All through the scriptures we hear of God’s people re-telling what God has done and in doing this review of 2017, I seek to give God the glory in terms of what He has done. I’m not here to glory in what we have done as ICF, but I seek to point to what God has done through us and among us and around us.
In January 2017, we started a series on Sunday mornings in 1st Peter entitled – living a Godly Lifestyle.
Now this series was something that was on my heart to preach on towards the end of 2016, and I must say, I was not expecting the series to finish in November 2017 – after all there are only 5 chapters in 1st Peter.
We’ve covered a lot of ground, dealing with subjects like grace, peace, hope, suffering, holiness in our individual lives, holiness in the church, holiness in the world in that we are aliens and strangers in this world. We’ve looked at what it means to obey God and not man, entrusting our hurts and suffering caused by others to Him who judges justly. We’ve looked at home life, the integrity of our characters, the thrill of knowing Jesus. We’ve encouraged ourselves to apply the teaching Peter has given to our minds and to our lives; to let the light of Christ shine through us irrespective of our circumstance, to be humble and to stand firm in our faith in Christ.
In bringing the word of God to you through this series, I have been so challenged in my own life and I trust that challenge has come through to your own lives to live a godly lifestyle where you are, in the circumstance that you find yourself in, because the living hope that we have in Jesus Christ needs to be very real in our hearts as we face on the onslaught of this world and the suffering and trials of many kinds we face, while we are in this world.
In February, we launched small group bible studies. The heart behind these groups was to provide a means of discipleship, for deeper study of the word of God. Discipleship is so important because if we are to make disciples we are to be disciples, so, God willing, more of these groups will be taking place over 2018, and more people will be leading groups. Our vision for these small groups is that they are happening all over the city and beyond, for people to learn together, fellowship together, and grow in their faith together.
The other reason for running these groups was to provide a place where people who come to know Jesus can get ready access to small group bible teaching to allow for nurture and growth. If we are believing for people to come to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour, then we need the infrastructure in place to allow people coming into relation with Christ to grow in their faith, and small group bible study is one such component of that growth.
At the end of 2016, as an eldership, we also believed God was wanting us to focus on mission, and so in February 2017, on Sunday evenings we started bringing teaching on mission, and what it means for us as individuals; because we are all called to be His ambassadors, all called to share Jesus with others.
In March 2017, we just did more of the same; Preaching through 1 Peter, teaching on Mission and running small group bible studies.
In April, we kicked off with Chris Williams’ ordination as a Prophet in the body of Christ. We are so blessed to have 5 fold ministry being recognised in and operating in and from ICF, and we are believing for all 5 ministries of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor and Teacher all to be recognised and all to be operating within ICF. Why? Because they are essential
for the equipping of the body of Christ for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ.
In May, Nick Watson from Brisbane in Australia was over in Scotland again, and we took the opportunity to have him minister among us and once again we were blessed with prophetic words and healing, spoken over, and experienced, in people’s lives and for that we give God glory.
In May we also took part in the National campaign of Thy Kingdom Come to pray for others to come to know Jesus, and we used the Try Praying booklets as a tool to use and then lose, as we gave it away to someone. This was just one outworking of our heart for mission that we believed God was wanting us to focus on in 2017.
June was a special month. We hosted the Big Lunch here in MCC and that was a wonderful way of inviting the community for lunch on us, and around 50-70 people from the community came along to that. It was such a great opportunity to serve the community in which we worship, a great opportunity to meet people in the community; to reach out beyond the walls of the church.
And our heart remains to be church in the community as a pre-requisite to community coming to church. Our heart is to keep looking for those opportunities to bless the community and to minister within the community and the Lord has opened the doors for us to do so in 2017, not only in the big lunch but also in other ways that I will come onto later.
In June we also held a baptismal service with Rachel Spriggs and David Murray going through the waters of baptism and that was such a blessed occasion that gave God the glory. Baptism is not a means of salvation but a public declaration of what has already taken place, and we would want to encourage anyone who knows and loves Jesus as their Saviour to be baptised in water as a public declaration of your faith in Christ. And if you’ve not been baptised as a believer in Jesus, then I would encourage you to be baptised in 2018.
July was another special month. MCC had asked us to run their kids week as part of their 40th celebration and so we ran Superheroes with the centre’s full blessing to tell bible stories and it was a brilliant week. Over 60 children came through the doors for the kids club and all of them went away singing Jesus you’re my superhero!
I feel blessed to know the Lord is opening doors for us to walk though – whether it’s the big lunch or the kids week and my prayer is that we will continue to see God move to open doors for His love to be expressed, not only this community, but in the city of Inverness. We do not despise the day of small things and if we do at least these 2 things again in 2018, then we`re believing we will see more people come and be influenced for Jesus, than we saw in 2017.
July also saw a change of focus for Sunday evenings, by running the Life Explored series over the summer holiday period. For those who attended, it was, on the whole, profitable allowing an missional focus and discuss questions that those who have no knowledge of God may ask, and how we as, those who have Christ in our lives, how we might answer them.
At the end of August we held our annual convention, where our national leader, Tim Jack came and shared with us. What an encouragement and challenge that was to us. He encouraged and challenged us with the importance to get into and be in the presence of God, to get into His presence to gain that renewal for ministry, that recharge for service, that release into action for His glory, and to do the will of God in reaching others for Jesus.
Yet another reminder that all we are and all we do needs to be focused on the Lord and His glory – we had been saying the same thing in different ways throughout the year, and Tim brought that home to us with an authority to encourage us that we’re on the right track with what God is requiring of us.
Through September we continued with our routine activities, and held the Ladies Banquet as an expression of valuing and encouraging the ladies in our fellowship.
And at the end October, the weekly Superheroes kids club started and so far 15 kids have come along to that club and we are believing it will grow as it continues next year. That weekly kids club started with a vision that Karen had, and she came and spoke to us as an eldership to share that vision, and we were delighted to just release her into that with the financial and practical resources needed to get it rolling. Again another example of being church in the community and God opening doors for us to walk through.
You know between the kids week in July and the weekly kids club being run on Monday’s, over 70 different children have come under the influence of the gospel. That’s 70 more than we reached in 2016. And we are believing for many more in 2018, and we are believing that those kids, and their parents, and family members and friends will come to faith in Jesus.
At the start of November, Isobel Watson shared with us on a Sunday evening with a ministry for healing and that was a great evening. Again, Isobel came and shared her heart with us as an eldership and we were only too pleased to provide the opportunity to bring that ministry that we believe God is using her, and will use her, in.
Also in November, Paul Howells came to bring ministry and once more we were encouraged and challenged to be involved in the growing of church. That Jesus is building His church through people like us. Two things that he said really stuck in my mind:
- That vision, faith and obedience is the ready, steady, go of church; but the culture of church (the soil) needs to be healthy to see that vision realised
- Before people meet the Queen, they meet the Queen’s servants – and so before people meet Jesus, they meet us.
He also said that building church is not like building up – like the Tower of Babel to make a name for ourselves, but building out. Stretch the tent pegs, expand the boundary.
And I want you to hear our heart in this. Coming to the eldership team with a vision you have, like Karen did for Superheroes, or a significant word or ministry you feel you have, like Isobel did, communicates to us a humble and servant heart. It allows us to pray together, talk together about how we can help develop, support the ministry. And sometimes we may feel the timing is not right but other times we can say Amen and provide the support (practically and financially) to see a vision or ministry developed. It expands the tent. It stretches the boundaries and that’s what we want to see happen for God’s glory. To influence and impact Inverness, the Highlands and the world, for Jesus
And then finally in December we had our Advent series taken from the gospel of Luke.
Through the year
Running through all of the year have been those regular activities of the weekly prayer meetings – essential because prayer precedes any move of God; we’ve being having the twice monthly ministry into Highview, there has been the monthly cherish and book club meeting, the youth and kids ministry, leadership and eldership meetings, pastoral care, etc.
People have been added to our number, we’ve lost people from our number, but we are more in 2017 than we were in 2016 – God is bringing the increase and we give Him all the glory.
So what’s next?
Well, starting in January 2018 I’m going to be sharing our vision as a church and preaching through Acts 2 – Acts 11 as the baseline, as the template, for what church is all about.
And our prayer is that you will catch that vision, and have faith for that vision and then each of us play our part in obedience so that the vision can be realised. Our vision strap-line is Influencing and Impacting Inverness, the Highlands and the world.
We want to be people that influence for Jesus not only in Inverness, but across the highlands and the globe. We want this gospel of Jesus to positively impact not just Inverness and the Highlands but also the world. We say this because we do not want to limit what God is able to do, because God is not bound by any limits, and neither should we. We live for His glory.
So as re reflect on 2017, let’s give God thanks and as we look forward to 2018, lets press on and have the vision, the faith and the obedience, in the context of being a healthy church, to glorify God, reach the lost and develop the found.
Robbie Halkett, Pastor, 31 Dec 2017