We all met together on Thursday evening to re-focus our minds ready for 2019, and to share together the direction that we feel God is taking us in for this year
We briefly reviewed 2018 which was themed 'YEAR OF ACCELERATION' alongside all of our Church of the Nations family churches. For us it certainly was an intense year in many ways. We ran Freedom in Christ and the Grace course which were both very challenging for many of our members. We also stepped up our level of serving the community with our 'Len Valley Ranch' burger stall at the Lenham Festival, and increased our collaboration with our Anglican friends in the Len Valley Benefice. We also undertook a 'ring of fire' prayer walk around our area, as well as our usual cell groups and Sunday celebrations.
Following on from that, at Pathways we have chosen the phrase 'ON THE WAY' to be our theme for 2019, as it captures the sense of moving forward into everything God has called us to do; both old and new things. Johnny shared that he has felt God impressing upon him that we should 'do something new' this year, and that God would bless us as we step out into new things.
One NEW thing planned is a potential trip to THE HAGUE to visit friends This looks most likely to be during the October half term (Thursday to Sunday), so keep those dates free just in case!
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
One of our strengths is that we have a very clear and simple vision statement that God gave us when we launched the church, and that we have stayed within the boundaries of that and managed to achieve it in many ways. Therefore we have organised our plans and dreams for 2019 around the headings of our vision statement.
Being a Loving Family
Cells and Celebrations will continue in the same pattern and format that we started in September. We also hope to visit some other churches in our Church of the Nations Cluster and organise some preaching swaps! Of course we will, as usual, also have some social events during the year where we can just chill out and have fun together.
Jenny shared our exciting NEW teaching theme for 2019 which is the gospel of Mark (from January leading up to Easter), then the book of Acts after Easter leading up to the summer. We will be looking at these book in both the cells and the Sunday celebrations.
Keeping Christ at the centre
Estelle shared what God has placed on her heart regarding walking and praying along the ancient pathways of the UK. With that in mind we will arrange some regular Saturday family walks around the area, where we can socialise, but also pray and proclaim God's word as we do so.
Another exciting NEW development for this year is that Dave Cape, who heads up Acts Life Cluster, is planning to walk the Pilgrim's Way on mission during August and September. We are situated right on the Pilgrim's Way so this is a great opportunity for us.
Serving our community
We will continue to be involved in the Lenham Family Festival, and Jenny and Gail are both on the committee this year. We will also help in some way at the Christmas Lights day
"ALTHOUGH YOU ARE SMALL, YOU ARE MIGHTY!"
Estelle closed by sharing the above phrase that God gave her for us:
We are being encouraged to believe what God says about us, not what it looks like in the natural. Although it feels like we are doing small things, the impact will be far greater than we imagine, for we serve a Mighty God!
In October, leaders from the Acts Life Cluster (of which we are part) joined together with Freedom Hill Cluster in the beautiful surroundings of Windsor for a weekend away.
Here is reflection on the weekend by Karen Brookchild.
When we were invited to go to the cluster weekend I was determined not to have any expectations, I just wanted to be open to what God was saying. However, I was excited at the chance to see some people that we had not seen for a while.
The hotel was lovely, the food was delicious and the staff served us incredibly well. We were quite late arriving as we had to finish work and get changed before setting off. On arrival we bumped in to Alex and Dorcas from a church in London, they recognised us and greeted us warmly. Louis Els spoke that evening about spiritual momentum and gave us a check list to go through.
Over breakfast the next morning we had an opportunity to share this checklist with a lady at a different conference, who was there seeking answers to a disease she had protracted. She shared much of her life story with us and before she went I felt prompted to ask if she had faith and offer to pray for her. After praying we did not expect to see her again.
More great teaching and opportunities to socialise followed. Imagine our surprise we we bumped into our new friend again! She thanked us for our prayers and declared they had already been answered as she had spoken to one of the top doctors who had offered her treatment. We prayed again and gave her our phone number, offering to pray any time she asked us too.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take
Upon reflection, I realised we had done what God was commissioning us to do through Dave Cape's message. He said nurture people, disciple them, encourage them. We looked after this lady, encouraged her with words and by prayer and we discipled her, demonstrating prayer.
I have been considering God's grace a lot as we go through the Grace Course and thinking about what it means to be available. The thing with availability is, you have no control over what you are available for, it's not like going for a job interview where you choose what you available to do. You trust your heavenly Father to send something or someone your way and you do what is required.
Trusting God can be hard at first as we have been let down by others so many times. However, it is well worth taking the risk because He always knows best, leading on paths of righteousness, extending grace and mercy to us each day.
Our Pathways elders: Jenny, Dave, Johnny and Estelle, enjoying time in Windsor
You may also be interested to read the following article about the weekend by Hazel Pattison from Jubilee Church
It was that time of year again - the Lenham family festival was upon us, and this year Pathways took up the exciting challenge of providing Western Style burgers for hungry festival goers.
After some lively planning sessions we came up with the idea of 'Len Valley Ranch'. A huge amount of skill and creativity went into the design of the stall. A big thank you goes to the Brookchild family and to Dee for all their hard work in making it become a reality. Everyone agreed that it looked lovely and welcoming.
When the weekend arrived we put up marquees, flipped burgers, took orders and many other things. People ate 'The Good', 'The Bad' and 'The Ugly' burgers, accompanied by 'The Magnificent Seven' sauces. All in all it was an exhausting time but great fun. It was great to see so many families enjoying time together, and it was a privilege to be able to help make that happen.
.Jenny and Holly opened up the afternoon's entertainment by singing on the outside stage. Other people from Pathways manned the information desk and gave out balloons. The electrical team was headed up by Dave. They struggled to find enough power for the stage and all the stallholders, but succeeded in the end after some perseverance and teamwork.
Sometime in the middle of all of this you could be forgiven for wondering what this is all about. Is this part of the abundant life Jesus spoke about? Should we always serve like this? I guess it is about attitude and motive: do all things without complaining and love your neighbour as you love yourself.
We showed that the Church can have fun, do things well and care for people. Yes, we took some flack along the way and our relationships were somewhat tested. After all the preparation, the setting up, the serving and putting away, it felt like we all needed a week's holiday!
But at the end of the day we are still:
A loving family
Keeping Christ at the centre
As we care for our community.
During the early May bank holiday, Pathways elders Johnny, Estelle, Dave and Jenny journeyed to Sidmouth to join with other church leaders from the Acts Life Cluster. Pathways is part of the family called Church of the Nations, and Acts Life is a smaller group of churches that relate as a family within that. Acts Life is headed up by Dave and Carol Cape, who were with us over the weekend. There were also leaders from South Africa, London, and other parts of the UK.
Part of the aim of the weekend was to spend time together and build friendships. This was achieved over some leisurely meal times with plenty of time to talk, and also with free time in the afternoons where we could enjoy exploring Sidmouth in the sun. Some even went for a swim!
Accelerating the dream
Another objective was to provide helpful input for the church leaders, and this input was based around the theme 'Accelerating the Dream'.
Hazel shared about how some dreams have to be laid down in order for God to bring something new. Some things need to die, and we let God choose which are resurrected and which are not. Dan talked about 'dreaming kingdom' and what that looked like in the book of Acts in the bible. He compared 'pipe dreams' which are 'I' based to 'Kingdom dreams' which are God based
We had a special treat on the Saturday evening when Mike Davies joined us from Okehampton. He is a church leader, politician and has been the Mayor of Okehampton several times. He was a delight to listen to, and reminded us what it's all about; walking with Jesus, being ourselves, and going out to be a light in the community.
On the Sunday Claire shared about engaging people in the dream, Neil shared about Navigating the Changing dream, and Kara reminded us to keep in mind what we are leaving for the next generation. Dave Cape rounded off our teaching by reminding us that nothing is impossible with God.
On the final morning Josh spoke about turning passion into purpose. Blair encouraged us not to give up if our dream seems to unravel, but to look to God. Dan wrapped up the morning with some practical pointers.
The weekend finished with sharing communion together.
Dave Cape spoke some prophetic words. Some people washed each other's feet. Others prayed together and spoke words of encouragement. Altogether it was a perfect way to finish an uplifting weelend
The overriding sense throughout it all was that God is doing something new among many of us, both individually and in the churches we lead. There was one song which seemed to some up the message of the weekend, which is 'New wine' by Hillsong Worship, and I will leave you with that song.
A more comprehensive set of notes can be downloaded here.
By Jenny Needham
Sunday 29th April was a significant day for the churches in Lenham. Over 80 people joined together in Lenham community centre for a combined act of worship. This included people from the four churches in the Len Valley benefice together with members of Pathways church who hosted the event. There were all ages present, from young children and families to older folk.
We started the morning with coffee and catching up with each other, leading into a fun time of writing poems in small groups. This proved to be very popular and we discovered some enthusiastic poets among us as we considered the beauty of the area that we have the privilege of living in. Musicians from the various churches joined together to form a combined worship band, leading us in an uplifting time of singing, focusing our attention and worship onto the greatness of the God that we all serve.
Rev John Huggins from the Benefice led us into communion, and it was wonderful to have leaders from Pathways serving alongside leaders from the Benefice, and to see everyone receiving communion together. Then Johnny McCabe from Pathways spoke, and brought a clear message encouraging us all to express the love of Jesus by serving our community.
A collection of over £300 was taken which will go to the Katie Piper Foundation. Thank you everyone for your generosity.
We finished with drinks, and wonderful cakes provided by the ladies of Pathways. The mood was upbeat, and the comments were positive. For some the style was different to what they were used to, but all agreed that it had been a good morning, and that we should do it again in the future!
This year at Pathways we are picking up the theme of 'acceleration' which has been embraced by the Apostolic Council as a word for the whole of Church of the Nations for 2018. As I was thinking about this subject, I realised that God had given me a rather good illustration.
Last autumn I started having problems with my car. I would be driving along and the power would just cut dramatically. This could be awkward in traffic. I discovered that if I put my foot to the floor the car would go normally, but it probably wasn't very good for fuel economy! Then one day it didn't work to put my foot down and it just got worse. I ended up having to drive with low power for a quite a few weeks.
Have you ever tried to drive with no acceleration? I discovered how many hills there are on my way home! I started looking forward to the downward stretches where I could get up a reasonable speed. But there is a very long hill where I would try and get a good speed up, but by the time I got half way up the hill I would have dropped to 20-30mph. Any cars in the distance would catch up really quickly and I would be very embarrassed! Eventually I got to the stage where I would turn off the main road before the hill and go home along the country lanes where nobody expected a car to go fast.
I started getting really annoyed if people pulled out in front of me. They would pull out and then speed off into the distance, leaving me unable to accelerate back up! One time there was a car stuck behind me for ages. Eventually the car sped past us, and I realised that it was a friend of mine! I never asked him about it.
We need acceleration to start something new.
When you start from standing still it is hard to pick up momentum. Here at Pathways lots of the things we are doing are new, and that’s when you really need good acceleration because it takes more effort.
We need acceleration during uphill times.
Difficult times in our life can feel like going uphill. Nehemiah taught us to expect challenges if we are building God's kingdom, and during these times we find out how well (or not) we are functioning as a team and as individuals. If you have built up some momentum then it is easier to keep going, so when things are working well press in and make the most of it.
We need acceleration to overtake
Overtaking was not really on my mind at that time because I just wanted to get where I needed to without embarrassment. We can also get into a survival mode in our lives. But sometimes we do need to accelerate to overtake or to get out of danger.
Strategies I tried for coping with lack of acceleration.
Push harder! At first I tried pressing the pedal down harder, which worked for a while but the fuel economy was not so good. So the trouble with just pushing harder is that it takes more out of us! We have to try a lot harder to get things done and we get tired easily. Other areas of our life suffer. We can also end up ignoring the fact that there is a problem and spend our whole lives exhausted.
Avoid the things we find difficult: I went on some torturous routes to avoid the hills on my way home! I was just happy to get home each day but it took longer than it should have. We find lots of ways of working around situations to avoid facing them, but the danger is that we get used to making detours. One day we could find ourselves in a place where there isn't an alternative, and then we can run into trouble.
The best solution is to sort out the problem!
I took my car to the garage which was a rather long saga. They misdiagnosed the problem a few times then finally they said it was the turbocharger which would cost £2800 to fix. I may as well have written the car off, so we asked a friend to have a look. When he took the turbocharger out, he found that a small lever on the back had got stuck. After cleaning it and making sure it was moving freely he put everything back. The car worked fine and we didn't even have to buy a new part.
Search me, God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Some lessons I learnt:
We need to look under the bonnet to find out what the problem is
We don’t always realise the value of looking beneath the surface of our own lives. There could be all sorts of things causing us problems, for example fears, bad experiences and hurts, strongholds and curses just to name a few.
God is the only one who can diagnose the issue properly.
Like the garage we might assume it is one problem when it is in fact another. In all my years of listening to God I have come to realise that he is very interested in transforming my character. He is committed to removing hindrances so I can function well in life.
The problem might look a lot worse than it is
Many of us are already aware of areas where we struggle and they can seem too hard to deal with or change. But like my turbocharger it might only take a small adjustment to change the whole situation!
Prevention is better than cure
We all know it's dangerous not to have our car serviced regularly. Why is it any less so for human beings? We can make it a regular part of our lives to allow God to transform and heal us. Don't wait until we fail or struggle in a situation.
As we receive this word 'acceleration' for 2018, I think it would be a good time to let God under the surface of our lives so He can prepare our hearts and minds ready for what's ahead.
By Jenny Needham
Today was a special day for Pathways.
Dave and Carol Cape were with us again. They came to pray for and commission Johnny, Estelle, Dave and Jenny as elders, with Johnny and Estelle as the lead couple. Pathways was also formally . welcomed into the Acts Life Cluster which is a group of churches within Church of the Nations.
We were joined by leaders from Jubilee Church Maidstone and Seven Pillars Church Croydon, John Huggins the new Vicar from the Len Valley Benefice and his wife Lorraine, plus other friends. The morning was precious as both the two couples and the congregation made promises towards each other before God.
Dave Cape then spoke about alignment, although he could have entitled his message 'positioned for blessing'. He spoke to us about how aligning ourselves in a godly way releases blessing into our lives. Spiritual blessing, financial blessing and favour will all follow us if we do what God says and align ourselves correctly with those in authority over us, just as Peter did with Jesus (Matthew 16:14-19).
Louise, Rani and Keith had prepared a wonderful buffet for afterwards and we enjoyed time together, sharing the things that God is doing in our lives and encouraging one another on to new things.
It was the culmination of a very special weekend. Pathways had teamed up with Jubilee to host around 50 church leaders from the Acts Life Cluster at various venues around Lenham on the Friday and Saturday, based mainly at the Dog and Bear Hotel. The time included some teaching and input from Tony and Marilyn Fitzgerald, lots of catching up with each other, and a walk to the chalk cross on the hill where we prayed over the Len Valley area.
Tired, but content we went home and back to our daily lives, knowing something had changed in the heavenly realm that could usher in a new chapter for the Len Valley.
This morning we all came together after the summer holidays. There was a gentleness about the mood of the morning, a quiet calm before the season of work begins. People seemed content but ready.
Johnny shared from the book of Nehemiah regarding the preparation that went into repairing the walls of Jerusalem. Nehemiah enquired of the Lord what he would have him do about the state of the walls. In the light of some of the atrocities and sad situations that we are aware of in the world rebuilding walls almost seems frivolous. But walls were very important then. Walls protected, marked out territory, and gave people somewhere to belong.
Nehemiah led the people while they stood against ridicule and oppression during the reconstructive work. As Johnny said they worked with a sword in one hand and a trowel in the other; the sword representing the word of God, used in spiritual battles.
We are moving into a new season. As yet we do not know what will be required of us. But just like those people back then we must first seek God, then we should pull together, working towards the common goal.
The walls we are building are the walls of the kingdom. God protects us, marks us as different from other people and we belong to him. Within this work, some of us, like Nehemiah, will have to learn to lead others, being brave and bold. Other of us will work on the walls with a sword and a trowel in hand.
Johnny encouraged us to read about Nehemiah in preparation for the new season. I trust that the Lord will speak to us all as we wait on Him.
This Wednesday marked our last official night together as cells before we all rest and revitalise over the summer.
We shared curries from all over the world, beautiful salads, bread, rice, pickles and delicious puddings. We watched Johnny and Estelle perform 'magic', a clever game, designed to confound you but keep you guessing how it is done. Louise showed that she is super observant! People made their best smile and 'Shrek face'. For the rest of the evening we just chatted.
Johnny thanked everyone for their commitment to cell life, apologising for the times when he wasn't best prepared, but as Holly said it didn't matter because folks were together enjoying each other's company.
As I watched, people were genuinely interested in one another's lives, listening to stories with enthusiasm or sympathy, whatever was needed. Pathways church at it's best. You see we are the church, it's not where we meet but who is there. Each one bringing their all, their gifting, their uniqueness, their love and their passions. Jesus's church is built person by person not brick by brick. Bricks bring no life, and can be destroyed so easily.
The church will endure, as people's lives are changed and given up freely, bringing the Spirit of the Lord to the place where they are, as we are told in Ephesians 2: 20-22.
"built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit."
We take it in turns to serve at the breakfast service in our local parish church, St Mary's, twice a month.
This service encourages young families to come for breakfast and activities around a theme taken from the bible. For example a recent service was about the story in Genesis when the Lord called Abram and how He provided for Abram, and we finished by praying for different people around the world.
It is a small, fairly simple affair but never the less vital for some families who do not feel they could attend a full meeting with their precious little ones. Toast is munched, tea is drunk and words of encouragement are shared. What a privilege it is for us to go and share in this work, to encourage another part of the body of Christ in our community.
Psalm 133:1-2 expresses this so well - "how good it is for brothers to dwell together in unity, it is like precious oil on the head...".
We are side by side unified by our shared love for our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Agreeing that he was born of a virgin, died on the cross and was raised back to life on the third day. We may have different ideas about how a celebration should run, prefer different songs or use different words when we pray, but we know that the same God is listening and our praises are heard in the same place.