We are in a battle with a real enemy and he often comes to us with whispers of discouragement and puts negative labels on us. These labels bring shame and stop us being who we really us – we are all equally sons and daughters of the King with full access to Father God and His Kingdom. When the Trinity speaks to us it is in love, ‘there is no fear in love’ 1 John 4 18.

As we enter this week of prayer I felt this whisper from the enemy again ‘who are you to pray? Have you forgotten you are rubbish at praying? Let the intercessors do it…’

Satan is scared of our prayers; he wants to put us off through his lies. This week we can be confident Jesus will take us and our prayers to Father God, Romans 8 34. I want to be all in for Jesus and let Him bubble up His river of life in me as he promised in John 4.

Praying for an hour can seem a daunting task hence the resources available. The time slot is a helpful focus, but the point is giving a window in our day to allow the Father to love us. The Father is jealous for you, passionate to refresh you with your true identity and His spirit.

A couple of weeks ago we saw a video during the service which looked at how Jesus called Peter to give up all he had to follow him. In the clip Jesus turns to Peter and says ‘Give me an hour and I will give you a whole new life’. Spending that hour with Jesus transformed Peter’s life. As you consider whether to sign up for an hour we want to encourage you that this time in prayer, however you do it can change your life. 

I encourage you to tell someone about the lies you may hear and take the opportunity this week to give time to be loved by our Father.

Tom Husbands

In prayer we engage with God and He changes us. As God changes us in prayer He drives us out to be justice-seekers, peacemakers, healers and bringers of good news.
— Justin Welby

The Me I'm Meant To Be - Made Unique

This week Andrew talks about how God has made us unique, and encourages us to think about what we bring to the party. If you haven't already you can listen to it here.

Questions for personal reflection

Key Verses  - Hebrews 12:1, 2 Peter 1:3-12 1 Peter 4:10.

  • How comfortable am I appreciating and describing Gods handiwork in my life? (Does "my soul know it very well"? Ps 139)
  • What can Jesus bring into a situation because I'm present? What have people described to me in terms of my of character or skills?
  • What have I observed myself? What’s brought me joy and satisfaction?
  • With my strengths how can I move from raw to mature to empowered?
  • What people, resources, environments or experiences might I need to help me in that development? 
  • If you have authority… Who can I encourage this week? Say what you see. Both in the present and who that person is becoming.
  • Where is that encouragement most needed. My friendships or family, Church or work?


  • Daily examine - A way to pray and reflect from the Jesuit Christian tradition.
  • Flow -  Insight on what happens when high challenge meets high skills / strengths. Ted talk and a book summary.

The Me I'm Meant To Be - Made To Flourish

This Sunday was the start of a new series. Jesus describes the life he made available for us as 'life in all its fullness', in this series we'll see how to become the "The Me I'm Meant To Be"

This term we are excited to be focusing on Alpha in our cell groups, so they won't be following our sermon series. We would still love you to engage with the Sunday teaching so we'll be posting a few questions each week to help you with your own personal reflections.


Here are some things that were raised in Sundays talk:

When thinking about 'The Me I'm Meant To Be' it's helpful to be aware of the things competing with that. What do each of these look like for you?
- The me I’m pretending to be
- The me I think I should be
- The me others want me to be

- What is God inviting you to be in this season of my life. What does the most alive - mature version of you look like?

- What’s the personal best that God has in mind? Think about your faith character and the roles you fulfil.

- How’s your vitality bucket?

- What are the replenishing people, dynamics, activities and engagements that predictably fill you up?

- What has the opposite effect for you?

You are more than your results

My failures in life are many. I got 4 O’level’s but failed to get the 5 I needed to study for 3 A’levels. I sat professional exams but my biggest fail there was an ungraded paper, the second time I sat it. I froze and walked out of the exam. I haven’t completed my degree yet because of ill health. 

BUT I managed A+ assignments at college, firsts in some of my degree assignments and I achieved my really tough professional qualifications. I ran a successful marketing department in an international bank and was promoted again and again. I moved into ministry and God has blessed so many of my steps, taking the things I write around the world. 

The sum of my life is not my failures or even my successes, but they are a part of my story. Some were hard to swallow and tough to walk through but I kept putting one foot in front of the other and chose alternative paths when they were presented to me. 

If you’ve had results this summer, are receiving them today or have some to come, whatever the outcome, they are not the sum of you either! Grab hold of hope, know that closed doors can sometimes be pushed ajar or you may be being diverted to other things. Whatever the path, there will be blessings if you continue to work at what God sets before you with all your heart. 




The churches in Birmingham, along with lots of other arts organisations, humanist societies and other faith groups, launched an initiative last week to live out Jesus’ words: ‘love your neighbour’ ( It’s a phrase taken right out of Jesus teaching and he defined who our neighbour is in the most famous parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:29).

Loving your neighbour is right at the core, not only of what Jesus taught, but of the radical, counter-cultural treatment of strangers and migrants found in the Old Testament law.* We are called to love those who live close to us, perhaps especially when they are culturally, economically or racially different to us, while still faithfully looking to Jesus as our only ultimate hope for lasting joy and peace. As a country, we are realising that recent political changes, poverty, and uncertainty, have brought tensions to the surface which have resulted in a sharp rise in hate crimes and racial abuse, as well as a general climate of fear and mistrust across cultural lines. Birmingham, as a ‘city of refuge’ with a struggling budget, has felt this more than most. As a church, however, we are not surprised, and our response is to remain faithful to what we have already been doing and to explore other ways to live Jesus words.

The world we live in is broken, full of dishonesty and fear, but it is also a world into which God has come, full of truth and grace, to help us change the world by changing us and calling us to step fearlessly into self-giving love of those with whom we share it. Loving our neighbours isn’t new – we’ve been doing this for a long time - but we can hear the cry of the kingdom we live in and respond to it by making our voices louder with news of the kingdom where our real citizenship is. We can respond to migration with GrowBaby, with clothes and supplies for small children in need, with free English lessons, with Foodbank parcels, with friendships on Sundays and through our communities, and with prayer. We can buy coffee for our colleague who voted differently, take a struggling family out to lunch, or pray for our neighbours of a different faith or none.

Over the next few weeks, why not challenge yourself to follow Jesus’ second-greatest commandment, take extra steps to reach out to those around us in all sorts of ways, then share what God’s doing on Facebook, twitter and Instagram, with the hashtag #loveyourneighbour, so more people get to see and celebrate what it looks like to live for a kingdom where the stranger is welcomed in and darkness is no more.

*E.g. Deuteronomy 10:19; see also Matthew 5:43-44, Luke 10:27.