A couple of months ago if you had mentioned the word 'zoom' in church, the picture coming to mind would be of singing a children's song and pretending to be aeroplanes ('let's zoom around the room and praise the Lord!'). How things have changed in such a short space of time.
Zoom is now a common word in church circles. We have Zoom celebrations, Zoom cell groups, Zoom bible studies, Zoom leaders meetings and Zoom coffee meetings, to name but a few! It has certainly been a very steep learning curve for some, but once the initial shock died down, it was a challenge that we have risen to with great adaptivity.
One advantage that we have already discovered, is that people can join in who would otherwise struggle to come to a physical meeting. Some people have young children at home, making it hard to come out in the evenings. Others have been ill, but are still able to join in from their beds! Some people live further away, and we have even had a friend joining us from South Africa. It was strange to think that in one celebration we had people who live across the road from each other joining online with others who live the other side of the world. Technology makes distance inconsequential.
Another positive outcome is that we have all had to face our fears of using online forums, so as well as Zoom, we have used Whatsapp groups and video calls to create a sense of community, and to encourage each other. We have explored various potential options for streaming meetings online. We have watched what other churches are doing, partly to keep in touch and also to learn from them!
We have quickly had to learnt how to record and edit worship for sharing within our celebrations, and to record talks and teaching for our midweek groups. This has led to the advantage that those who were not available at the time of the meeting could catch up at their leisure. There is much to think about regarding how we can continue to use some of these new tools in the future, even after we can meet together physically again.
One does wonder occasionally on Zoom, whether people are more interested in viewing their latest haircuts (or lack of) and catching up with each other than they are interested in the subject of the meeting. I suspect they are, and that of course is exactly how it should be. People matter more than things. Social distancing and being under lockdown have certainly not hindered our sense of family. On the contrary, it has clarified what is really important, and if anything, the desire to keep in touch with each other has increased.
People matter more than things
Of course some do struggle to connect via technology, and it has been a challenge to help those people still feel part of the family through other ways. We do dearly miss being able to physically meet together. We have coined an expression called 'Holly-hugs', after the lovely lady of that same name. This is the gold standard of hugs at Pathways church, and is generally agreed to be what our people miss most about being together! Once we are able to meet again physically, I suspect that we will do a lot more eating meals together and just generally enjoying each other's company.
All are welcome to join with us at any of our celebrations and cell group meetings. Even if you just want to join in the background and watch quietly, that’s fine. If you would like us to send you the link, please email us at email@example.com
By Jenny Needham
I have often wondered what it would be like to be part of the Underground church in countries where the church is persecuted and seemingly invisible.
Well, we are about to experience something similar, obviously without persecution but certainly restricted from meeting!! The recent global events that started in the East has now moved West like a tsunami and we found ourselves engulfed by it in a manner that few of us could have imagined. However, the British people are no stranger to these kinds of circumstances and maybe we will get to experience a bit of the Blitz spirit ourselves. However, I am not trying to make light of the situation, I know it is serious.
We believe it is right and biblical to support the government in its strategy to limit the impact of the virus in it’s spread across this nation. We will therefore no longer be able to meet for Sunday celebrations, and we will not be meeting for weekly cells.
All of this will enable us to become creative in the ways that we maintain fellowship and close contact with one another. We are looking into other Apps that will enable us to hold online meetings together; we are hoping to launch this soon. Although we will not be together physically, we will make sure that we are all supporting one another in other ways. Please make sure you stay in contact with those that are vulnerable or in self-isolation, cell leaders will stay in contact with their groups regularly throughout this time. Let us keep up our quiet times in prayer and reading the bible.
If you find yourself feeling anxious about the situation, get in touch. I will always keep my phone on, but if you can’t get through, leave me a message and I will call you back as soon as I am able. Do let us know if you need anything, and as in Acts 2:24, we will try to keep open hearts and be generous in spirit towards one another, sharing what we have. Please be assured of our love and commitment towards all of you and we will come through this much stronger in faith, and I may even become more IT literate!
I will send more information as we have it or, if the situation changes, I will update you accordingly.
Lots of love
On behalf of the elders at Pathways
These prayers were sent through from St Mary’s Church in Lenham, please be praying for their vicar, John, as he has to self-isolate for 3 months.
Prayers about the outbreak
Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Lord Jesus Christ,
you taught us to love our neighbour,
and to care for those in need
as if we were caring for you.
In this time of anxiety, give us strength
to comfort the fearful, to tend the sick,
and to assure the isolated
of our love, and your love,
for your name’s sake.
God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
For those who are ill
we entrust to your tender care
those who are ill or in pain,
knowing that whenever danger threatens
your everlasting arms are there to hold them safe.
Comfort and heal them,
and restore them to health and strength;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For hospital staff and medical researchers
give skill, sympathy and resilience
to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit,
that through their work many will be restored to health;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
From one who is ill or isolated
help me to trust you,
help me to know that you are with me,
help me to believe that nothing can separate me
from your love
revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.
For the Christian community
We are not people of fear:
we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God,
giving and loving,
wherever we are,
whatever it costs
For as long as it takes
wherever you call us.
It was with great excitement that we welcomed the School of the word team to Lenham on Saturday, to lead us in a morning learning about the bible and the inductive study method.
Emma kicked off the morning by talking about 'what is the bible?' We learned how the bible is written by many authors from all different walks of life, but with one message, that the radical love of God for humanity never ends. The bible mainly follows the story of one nation, who received the promise of a redeemer, how that redeemer came, and how the good news of that redeemer was spread.
Tony talked about some of the different approaches that can be used to study the bible, and Mel finished off the introduction by explaining why we use the inductive study method and what that looks like in practice.
We had a lot of fun in groups trying to piece together the timeline of the bible, and working out where all the different books fit into the overall story. There were varying attempts, with varying degrees of accuracy, but thankfully we were all given the correct timeline at the end by Tony! By now we were looking forward to using the coloured pencils in our welcome packs and diving into reading our bibles!
After a break, we embarked on the second half of the morning, where we actually used the inductive method to look at the letter of Philemon together. This was the highlight of the day. Mel gave us plenty of opportunities to make our own observations, using the coloured pencils to help us focus on the words. We were encouraged to share the things we noticed, and draw out important themes. By the end of the morning there was a sense of hush, as everyone realised that God was speaking to them through the book, and showing them things that they had never seen before. The little book of Philemon had come alive! We finished with some quiet prayer and reflection.
Tony, Mel and Emma did a fantastic job of leading us through the inductive study method, and we extend our heartfelt thanks to them. We got so much out of our time together. We would thoroughly recommend this to anyone wondering about hosting a day at their church.
On the Saturday of the August bank holiday weekend, a group from Pathways joined with other churches from our Cluster at St Augustine's cross near Ramsgate. This marked the official celebration of the start of Walking the Way as written about in our previous post.
As a church we are supporting Dave Cape as he walks the entire Pilgrims way between Ramsgate, Canterbury, Winchester and London, carrying his Cross and Bowl. The Pilgrims Way passes right by our village of Lenham, so it carries a special significance for us.
St Augustine's cross can be found at Cliffsend near Ramsgate, and marks the point which is traditionally thought to be the site of St Augustine's landing on the shores of England in AD 597. A plaque by the cross read that Augustine "preached his first sermon to our countrymen thus he happily planted the Christian faith which marvellously spread throughout the whole of England".
We started our service with some worship, then Dave Cape shared a few words. Neil from Jubilee Church Maidstone told us a bit about the history of the site. We read some bible verses and prayed, before sharing communion together. We also buried a peg with some bible verses written on it in the ground. It was a special time and felt significant.
"Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob. Lift up your heads, you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in."
"Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."
Over the next few weeks we will be following Dave's progress, and walking and praying with him at times, so watch this space for more updates!
An article by Karen Brook-Child.
As we come to the end of our most recent Freedom In Christ course, I think back and realise how much the Lord can show us in 10 short weeks.
We have looked at the truth of the word, how our heavenly Father really sees us, what are godly goals, how to handle our emotions well, forgiving others and much more. Each week is packed full of nuggets of truth delivered in simple language without any frills or fancy, making it accessible to all.
Dave and I facilitate this course because we know that all God needs is us to willingly to give up a little time and be prepared to see to the practical things like, booking the hall, buying the tea and coffee and being bold enough to pray and lead worship. He does the rest, He talks to people, He sets people free and He loves them, completely.
Every time we go through this process, I pick up something timely for me. Nothing massive, yet each time it gets deep down in my very being, making me feel like I have been given a gift so precious it is priceless. This time it was a word that I felt was not just for me, but for the young people and staff that I work with.
Those of you that know me, know that I work with young people with communication and interaction difficulties, and many of them battle with anxiety. In the course, we are told to take every thought captive. Sounds easy? Not always, but think about it like this, it was explained that we are like air traffic controllers. Thoughts fly into our mind and we have the authority to either allow them to stop and 'land' or send them away. I was chatting with our pastoral manager about this and she also said sometimes we need to park thoughts on the side to process later when we are ready either to accept them or send them away. What a great way to take a thought captive, it may help me to not just dismiss things because I don't want to/can't process them immediately.
2 Corinthians 10:5 Amplified Bible
We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ
I thank Jesus that He gives me the truth in the word and them places people around me to help me understand. I can't wait for the next course!
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!