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Love:Nations Xtra 2021

Posted by Chris Mason
on 8th March 2021

Once a year, our hub (the smaller part of the Catalyst family we are connected to) gathers together to seek God's heart for the nations at a conference hosted by Mosaic Church, called Love:Nations.

This year, with all the restrictions, Love:Nations looked slightly different.  The main event was a prayer evening celebrating and praying for the nations, online, on Sunday 7th March. There were over 140 households gathered together, praying in many languages from churches all across our hub - it was incredible!

What is our Hub?  We have the privilege of being part of an incredible family of Churches working together to make disciples of all nations.  As part of the NewFrontiers family of churches, we are part of a smaller family, 'Catalyst', and as part of Catalyst we're part of a hub - a smaller group of churches led by Matt Hatch (Team leader at Mosaic Church, Leeds); planting churches, making disciples and encouraging one another as we grow.  Gathering together to pray at Love:Nations was a unique way we could, in this different of seasons, express our unity, our family and our love for the churches God has partnered us with.

Alongside the prayer evening, our Hub produced an intro to the Hub - available at 55mins into our Sunday Gathering from 7th March - available here.  We also have some one-off talks from a guest speaker, Simon Guillebaud (an international missionary, missions thinker, author and speaker) - these are available below.

We love the nations and pray you are encouraged as you pray and hear Gods heart for the nations!

 

 

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A new Church for the city of Bradford and a new era for The Oak Church.

Posted by Graham French
on 21st January 2021

In 2011, Chris and Lisa led a team from Mosaic Church, Leeds, to plant The Oak Church.  Ten years on, The Oak is sending them again to plant a new church in Bradford.

Starting churches is a biblical strategy to outwork the great commission to go into all the nations and make disciples.  We have always known as a church that we would plant again…it was just a matter of when and how.

We understand that sending Chris and Lisa, for some, is tricky.  And that there is a mix of emotions.  But we are confident in God’s plan for The Oak and for the next steps in Bradford.

We thought it helpful to write some brief comments on some questions that have come up as we have announced the news of the new plant.

1. When will the new church be planted?

We hope to send Chris and Lisa and their team at some point in July with the aim of beginning the plant in the autumn.  We are hoping for an easing of restrictions so we can send them face-to-face - we want to do this prayerfully, joyfully and together!

2. Where will the new church be planted?

Chris and Lisa live in the south-east of Bradford but have the city on their heart.  Whilst the strategy at this stage is unclear, God has been speaking to them about serving the whole city and about diversity.

3. Who will go with Chris & Lisa in the new team?

Anyone at The Oak is free to seek God about joining the team.  Being part of a church planting team is incredibly exciting and also a big commitment - there aren’t all the usual ‘established’ ministries and pastoral structures to call on.  With that in mind, Chris and Lisa are asking people who are considering going to: a) seek and hear clearly from God to go, b) enter into discussion with Chris and Lisa and the Senior Leadership Team at The Oak about suitability and timing, c) be willing to move to Bradford. 

4. Will the new church be a multi-site gathering of The Oak or an autonomous new church?

The new church will be planted similarly to how The Oak was planted - as a separate and autonomous church plant.  That means that when we send them, they will have the freedom to plant with a new vision and new structure, with the direction of our Hub family led by Matt Hatch.  We will continue to pray, serve, give to and bless the church plant ensuring, as far as is possible its success.  

5. Why a new church and not a multi-site gathering?

Last summer God began to speak to the Senior leadership Team about multiplication.  At the time, the most natural way was to consider going multi-site - that means The Oak would be one church with multiple Sunday Gatherings.  Through the autumn God began to speak to Chris and Lisa, and the Senior Leadership Team, through a string of prophetic words, that The Oak is strong and that it was time to go.  We were also reminded of a prophetic word given to us as a church at Love:Nations four years ago - “you’re to go to Bradford, God is giving you licence to do things differently”.  A new church plant allows Chris and Lisa to plant with fresh vision and the freedom to plant a church culturally relevant to the city of Bradford.  As a team, we have weighed these words, alongside Matt Hatch and our Hub family, and we feel this is the right move for Chris and Lisa and the right move for the next era of The Oak.    

6. Who will lead The Oak?

The Senior Leadership Team lead The Oak together and with plurality.  Chris’ role is to lead our team and we are praying about who will take on this role in the long term.  Matt Hatch and the team have confidence in the Senior Leadership Team leading together as we send Chris and Lisa.  Dan Kingsley will continue to chair our team meetings as he has done for the last few years.

7. Will the Senior Leadership Team grow as Chris leaves?

We have been putting plans in place to grow the Senior Leadership Team in the coming months and years for some time now and will continue this process.  We usually invite someone to sit in on the team while we, and the apostolic team serving us, weigh ‘Character’, ‘Competency’, and ‘Chemistry’ before bringing their official joining to the church family to weigh.  

8. Will we appoint more elders alongside Graham?

We are in the process of weighing and talking with Senior Leadership Team members as to their suitability and calling into the role of elder.  We fully intend to have a plurality of elders within our Senior Leadership Team before Chris steps down but are trusting in God for this process - this is not a management position but a calling of God to serve the church in a very specific way and so needs to be done as God leads.

9. Who will do Chris’ paid role and responsibilities?

We have allocated funds for the autumn term to be able to release paid staff time into different areas of the church life enabling us to grow into the next season. We have worked hard since Chris’ sabbatical two years ago to ensure the responsibilities in the church are more evenly spread across the Senior Leadership Team and other Team Leaders in the church ensuring any one member's departure would not cause problems.  We are now in the process of working out the transitionary process of Chris’s specific responsibilities to the rest of the team alongside staffing in the most appropriate way to ensure the church’s growth in the future. The Senior Leadership Team at the Oak is responsible for leading the direction and vision of The Oak. Although it’s common in many churches that some of those leading are paid staff members (and currently for us both Chris and Elea are), this isn’t essential for a thriving local church. In fact in the New Testament, those leading churches were commonly also involved in other paid work outside of the church. We believe in the priesthood of all believers - that means we’re all involved in caring for one another...not just our staff - this releases our leaders to pray and govern the church.  We are really passionate about caring, supporting and pastoring each other out of relationship and through our Life Groups and Community Groups.

10.  Why now?  We’re in the middle of a pandemic.

The church (historically) has often multiplied in seasons of change and in seasons of difficulty.  The early church was scattered because of persecution and grew as a result.  There are many churches across the country and across the world growing and multiplying in this season - God seems to be on the move.  We have considered the timing a great deal but feel that at some point we must move beyond waiting for the season to end into adapting to the season we find ourselves in - that point for us is this summer.  It will take some time, probably years, for the nation to find new ways of moving forward post-COVID - we want to lean into God's purposes and plans and act with faith when he speaks.  This all means things may look different to how we expected both at The Oak and in the plant, but we are confident in God’s unfailing love and unimaginable care.

11.  Who will The Oak look to for apostolic input? 

The Oak will continue to look to the Catalyst Hub team led by Matt Hatch for its apostolic oversight.  Andy Bramall, a leader at City Church, Newcastle (one of our Hub churches) has been helping the Senior Leadership Team over the past few years and will continue to serve in that role where needed.  

12. Will we change our vision to not include East Bradford anymore as we will have a plant there?

We have always carried the vision of serving West Leeds and East Bradford and will continue to carry that vision with members of our church family living and working in Bradford.  One of the ways we are seeking to outwork that vision is to plant a new church.  In time we would love to plant more churches, more gatherings and more Community Groups across West Leeds and East Bradford, Yorkshire, the UK and the nations.  

13. How will the new church plant work financially?

The new church plant will operate financially independent of The Oak but under the same charity, Mosaic Church Ltd.  The new church plant will be responsible for its own staffing and resources.  However, The Oak will be giving to the new church plant from it’s reserves and from a Special Offering to be taken later in the spring.  Our Catalyst Hub is also backing the new church plant with a financial gift.  

14. What about Chris’ links with the nations, with Andrei Bondarenko and the team in Ukraine?

The Oak will continue to develop existing international relationships throughout Catalyst and Newfrontiers.  Where these have been primarily connected to Chris, the Senior leadership Team will work out the best route forward; either continuing to connect or forging new relationships where God leads.  Andrei Bondarenko and his team in Ukraine remain supportive and in prayer for The Oak, including speaking at The Oak later in the term and are helping Chris and Lisa to prepare for the plant.  

So, how do we respond as we enter this new era?  In prayer.  Let's pray together for faith and courage as we get caught up in God's big mission to see the world transformed through Jesus' power to change lives. 

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What’s stopping me?

Posted by Lisa Mason
on 17th January 2021

Each of my children relate to me in completely different ways, I love how unique they are and how rewarding it is for me when I take the time to know and understand the complexities of their hearts and frames. But there are many times in their weeks or even days when my children don’t reach for me in their distress. Their feelings of anger, hurt, guilt, fear or shame cause them to push me away and seek their own solutions for their problems. There’s not a huge amount I can do to help them when they feel this way, except to keep loving them faithfully on my own terms, refusing to be the monster they have made me out to be in their heads, persistently reaching for them and demonstrating my love, even when my actions and words are ignored or rebuffed.

Chris preached at the Oak Church this morning about the three ways we relate to God as a church family. We relate UP; towards God, growing up in him and allowing him to deepen our faith and fill us with his Holy Spirit. We relate IN; towards our church family, encouraging one another towards Jesus, serving and blessing one another. We relate OUT: towards the people all around us, seeking to care for everyone we meet and demonstrate the love of God to the entire world. During his talk, Chris asked the question ‘What stops you from growing up in God?’ and it got me pondering. It’s not an easy question to answer and possibly one that we all need to spend some time thinking about this week.

Perhaps the most obvious way to respond to this question is to attempt to fix ourselves by looking at our schedules and trying to spend more time with God. Maybe you heard it and felt guilty that your quiet times with God should be longer, you might have made a mental note to set your alarm a little earlier on Monday morning. There is nothing wrong with that, but when your alarm wakes you up and you sit with your bible open on your lap, you might find that the barriers between you and God are all still there if you don’t let him pick a little deeper.

What things in my heart are getting in the way of my relationship with God? What is stopping me from reaching for him? How do I see God right now? If I was being truly honest, what do I really think is his attitude towards me, his opinion of me in this place?

Do you have ten minutes today to take yourself for a walk or sit in a quiet place and ask yourself these questions? I can’t tell you the answers. But I do know that God loves an honest conversation with your heart, more than all the pretence and putting on a brave face that we often try to get away with. If you hate him right now, he would much rather you told him to his face than left that hurt inside. If you are angry or confused, he would rather you brought those feelings before him, instead of trying to press on and hold it all together.

I am not a perfect Mum. Too often the pain that my children are experiencing has been caused by my own mistakes in the first place. But I know for certain that God is a perfect Father. His love for us does not fluctuate or change. His presence never leaves us. His words and promises hold true. Through the awful things that you may have encountered recently, he has been right there with you, weeping with you, compassionate towards you, desperate for you to know his love, comfort and goodness.

If you have been feeling far from God or disconnected from him in some way, don’t rush to the point where you try to move on and be OK with God again. Try to sit with your honest thoughts and questions for a while, ask God what he thinks about them. We can feel naked, dirty and vulnerable when we come before God just as we are, how much more would we prefer to be perfect when we enter his presence? But that responsibility falls on him, not us. He washes our wounds and dirt away, gently with his words, he clothes us with his own robes, radiant and clean, he sees our fragility and promises not to crush us or snuff us out and he does this in his own perfect timing. When we truly see and acknowledge our own weakness and pain and accept that we have no physical way of saving ourselves, then we can constantly receive his love and mercy with gratitude and joy.

1 Peter 2: 2-3 ‘Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.’

Originally posted on Lisa's blog.

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