So my sabbatical started a week ago. On the advise of a few people, I didn’t dive straight into study but took time this week to pause and reflect. This meant enjoying quite a bit of time with the phone off and away from email. You know, life can be quite peaceful without email!
We spent a few days down in Kent. Sarah’s sister has just had a baby boy and so we got to spend a bit of time with the family. This also meant a visit to Rochester Baptist Church where I spent 10 years as a member before going to Oak Hill.
It was encouraging to see that the church is still growing. Every time we return we realise that there are more people that we don’t know. I would say that the majority of church members are people we wouldn’t remember and who wouldn’t remember us from when we lived in Kent. That’s a good thing.
If I could highlight a few things from the church they would be:
1. They take welcoming seriously. There is someone to meet and greet at the front door and then additionally welcome team members to give out Bibles, notice sheets etc and show people to their seats. Tea and Coffee is served before the meeting. Welcome Team members wear name badges.
2. They look after the building well. It’s always clean, tidy and recently decorated.
3. After the meeting tea and coffee is served again, on both occasions in the main hall. This means you don’t have that weird call for people to “go through the back” to another room which strikes me as a little intimidating for visitors.
4. There is a focus on explaining clearly everything that happens during the meeting.
5. P/A including audio and visual runs seamlessly so that it does not distract. Those who do this ministry clearly enjoy it and clearly see it as an essential gift.
I don’t plan to start doing full critiques of places I’ve visited as they’ve not asked for this. I would note however that their meetings tend to be wordy. There’s a lot of listening and we only sung three songs. It’s all about context and what works in Rochester, Kent may not work everywhere. I think for our context this would be a challenge.
I mentioned that I’d been reading. However, I’ve decided to stay clear of the books until next week. I’ve stuck to one book, the Bible, taking time to read through Romans and Deuteronomy. I’ve enjoyed having the space to simply listen to God speak through his word alone.
Oh I’ve also decided to give duolingo a go and rediscover French as well as finally trying to get to grips with Spanish.