Tim Harrold, representing Transformation Thurrock, attended the inaugural full meeting of Networks’ facilitators from across Greater London at the Metropolitan Police’s Central Command in Lambeth on Wednesday 18 January.
Hosted and led by Matt Bird of Merton, 26 representatives of around 22 of London’s 33 boroughs attended, plus Basildon, Watford and, of course, Thurrock.
After a time of relationship-building over refreshments, there was a time of storytelling, hearing powerful testaments of church unity expressed in social action and prayer from Barnet, Enfield, Tower Hamlets, Kingston, Richmond, Islington, Bexley, and Barking & Dagenham.
Matt then invited all to enter a time of prayer and an opportunity to share the prophetic and the intuitively inspired. Matt began by stating for those who hadn’t been at the December gathering that the very fact the meeting was taking place in Central Command was in itself symbolic of the purposes of God for the group.
Other thoughts from around the table:
- “Unless the Lord build the house…”
- The key is not to copy what each other is doing as such, but on hearing God for one’s own borough
- This can’t but happen – we’re in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity!
- This is a new thing God’s doing
- Increased need to be listening and obedient – we’re on a journey of obedience
- Risk, holy chaos, scary and exciting!
- Put aside empires – from the stories being told, it’s apparent that it’s the ‘ordinary’ people who ‘get’ unity
- 2012 is a significant year to be stirred afresh
- There is a need to be strategic
- It’s noticeable that larger churches are blessing smaller churches (and vice versa) with grace and without domination
- The emblem of Basildon is a mother and child, which symbolises parenthood, but leaves out fathering. We are one family, becoming family to save the earth – Fathering & Mothering is needed to counter the orphan spirit across this generation.
- As one family, we can transform London
- Referring to Psalm 133, Tim told how he got off the Tube at Lambeth North and the only other person on the platform was a young man wearing a teeshirt with a single word on it: OBEY. If we are in the Kingdom then we are subjects of the King – be obedient to the vision God gives for the local, city and national pictures.
- Picture of a surfer on a surf board being towed out by motorboat to a large wave, then being released, and the surfer effortlessly surfs down the side of the wave which, as it rolls, becomes ever more mountainous. God is sending waves of grace and favour across the city of London – like the surfer, take the leap, it will be easier than you think. You were made for this.
- We may feel like we’re Gideons rather than Davids, but God uses Gideons as well
- “The vine is dried up and the fig-tree is withered; the pomegranate, the palm and the apple tree—all the trees of the field—are dried up. Surely the joy of mankind is withered away… Declare a holy fast; call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD.” Joel 1:12,14 We have been summoned!
A guy from Enfield encouraged everyone with his experience as a newly-trained police chaplain. God told him to get alongside the Area Commander, but he didn’t know how to. At the time of the riots, there was a visit from a dignitary to the Commander, and it was protocol for the police chaplain to be present. Through this he was able to ask the Commander if he could take a group of intercessors onto the streets to pray for peace. Permission was granted and they prayed for the peace of the borough, which came quickly. The Commander then wrote in a public report that the prayers of the church had meant the swift return to peace for the affected areas.
Roger Sutton of Gather (a national network of networks) concluded by saying that the capital city has to find its nation, and that we shouldn’t just think London, but think nation. He emphasised that levels of depravation are increasing across whole cities like Sunderland and Middlesborough, and many parts of Liverpool, all cities that feel the south gets all the attention.
As a blessing over everyone present, Romans 8:1-17 from The Message was read out.
With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud.
A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant.
In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that.
And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us. Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them-living and breathing God!
Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored.
But if God himself has taken up residence in your life, you can hardly be thinking more of yourself than of him. Anyone, of course, who has not welcomed this invisible but clearly present God, the Spirit of Christ, won’t know what we’re talking about. But for you who welcome him, in whom he dwells-even though you still experience all the limitations of sin-you yourself experience life on God’s terms.
It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?”
God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us-an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!
Next Network of Networks meeting: late April
Some thoughts from this for the further transformation of Thurrock:
- Strengthen the network across the borough
- Do more co-owned projects
- Idea of covenant (see TLN Day report)
- Increase emphasis on cross-denominational prayer
- Transformational vision – it’s happening across nation (prophetic)
- Engage in united church planting
- Think about inviting a Megacities (YWAM) team to the borough for the Olympics