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27th February 2023

Dear Church Family,


I am writing to you slightly earlier than normally as I’m away at a conference next week – which I do once a year, because it’s important to get fresh ideas, inspiration and challenge from beyond the context you’re in for the majority of your time. It keeps us sharp and focussed to have external challenge.


So this message is being entitled a Lent Message rather than the monthly one… semantics maybe, but descriptors are important. You may or may not have been aware of what has been happening at Asbury University in Kentucky USA over these past few weeks. The long and short of it is that there’s been a spontaneous prayer meeting that’s lasted ten days, with hundreds if not thousands of students flocking to the chapel to pray, to worship and to encounter God’s presence. 


What’s marked it out for me is that it hasn’t been personality based. – with no one celebrity individual at the centre, and it hasn’t been hyped. There’s not been any expensive technical equipment, no production team, just people gathering in what might be assumed to be a quite traditional building. In short what’s drawn them to be there has been a desire to encounter God.


In years gone by, I would have been angling to get on a plane to go and experience this phenomenon for myself. My prayer now is this… “Lord would you do this here. Could we see a move of your spirit in Blandford?” I long for God to do more than we are currently seeing in our midst. Don’t get me wrong, God is working in BFPC and he is doing things that are encouraging. I do believe however that there is more of God to be experienced. We’ve only seen a tiny bit of what God can do.


As I wrote last month, the presence of God is something that can be encountered if we have created the right culture. That doesn’t mean everyone has to be a New Wine-style person, but it does mean that we can expect God to do more than we’ve currently experienced… God can work in the midst of a liturgical holy communion, a contemporary all-age service, or even in the checkout queue at Tesco’s – the defining factor is our openness to Him doing so!


Tonight we kick off the season of Lent with an Ash Wednesday Communion Service with Ashing. As we enter this traditional period of repentance and fasting, can I invite all of us to dig into prayer. To seek God and to ask Him for more than we can ask or imagine? 

I just want to remind you that there are opportunities to pray collectively throughout the week (Tues and Thurs at 9am, Weds at 7am, 30 mins before each Sunday Service). On top of this we’re adding a worship and prayer session on a Thursday at 7.45pm in church throughout Lent. The agenda is to sing God’s praises, and to seek him in prayer and worship. There is no other agenda for these sessions than that. We’re calling it “Going Deeper” – based on the passage of Ezekiel 47 where God invited Ezekiel to step into deeper water – a deeper move of his spirit. Please do come along if you’re able, or if you’re spiritually thirsty and want more of God… that desire is one that God applauds and will not fail to answer.


Lastly, starting next week (1st March) we’re starting this year’s Lent Course – which is called “Learning to Hear God’s Voice” and was written by a friend of mine. The aim is to equip everyone to be able to discern what God is saying to them and to us as a community. I am very aware that I cannot be the only person in the church who needs to be hearing from God. In fact, if it’s only me doing so, then we’re highly likely to go astray as a church. We all have the ability to do so, and so I want to equip all to enable that to happen. We’re encouraging all homegroups to come along instead of their usual weekly gatherings, and we’re inviting anyone who isn’t currently part of a group to attend also.  It will run for the 6 weeks up to Easter, and we’d love for as many at attend as possible. It’s on a Weds evening starting at 7.45pm. 


My hope and my prayer is that this Lent, as we grow in prayer and our ability to discern how God is moving and what he is saying, we will see a fundamental shift in the spiritual dynamic of our church and our town, that will lead to increased growth, but also to seeing individual lives transformed by encountering God for themselves.


Many blessings