28th June 2020

Congregational Bible Reading plan.

It’s the end of June 2020 and we have been enduring a coronavirus pandemic since March. During this nearly four months we have had various levels of lockdown and social isolation and distancing; so, with the title of these notes of Growing Together it is a bit incongruous with our separation but I hope that through reading these notes it will help us all to Get Closer to God.

By reading the letter to the Philippians we may see and maintain the unity of church, our love for God and others will grow and we will bring honour to God through keeping our eyes fixed on the Lord Jesus Christ as we wait for His return. May this sharing together help us all to endure joyfully the current difficult times.

Pastor Andrew

June   28        Acts 16 v 11 – 15                 Paul arrives at Philippi.
June   28        Acts 16 v 16 – 24                 Arrest

June   28        Acts 16 v 25 – 34                 In prison

June   28        Acts 16 v 35 – 40                 Apology, Release & Departure

June   29        Philippians chapter 1                                                                                  

June   30        Philippians chapter 2                                                                                  

July     1          Philippians chapter 3                                                                           

July     2          Philippians chapter 4                                                                                    

July     3          chpt 1 v 1 - 2                         Are all Christians saints?                

July     4          chpt 1 v 3 - 7                         Not seen, but not forgotten

July     5s        chpt 1 v 8 - 11                       Love can grow in separation                     

July     6          chpt 1 v 12 - 26                    Circumstances don’t dictate the future

July     7          chpt 1 v 27 - 30                    Stand firm                                                     

July     8          chpt 2 v 1 – 4                        Live worthily, in unity with the Spirit

July     9          chpt 2 v 5 – 8                        Have the mind of Christ                 

July     10        chpt 2 v 9 – 11                      Do you bow and confess?             

July     11        chpt 2 v 12 - 18                    Saved, now work with joy              

July     12s      chpt 2 v 19 - 30                    Are you a Model Christian?                                 

July     13        chpt 3 v 1 – 3                        Rejoice, worship in spirit & joy      

July     14        chpt 3 v 4 – 8                        What is important in your life?      

July     15        chpt 3 v 9 – 12                      in Christ, press on                           

July     16        chpt 3 v 13 – 16                    Maturity in Christ Jesus                 

July     17        chpt 3 v 17 - 19                    beware of enemies of the cross

July     18        chpt 3 v 20 - 21                    Christ your Hope?                           

July     19s      chpt 4 v 1 - 3                         agree in the Lord, support each other           

July     20        chpt 4 v 4 – 9                        Rejoice, be thankful, have peace 

July     21        chpt 4 v 10 – 20                    know contentment, strength in the Lord

July     22        chpt 4 v 21 – 23                    Grace be yours in Jesus Christ


Paul only stayed in Philippi a relatively short time and some of the latter time was spent in jail, yet this first European church was close to his heart. So, being aware of some tension between a couple within the church (Chpt 4v2) Paul calls for the fellowship to be united firstly in Christ then with each other. To grow in love with Christ and with each other so that unity and love will spill out to those around then who as yet do not know salvation in Christ Jesus. At this time we are separated physically and we don’t as yet know when or how we can join together in community, times are tough and it can feel that we are under attack but remember that our circumstances do not dictate the future outcomes. Whilst Paul was in prison, both in Philippi and Rome and elsewhere the Gospel was declared and the Holy Spirit convicted many to turn to Christ. Our ‘social distancing’, our inability to meet in church may be the opportunity for us to share the love of God with others more noticeably.
Keep eyes fixed on Jesus our Lord and Saviour, Rejoice in Him in all circumstances and love all.

On Saturday 8th August 2015 the church had an away day at H.O.M.E, a small chapel in the Heart of Monks Eleigh.

I am sure that all who were able to attend the day had an enjoyable time. The weather was wonderful, the venue intimate and comfortable with all facilities we needed. Some of us walked to The Quiet Place in the afternoon which offered us a place for quiet reflection and meditation with God. Chris & Von lead us in song and worship at different times through the day and Simon engaged us with thoughts and prompts to help us as a fellowship to listen to God; to dream big dreams for and from God.

During the day we looked at the history of Witnesham Baptist Church, how it started as a Sunday school an outreach or mission from Stoke Green Baptist, when it began as a ‘church’ a desire for a blessing from the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich. So in a sense we have, as a church, in our DNA - wanting to work with children, families, other denominations/Christians, willingness to serve with generosity, mission. Over the past 150 plus years there have been huge highs (200+ children) and deep troughs (members down to 4) yet it has been God’s will that His witness here remains. Our challenge and opportunity is to walk and work with our Lord to maintain and extend that witness into the village today. Looking back is good if it provides us with encouragement and stimulation to move forward.

Thoughts included ‘moans’ into positive ways of Church or future hopes. Below these are in columns in alphabetical order rather than priorities
From Moans experienced (elsewhere)                   To what we want to be to others
Boring sermons                                                          Engaging, interactive sermons
Boring Songs                                                             Relevant, contemporary songs
Dead                                                                          Alive
Difficult Tunes                                                            Accessible + familiar tunes
Holier than Thou                                                        Real
Inaccessible                                                               Accessible
Lack of explanation                                                    Clear about what’s going on
Lack of Joy                                                                Alive and real
Lack of preparation                                                   Get prepared with pa/projection etc.
Lack of welcome                                                        Great welcome; good goodbyes
No intercession                                                          World aware prayers
Poor Coffee                                                               Great coffee & tea, drinks
Prayer                                                                        Active prayer life
Sound issues                                                             Clarity of PA system, music,
Toilets                                                                        Clean pleasant toilet environment
Unresponsive                                                             Responsive to people’s need

Some of the aspects or core functions of Church were brought forward as an encouragement and to establish where we are or must be, again in alphabetical order although it might be good to consider which are our priorities as a church:

Baptism; Biblical reading; Communion; Discipleship; God centred worship; Inclusivity; Meeting together/Fellowship; Mission; Prayer (including intercession); Serving others; Teaching (including but not exclusively preaching).

The ladies from Stoke Green when they started the Sunday School didn’t know what would grow from their early steps of faith; we must now keep hold of the baton of faith, step out and see where God leads us. We may have changed part of the building but which part of our (His) work needs to change? The wider society no longer looks first to the church for guidance or assistance, why? Are we within the church stifling the Holy Spirit so that others do not see the power of Christ in our lives? Is it our dream to see the people around us coming to know Jesus personally, are we prepared to let go of the past and let God do a new thing in our time? I know that I’m guilty of restricting God in my life, I’m not a big dreamer yet deep in my heart I desire to serve and let God lead my life. Together I pray that we might dream big dreams to let our big God leads us into sharing His love and power in new exciting visionary ways so that people will be drawn to Jesus through us.

Help me to dream BIG!

In Christ Jesus, Andrew