Encounter … (and an awesome early warning too)

This Sunday will be the first of our new ‘Encounter’ evenings at Welcome Church. We will be gathering to worship, to make space for the Holy Spirit and to see what God wants to do. I’m excited already.

 

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The evening will start with some teaching (from me) on The Holy Spirit and then we will move on to a time of worship, led by our amazing band, and then we’ll see where we go from there. The agenda is not over planned. This is about making room for God to work.

Expect to come and meet with God

Everyone is welcome, so if you have friends from other churches who would want to come please invite them or bring them along too. This is the first time we will do this event this year, and more dates will follow.

Parking is possible on Sunday evening at The Annexe (our offices), all along Poole Road, at Pulse or Reproprint (also on Poole Road), at Church Gate (which is next door to us), and in our own Oaks Road car park (as long as you put your number plate into the system at some point before you leave).

Early Warning!!!

I want to mention an awesome event we have planned for Saturday May 2nd. We have invited Tom and Suzie Brock, from Wave of Life Ministries (USA), to come and lead a ‘prophetic day’ for us at Welcome Church. These guys are going to bless us so much and I’m getting excited again already.

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Please put this one in your diaries now!

Tom and Suzie will be spending the Saturday speaking to the whole church, and we may open that up to other churches too.

The evening will then be just for people who have leadership responsibility at Welcome Church (at any level … kids work, life group, worship, car park teams, any leadership responsibility at all – if you lead something here you are invited to the evening).

They will also be speaking on the Sunday morning and sending some time with our eldership team as well.

We have had the privilege of meeting Tom and Suzie as a team, and they also come highly recommended. To quote Mike Pilavachi, “I have known Tom and Suzie Brock for many years. They have been frequent visitors to our church and festivals. Their ministry is full of integrity, insight, kindness and depth. I commend them to you.”

This is a weekend you won’t want to miss.

WE’VE LAUNCHED!! … What now?

Hi everyone. Dub Everitt here hijacking Steve’s blog again …

Wow!! What a Launch we enjoyed on Sunday!! It was an absolutely brilliant Sunday morning with hundreds at the 9am meeting and even more at the 11am meeting.

Our band led worship brilliantly, Mike’s Welcome Story stirred emotions across the room and Steve’s talk on the Prodigal Son, encapsulated by the video of Derek Redmond being supported around the track by his Dad, powerfully revealed the incredible heart of God to rush towards us.

And what amazing words we heard from our Architect Paul Ginever, who has been hugely impacted by working with Welcome Church on this project, as well as our Mayor Beryl Hunwicks and our MP Jonathan Lord speaking brilliantly on the impact Welcome Church is making. And then a presentation from Compassion topped it off so well, showing the impact we’re making on mothers and babies in Togo as well.

Oh, did I nearly forget … we were joined by hundreds and hundreds of guests across the morning in the adults meeting, as well as Kids Work and Creche also buzzing with guest kids having a great morning.

white-shuttle-spaceship-takes-on-39603The numbers …

At HG Wells recently we have tended to have roughly 560 to 600 people per week on a Sunday across both meetings, including kids and creche.

Our Launch Sunday saw 1,256 people filling the new building, more than doubling our usual numbers!!! And across the board, all of our guests LOVED IT!!!

What

A

Morning!

The question now is this: we’ve launched (BRILLIANTLY!) so what now?

That Launch Sunday has come, and the Launch Sunday has now gone. We’ve done all we can to invite and bring guests. Hundreds came, hundreds went away upbeat and impacted.

And three days later, our big Launch moment is now in the past. So, what next for us individually and as a church? Back to “business as usual”, whatever that may mean to us?

NOOOOOOOO!!!
I believe that what we’ve seen is something God wants to inspire us with. We CAN bring guests to church. They WILL love it. God WILL impact them. This can happen EVERY WEEK. Remember, this is about God changing people’s lives.

We’ve had a taste of what being an inviting church feels like, and the impact it has on those we bring. And God has a big encouragement for us:

“Do it again!”

So, as we look back on our Launch, and also look forward to “Welcome Stories week 2” this coming Sunday and the rest of this 6-week series, there are two encouragements I have for ALL OF US…

1. If you brought guests last Sunday, invite them again this Sunday!

This is an invite we can all make with confidence. We know they’re positive, and they now know what to expect.

But the reality is, only the boldest of our friends will contact us to say, “Please can I come next week?” Many, however, if they were re-invited, may well say “Yes!” So let’s re-invite them. And if they can’t make it this Sunday, see if the following Sunday works.

This doesn’t mean being pushy. But it does mean recognising it will take another invite for our friends to come, so it’s up to us to make the invite.

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2. If you didn’t bring guests last Sunday, the invite door hasn’t closed until our next Building Launch in another 40 years!!!

You may’ve invited people to the Launch and they couldn’t make it. Me and Tanya had 5 families who couldn’t come last Sunday but said, “We’d like to come another time.” We now need to follow up to say, “The Launch was amazing, a shame you couldn’t make it. What Sunday suits you? How about next Sunday?”

You may’ve not got round to inviting, or didn’t feel brave enough to invite. Well, after witnessing how brilliant Sunday was, and experiencing the incredible buzz of hundreds of new people thinking, “Wow! I wasn’t expecting church to be like that!” – I know you’ve now gained the confidence to think, “I can invite, because it’s brilliant!”

A second wave

Our Launch Sunday was a new ‘high water mark’ for us. In our Prayer Meeting on Tuesday morning, Tony Lynch brought a prophetic word about a 2nd wave, specifically of those who DIDN’T come to the Launch, but who we can invite again over the coming weeks and who will say yes!

I believe this is a word from God to nudge us and build our faith to go again.

You and I now know: if my friends come, they’ll really enjoy it. And God will impact them. So let’s make those invites.

God is at work

He’s working through you and me to reach out to our friends, and as they come to church with us over these Sundays He’s at work through His church as well.

I felt God remind me recently that a key role He has for us is to be door-openers – for us to open the door to introduce people to Jesus. From there, Jesus will do what He does – save and transform people! And that’s something we are all called to be a part of: leading people to Jesus, seeing lives changed, seeing Jesus get the glory.

Our invitations to church over these coming Sunday’s are us looking to open that door. So let me encourage you: let’s all make those return invites and those first-time invites, let’s pray and let’s see what God does!

Dub Everitt is Outreach Pastor at Welcome Church.

Launch Sunday … Welcome Church, We Have Lift Off!

On Sunday (19th Jan 2020) Welcome Church marked the official launch of our brand new building in the heart of Woking. We were delighted to see so many people there to celebrate with us.

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Just over 1,200 people attended across the two meetings, and this represents a new ‘high water mark’ for the church. We want to say a huge thank you to everyone who was there including friends old and new and, whether you were there or not, everyone is warmly invited to come and join us next Sunday at 9am or 11am.

So much to pack in

It was a fast paced morning:

  • Our worship team kicked us off in brilliant style with some vibrant worship
  • We then remembered some of our 140 year history of buildings, looking back at our journey so far and forward to our future vision
  • We heard from Paul Ginever, the architect who designed the new building
  • The Mayor of Woking, Councillor Beryl Hunwicks, spoke about the importance of community and working together
  • At the 11am meeting Jonathan Lord MP, Member of Parliament for Woking, was present to share some very kind words of encouragement
  • Then Steve Blow, the Finance Director for Compassion UK, presented Welcome Church with a display board to mark the support given to mothers and babies in Togo through our partnership with them
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My Favourite Thing From Sunday 🙂

You can listen to that part of our meeting by clicking here.

Welcome Stories

This week also marked the start of our six week ‘Welcome Stories’ series. Many of us were deeply moved watching Mike’s Story, which showed the difference that Jesus has made to his life, helping him to get free from depression and more. You can watch his powerful story here:

This video should play, but if not please click here to view it via our church website

Towards the end of the meeting I talked about a question, the answer to which profoundly shapes our lives and daily actions:

“What do you think God is like?”

This talk was based on Jesus’ story of The Prodigal Son, and you can hear it by clicking here. For me, it was a morning to remember.

Please come again

I want to invite everyone who reads this to come and join us at Welcome Church over the next five weeks. We will be continuing our Welcome Stories series, and there will be another powerful Welcome Story video each Sunday.

Consider some fascinating facts about how, on average, we spend our lives…

  • We sleep for over 20 years of our lives
  • We watch TV for over 10 years of our lives
  • We spend 5 years 9 months in some form of transportation
  • We spend 7 ½ years eating and drinking

Why not spend 7 ½ hours over these next five weeks joining us for this Welcome Stories series? It will be a great way to brighten up these gloomy January and February Sunday mornings!

Finally, here are some photos from Sunday morning to enjoy:

 

A Day To Remember

We had our first Sunday meetings in our new Welcome Church building in the heart of Woking this week, and what a great day it was!

Around 750 people attended across the two morning meetings, and some  of the highlights for me included:

  • The sense of joy and excitement after so long waiting for a new building
  • Seeing so many people from our church gathered across the two meetings
  • The excellent coffee and refreshments (thank you Marcus, Sharon and team)
  • The top notch parking arrangements that came together and worked so well (thank you Richard and team)
  • Embarrassing the awesome Mike Deavin by getting him to sit on the stage in an armchair with a blanket whilst I preached (thank you Mike)
  • The amazing worship times … our musicians and sound team were absolutely ON IT! (Thank you team)

I also enjoyed gathering in the evening to pray around the whole site. 

An extra special thank you goes to Charles C for the huge amount of time he put in to make sure that everything worked in terms of sound, lights and visuals.

Next Sunday we will back again at 9am and 11am

You will see some changes to the building that have taken place this week as the builders have continued towards finishing the job.

And in terms of parking please do head to Philips Court again (left hand side of the Fire Station) and you will be directed from there.

Here are a few photos from the day for you to enjoy in case you missed them:

Merry Christmas – what a year it’s been!

We’ve made it safely to the end of another year (almost), and what a year it’s been for Welcome Church! I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Some highlights

Along the way we’ve built a new building, moved into the annex, held an amazing Gift day, launched Welcome Works, sponsored 141 kids in Togo with Compassion UK, launched The Useful Wood Company, seconded Ben & Nancy to Gateway Church Basingstoke for a while, welcomed Rhea John onto staff, said goodbye to David & Tina Maskell, taken 300 people to Westpoint, finished meeting at the HG Wells Conference Centre, launched and shared our Welcome Stories, published our first book, run an amazing Fun Day, held a fireworks event with around 2000 people, put on a Carol Service for Woking (featuring both the Mayor and our local MP😃) and done a whole lot more too.

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Additionally there’s been the usual, day to day stuff of church life that has carried on, including baptisms, pastoral care, Sunday meetings, worship, preaching, weddings, funerals, kids work, youth work, Life Groups, Alpha courses, ministry to the poor and lots more too.

If you’ve chosen to make Welcome Church your church then we want to say,

“Thank you for being on the journey with us in 2019”.

Looking forward to 2020

2020 is going to be and in incredible year for us. The new building will be launched in January, and there will be many God given opportunities and blessings ahead for us. I’m sure we will also face some big challenges, yet we have a big God who is with us every step of the way. Let’s all start inviting people to the launch event on the 19th.

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Something for us all to do

ImageIf you haven’t done it already, or even if you have, why not take a quiet moment over the next week or so to read Dub’s book, “Caring and Sharing”.

This book is our ‘manifesto for evangelism’ as a church. It’s easy to read, full of great stories and it will only take 1 or 2 hours to read from cover to cover.

I know that if we were all to put the principles in this book into practice in 2020, it would have a huge impact on many lives.

Merry Christmas

I hope you have an amazing Christmas this year, whatever you’re up to. Do take some time out along the way to reflect on the real reason for the season: Jesus coming into the world. Do take time to pray and to thank Him for all he’s done in your life. And I look forward to seeing you all in 2020.

Walk Humbly

We’re now entering the last few weeks we will have as a church meeting at the HG Wells Conference Centre. From January, after almost 12 years of waiting, we should be back at our own site, meeting in our brand new building. I’ve visited the building twice this week and it’s really starting to come together now. I’m getting excited!

Over the last few weeks at HG Wells, in the run up to Christmas, we’ll be enjoying a short preaching series called ‘Walk Humbly’. I’ll kick the series off this Sunday and explain what it’s about then.

513MjA5ds-L._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_As we go through the series I want to recommend a book, and encourage as many of us as possible to get hold of it and read it; it will do you good!

The book is called ‘Humble Roots’ and is by Hannah Anderson, who many of us heard speak at Westpoint this year.

We won’t be ‘preaching through the book’,  but it has inspired some of my content and it speaks to the subject we want to address in far more detail than we will get to in a few short Sunday talks.

I would actually recommend this book to every Christian everywhere, and it could also make a great Christmas present (though do bear in mind it is written for Christians and is not an ‘evangelistic’ type of book).

Obviously you can buy a copy on line, or download it to your electronic reading device or get it in audio format to listen to during your commute … but if you do want to buy a hard copy then why not consider supporting our local, very excellent, Christian book shop – Origin Books – based at Christ Church in Jubilee Square.

And if you tell them you’re from Welcome Church they will give you a 20% discount on this book too …

Welcome Stories

Over the last few weeks at Welcome Church we’ve launched a brand new initiative called Welcome Stories.

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Welcome Stories are short videos from people in our church whose lives have been impacted for good by Jesus. You can check some of them out on our Welcome Stories website, or you can find them on our Welcome Church Facebook page, our Instagram account or our YouTube channel. There are lots more coming in the weeks ahead.

Sharing

As we launch these stories week by week we want to encourage people to share them to their friends via social media. Liking them is kind of you, but sharing them is actually useful for the gospel!

Please don’t use religious language when you share them, but do perhaps use the hashtag #WelcomeStories.

You can share them on Facebook and Instagram easily by sharing the posts we’ve already made on our Welcome Church pages. You can also share them from You Tube or from the Welcome Stories website onto Twitter and other media.

Why do it?

These videos are about helping people connect to Jesus … and that is already happening. We are already seeing fruit from these stories.

So far over 28,000 people have viewed one of our Welcome Stories. Just imagine the impact we could have in Woking if everyone in our church shared these?

And of course, this is all part of the run up to the launch of our new building on January 19th. It’s part of the invitation process. We will even kick off our new year with a preaching series called “Welcome Stories”.

So let’s get sharing, let’s get praying, and let’s expect God to do big things!

I’ve put a link to one of the stories here – Enjoy!

The video should be visible above, if it’s not then please click here to view it.

Happy 140th Birthday!

Last Saturday was a special day for Welcome church, and not just because of the amazing Fun Day we had …

It was also our 140th birthday as a church!

In the 1870’s Woking was a fast growing town with a railway station and a canal – remember this was before cars existed and that homes did not yet have electricity. In terms of the church in Woking there was a small Methodist chapel, and a tin hut for the Anglicans to meet in. This tin hut was on the spot where Christ Church has now been built in Jubilee Square. 

In 1879 Rev. Edward Tarbox, from Addlestone Baptist Church, wanted to plant a new Baptist Church in Woking. Forty people attended an exploratory meeting in a house in Goldsworth Road on Thursday 18th September where it was agreed to go ahead.

The first Sunday morning and evening services of ‘Woking Baptist Congregational Church’ were held in a house in Goldsworth Road on Sunday 28th September, 1879. The Rev. Tarbox preached at both services, communion was celebrated and eight people were welcomed into church membership.

It was agreed on that first Sunday that Rev. Tarbox would become the Pastor and that Henry William Gloster would become the first Deacon. Henry was the Great Grandfather of John Gloster who is in our church today, and you really can see the family resemblance under that beard – they have the same cheeky smile. Sadly I have no photos of Edward, but if you do please let me have them!

 

Buildings

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Building No. 2: Goldsworth Road Baptist Church, 1906

At that first meeting it was also agreed to put together a committee to oversee buying some land and constructing a building for the church. It seems that God has been inspiring us to build and to expand since day one.

 

 

That building was completed within two years and the debt paid off a year later, which was impressive to have achieved from a standing start!

Sadly that building was found to be far too small, so the church immediately started work on a second building, which opened in 1886: Goldsworth Road Baptist Church.

Once again we outgrew the building, so in the 1920’s the church bought some more land, this time in Percy Street (which no longer exists) and built a third building: Percy Street Baptist Church.

There are people in our church who still remember that building with affection, having been saved there, baptised there, married there and more.

There is a great photo that was taken during the last ever service held in the Percy Street building, on the evening of 31st December 1976. As you can see, there is some great seventies fashion going on in that photo, and if you zoom in close you may spot one or two faces you recognise …

 

In October 1977 our church moved into its fourth building, called The Coign. We renamed this building The Welcome Centre when we became Welcome Church.

This building is now being redeveloped to provide us with new offices and to serve our children’s work, our youth work, our social action ministries and the wider community. On the land behind it we are also building a completely new 675 seat chapel. THERE IS MORE INFO ON THAT HERE.

We plan to start meeting in the new chapel from January 2020.

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Building No. 4: The Welcome Centre (formerly The Coign)

Telling our story

Some of us love history, some are less interested. Either way let me encourage you to buy and read John Gloster’s book: Church On The Move.

John wrote this for us. It tells our history from 1879 – 1999. It’s the story of our church, so if you want to know where we come from, read it. It’s available from us for £7.00 (or £8.00 on Amazon). Any profits will go into the Building Fund.

 

John has written another book too, Welcome Church Story, which brings the story all the way up to date; that’s available for £5. These books are a great resource and I am personally grateful to John for putting them together for us; they are precious. If you want to get hold of a copy of either or both, please email info@allwelcome.uk

Feeling thankful

I’m so grateful to all the people who have gone before us. I thank God that in 1879 He sent Edward Tarbox to Woking with a courageous plan to plant a new church. That took faith, risk, money, personal sacrifice, travel, tears, prayers and hard work … and here we are today. Over the years thousands of people’s lives have been transformed by this church and I am in faith for that to continue into the future.

And it’s so much bigger than just our church. New Life Church in Old Woking celebrated their 90th birthday this weekend. Our church planted that church on our 50th birthday – a great way to celebrate! And there have been other church plants along the way too, such as those in Guildford, Camberley and Chertsey. And many leaders have been sent out to serve in different places around the UK and across the world too.

Why bother? 

But why do it? Why plant churches? Why send people? Why go to all that trouble? Why pay the price?

Because we have hope in a God who saves.

Jesus gave his people a mission to take the gospel to all nations, and that includes here in the UK. We are not a social club, here to look after ourselves; we’re on a mission from God! We have a message to share with our town. We want to introduce people to Jesus. We want to see lives change and our community impacted for good through God’s grace in action.

Our new building is part of that mission and soon we’ll move in. We should be meeting there from Sunday 5th January, with our big launch Sunday on Jan 19th.

I believe we could see hundreds of people coming to our big launch; it’s our God given opportunity to create the most exciting Sunday morning we’ve had for years. This season of church life, is all about that; let’s do all we can to maximise this moment in our history; let’s maximise the opportunity this new start creates for the gospel in our town.

It’s an exciting new season … let’s do this together!

Life moves in seasons. We  go through different phases, such as child, teenager, parent, student, young adult,  grandparent, employee, manager, owner, retirement, engagement, bereavement, new babies, empty nest and so on.

Each season has its own blessings and challenges, and it’s important to recognise, embrace and enjoy the season we’re in. Sometimes we can be so keen to get onto the next season of life that we forget to enjoy the season we’re in.

Church life moves in seasons too

We’re at the start of a very exciting new season for Welcome Church with a huge opportunity ahead, perhaps the biggest  opportunity we’ve had for about 45 years. From January we will be meeting in our new, purpose built building in the heart of Woking, and we want to maximise this great opportunity for the church and the gospel.

What a moment this will create! I believe we could see hundreds or people coming to our big launch Sunday on January 19th; it’s a God given opportunity to create the most exciting Sunday morning we’ve had for years.

The season we are in now is all about that

The activities we will be doing over the coming year are all about getting us ready for that and making the most it; it’s our number one top priority for the year ahead. Let’s recognise the season we are in and make sure we embrace it and enjoy it.

To help us all to maximise the opportunity this new start creates, we’ve made some big and exciting plans, so let’s all be ready to get involved.

Welcome Church Fun Day

The first step in our big plans is the Welcome Church Fun Day tomorrow.  (Sat 28th September, 11am – 4pm, Schifano’s Field in West End).

This date also coincides with our church’s 140th birthday.

The Fun Day has something for everyone: BBQ, Ice Creams, Candy Floss, Teacup Rides, Inflatables, Magic with Peanuts the Clown, Live Music, Tractor Rides, Assault Course, Games, Competitions and more.

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Do pray that the sun comes out for us, at the moment it’s looking GOOD! 🌞

We’ve given the full details out lots of times on Sundays, so I won’t repeat them here, but if you have any questions please ask. And if you’re reading this and you’re not from Welcome Church and you want to come – you can. Just reply to this post and I’ll send you the details ASAP – we would love you to join us.

Just do one thing

For this event we  want everyone to do one thing: bring someone with you.

Bring a person, bring a family … just bring someone. It’s an easy invitation to make, so let’s all be on the front foot with it. And it’s absolutely not too late to ask people, you can even do it on the day.

Making a Triple Jump

The world record for the Long Jump is 8.95 metres. But the world record for the Triple Jump (also known as the Hop, Skip and Jump) is an incredible 19.29 metres – that’s a whole lot further.

We are thinking of this launch as a triple jump.

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Hop: bring people to the Fun Day

Skip: bring them to our Fireworks event (9th November)

Jump: invite them to the Big Launch in January

Of course we have lots of other things going on too, not least our Carol Service for Woking at HG Wells on 15th December with the Cobham Brass Band and our amazing new Welcome Stories initiative.

I’m really looking forward to seeing what God does through us all in the next few months!

Summer Reading

In case you have a bit of time over the summer to do some extra reading while you enjoy the sunshine, here are some books that I found particularly helpful this year and want to recommend:

1. Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

This book, by Kenneth Bailey, looks at the life of Jesus from the perspective of those who live in the Middle East. A special focus is given to the stories of Jesus’ birth, his attitude to women, the Lord’s Prayer, the beatitudes and several of Jesus’ parables.

I found it extremely interesting, easy to read and personally challenging. It was packed full of insights that were completely new to me. I will definitely be reading more by this author and I would recommend this book to anyone who’s interested in the life and teachings of Jesus.

2. A War Of Loves – the unexpected story of a gay activist discovering Jesus

Jo and I have had the privilege of meeting David Bennett, having dinner with him and hearing him speak. This book is his autobiographical account of how he came to faith in Jesus, and the implications of this for his life. It is an honest account and doesn’t shy away from some deeply personal and challenging issues.

I would recommend this book to every Christian … I would even call it “essential reading”. Read it with an open heart and let God challenge you; it brought me to tears several times. And if you want to know more, David will be speaking in two seminars at Westpoint this year as well.

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3. Developing Female Leaders

This book, by Kadi Cole, is the one I’ve read most recently and is an absolute gift to anyone in the church. It looks at some of the reasons why women have struggled to maximise their leadership gifts in the church context and gives eight, easy to implement, best practices to help turn that around. It contained truths that I can now see are blindingly obvious, but which I had simply been unaware of before.

I particularly like how the author doesn’t have a big personal axe to grind; she just has a deep desire to help churches live up to the fullness of what they say they believe. Regardless of where we might sit on the “egalitarian” vs “complementarian” debate (and this book is not about that) this is relevant, practical and helpful. I’m looking forward to putting these steps into the practice in the months and years ahead.

4. Sustainable Power

Simon Holley’s book is not new (it’s been on my shelf for four years) but I only got round to reading it this year … and I’m so glad I did. It looks at the ‘rocks’ in our hearts and lives that can prevent God from moving in and through us to impact the world around us. It’s full of relevant stories and examples and is easy to read whilst being personally challenging to read at the same time.

If you want to grow in faith, grow in expectation and grow in your walk with God, this is the book for you. Just don’t expect to reach the end unchallenged and unchanged.

Hope you have a great summer …

… and if you do take the time to read any of these, feel free to (politely) let me know what you thought of them in the comments section below.