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Minister's Update February/March 2023

1. During Lent I'm preaching on the way of the cross. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus makes it clear that this is a road that not only he, but also his disciples must walk (see Matthew 16:21-28). We'll be looking at what this means for us, especially in the light of the continually deepening secularisation of our culture, and how we may need to step up in the light of increasing hostility towards the Christian faith.

We need to take encouragement, of course, from what we hear and see from many churches and situations in this country and across the world, where the church is growing and both younger and older people are responding to the gospel. The revival in Asbury in America is a case in point. God is easily capable at any time of reviving his people and making them fruitful. If he can do it in one place, he can do it in another, so let's work and pray in faith and hope.

2. Care homes. Our ministry in residential homes is becoming more established. It is a real privilege to be able to minister to the residents. Many of them have been lifelong believers and churchgoers, so it is good to be able to share God's word and worship with them. Others still do not know Christ as their saviour, so we also have the opportunity of sharing the gospel with them.

Our regular bookings are in Woodside Care Home in Padiham, on the second Monday of every month, and Belvedere Care Home in Colne, on the first Monday and third Sunday of every month. Your prayers would be appreciated for this very rewarding ministry.

3.Outreach. Our engagement with the wider community continues with Toddle In To Church, the Men's and Ladies' breakfasts, the work in the churchyard and occasional Afternoon Teas. I also have regular contact with those outside the church through weddings and funerals. Please include these endeavours in your prayers, as we always long to see those we come into contact with come to faith, fellowship and discipleship. There will be an afternoon tea sometime around Easter.

We mustn't forget, of course, that in our everyday lives we are all in contact with those who do not know Christ. We need to be in prayer for one another that the witness of our lives and our words will be fruitful, and we need to be aware that God is present in all our encounters.

We realise that we always need to be open to God's leading for more outreach and witness opportunities, along with the wisdom and courage to make the most of them for him. The fact is that, inline with national and wider church trends, we are a congregation which is not getting any younger. We believe that God wants to build his church in this and future generations, and that he has work for us to do in cooperation with and obedience to him in order to bring this about. We must therefore always be open to God about how he wants to build his church and where the next generation will come from.

We rightly give thanks when we see younger parents and children in church, but we also long to see them come to a real settled faith and full ownership of their places and roles in the fellowship. Let's be alive to the leading of God's Holy Spirit as we prayerfully consider these things.

4. Supporting a Ukrainian Family. Someone in our fellowship has a house available which they want to use to accommodate a family from Ukraine. There is a lot to do in order to make this happen, and help will be needed in the short and long term. More details will follow shortly, but please pray about what help you might be able to offer.

5. Small Groups. We continue to meet for prayer at 7:00 on Tuesday mornings and on Zoom, or in church at 7:30 on Tuesday evenings, and for fellowship and engagement with the bible on Thursday afternoons at 1:00 and Thursday evenings on Zoom or in church at 7:30. We are also considering what opportunities there may to start new small group meetings. People's lives are very varied these days and it is difficult to find times when everybody is available.

Small groups are a vital way of engaging with our faith outside Sunday morning worship. They encourage more interactive participation and help us to understand how our faith relates to the realities of our everyday lives. Please let us know if you would like to attend a small group but cannot come to any of our existing ones. We will do our best to help.

Another issue we often find with small groups is that they can quickly become perceived as 'exclusive' and so some people find it difficult to join them. Rest assured that this is not the case with any of our small groups. You will always be made welcome.

7. Opportunities to serve. As time goes on and the ministry of our fellowship continues to grow and develop, we will need to see more people stepping up to take on roles and responsibilities. Please pray about whether God may be calling you to help out with Toddle In To Church, making tea and coffee on a Sunday morning, helping the working party in the churchyard, helping out with the children's work on Sundays, doing prayers and readings during the service, or welcoming people coming into church. If you want to get involved, please let us know.

Please remember I am always available for prayer, ministry or company. Call me on 07597 387719.

Love and blessings