Categories
News Teaching

You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. (2)

You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. But Christians are bothered about church

In my email last week, I gave this quote: ‘You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. So, I don’t need to bother with church.’ The first part is correct. Being in a Christian meeting does not earn you a place in God’s family. But the second part is incorrect. If you are a member of God’s family, you will be bothered about church.

In the Bible, ‘church’ means Jesus’ people gathering together. We do not gather together to find our way to God. We gather together because God has found us and gathered us around Jesus. The Bible says Jesus ‘loved the church and gave himself up for her’ (Ephesians 5:25).

The gathering of God’s people, the church, doesn’t have a mission or a task to do. But each Christian has the personal, individual mission of ‘building’ the church – praying for others, telling people about Jesus, inviting people to church, encouraging other believers. All these are things that ‘build’ the church – growing the gathering by increasing the numbers who come or by strengthening each others’ hold on Jesus.

Some of us can’t make it to church meetings because of illness or our boss prevents us or, in some cases, another service for God takes priority. It is harder for those people to ‘build’ the church – though they can pray, talk to others about Jesus, be in touch with other believers. For those of us who can make it to church meetings, let’s not just turn up and sit through the gatherings, but play our part in building the church – saying hello to others, joining in, listening to teaching and chatting with others, serving others.

Categories
News Teaching

You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. (1)

You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.

You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. But Christians are bothered about church
In my email last week, I gave this quote: ‘You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. So, I don’t need to bother with church.’ The first part is correct. Being in a Christian meeting does not earn you a place in God’s family. But the second part is incorrect. If you are a member of God’s family, you will be bothered about church.

In the Bible, ‘church’ means Jesus’ people gathering together. We do not gather together to find our way to God. We gather together because God has found us and gathered us around Jesus. The Bible says Jesus ‘loved the church and gave himself up for her’ (Ephesians 5:25).

The gathering of God’s people, the church, doesn’t have a mission or a task to do. But each Christian has the personal, individual mission of ‘building’ the church – praying for others, telling people about Jesus, inviting people to church, encouraging other believers. All these are things that ‘build’ the church – growing the gathering by increasing the numbers who come or by strengthening each others’ hold on Jesus.

Some of us can’t make it to church meetings because of illness or our boss prevents us or, in some cases, another service for God takes priority. It is harder for those people to ‘build’ the church – though they can pray, talk to others about Jesus, be in touch with other believers. For those of us who can make it to church meetings, let’s not just turn up and sit through the gatherings, but play our part in building the church – saying hello to others, joining in, listening to teaching and chatting with others, serving others.

Categories
News Notices Special events

Up and coming Events: Pray for the Queen

Everyone is welcome to our special church service on the long bank holiday weekend for Queen Elizabeth’s jubilee.  In the Bible, God tells us to “pray for kings and all those in authority”.  God is the ultimate authority and so we will be obeying his instruction by praying for Queen Elizabeth and others in authority.  We hope to see you at Dagenham Parish Church on Sunday 5th June at 10.30am

The Queen 2022 A0

Categories
News Notices

Anxiety

These notes are based on a talk by Andrew Nichols at Oak Hill Theological College.

Anxiety

Anxiety is on the rise because of covid, because of social media, because of Ukraine war, because of rising energy bills.  But there were always plenty of things that people were anxious about.  People are anxious about money, children, health, relationships with others, relationship with God, visas, where will I live.

What is anxiety?  I am anxious when I think something bad is going to happen to someone or something I care about and knowing that affects me somehow.

Every human experiences some kind of anxiety.  Not all anxiety is bad – we should care when a loved one goes to hospital or when a church leader resigns.  Paul says ‘don’t be anxious’ but uses the same word about the churches he is ‘anxious’ about.

Anxiety affects the whole of me – my soul and body.  I feel anxiety in my body.  Where do I feel it?

We can change some of the symptoms of anxiety at the body level.  The headache, palpitations, tummy troubles.  These come from adrenalin.  Beta blocker drugs can block these.  But that has not cured anxiety.  It may be worth doing.  It may help us address the underlying causes without the distraction of physical symptoms.  Other drugs are often used – like alcohol – which may numb things.  But like all drugs alcohol has side-effects.  If your alcohol intake is concerning you or people who know you are concerned, then you’d be wise to explore ways back up that path.  The fact that people go to this extent to deal with it, shows how powerfully affecting anxiety is.

Anxiety comes from our thinking.  So talking therapy – used to be called counselling – that can help.  Are the things we are worrying about worth worrying about?  Will worrying make any difference?  Can we address those worries?  If your worries are about money, sitting down – perhaps with a friend – and looking at the finances, the budget, can help because your understanding of the issue is clear.  But these don’t get us to the depths that scripture takes us.  The Bible says God will use all things to make us more like Jesus.  How will God use things that make me anxious to make me more like Jesus?

Anxiety can affect our social lives.  Choosing to conceal anxiety from others, we end up isolated from others.

The Big Bible picture

Do we want to be cured of anxiety?  Anxiety might be considered part of the course of life.  No-one ever gets to be completely free from anxiety.  We want to be free from the crippling anxiety.  But normal anxieties: It is a healthy reaction in a dangerous world.  Perhaps anxiety is good and healthy?  The world says we’re animals who’ve learned to run away from predators.  An antelope see a lion, the adrenalin surge enables it to run fast and breath fast.  Anxiety is simply understood in terms of fright then flight or fight response.  Those things happen in us.  But more is going on.

Think about how anxiety is described across the whole Bible story.  In the beginning, there was no fear.  At the end, there will be no fear.  In the present stage of God’s plan, fear and anxiety mark our lives.

In Creation, we were made for relationship with God.  In Eden, fear and anxiety and worry are unknown and unneeded.  Why need to worry – they are in a beautiful place, they have each other, they have the constant company of their creator.  God created us with eyes, ears and all senses to appreciate things around us – including enjoying God.

But early on in the Bible story, we become separated from God and become afraid of God.  Adam said, ‘I hide because I was afraid’.  We have many threats in life – failure, pain, sickness, broken relationships and death.  There seems so much to worry about, so anxiety seems inevitable.  Most of all, death.  If we are aware that we will die, no one can say to us: cheer up, it won’t happen.

We are surrounded by powers greater than us: human authorities, satan, death, other people who keep conflicting with us.  The senses God gave us can see these things going wrong.  The senses made to thrill us with him now present us with evidence that we are in a threatening world.

But God comes alongside us and redeems us addressing the problems created by sin and curse.  Every one of our external enemies is weaker than our God.  We are safe from all external threats and enemies, even from sin and from death.  The eyes that he created can be opened again to see him in his majesty and in his humanity coming to save us.  And he promises a paradise restored.  There will be nothing to worry about in the new creation.  The enemies are still there, but they do not have a future.  We have in our possession by the grace of God, the best response to any sort of anxiety.  The news of Jesus.

How God uses our anxieties

Our anxieties act as a reminder to us that we are still in the corrupted world.  The Bible tells us that the solution lies in dealing with the greatest problem – sin, separation from God and death. Everything else is like a sticking plaster over that.

So don’t stop in thinking anxiety can be good as a motivator or that beta blockers and CBT can reduce it.  We are grateful to God for the help from drugs and talking therapies.  But the gospel tells us that the real issue is sin, separation from God and death.  The gospel reminds us of help for today and bright hope for tomorrow.  God gives anxious situations not just to develop fight and flight responses – so we survive – but that we learn to call on him and so really live.

  • Anxiety can be an alarm that wakes us up to turn to him and trust in him.
  • Sometimes God reduces our anxiety – teaching us a better sense of how great and powerful he is.
  • Sometimes he gives us better things to worry about.
  • Sometimes he shows us anxious people alongside us – so we can learn to be less self-preoccupied and learn to help them.
  • Sometimes God makes no difference to our anxieties, except that we are talking about it.
  • Sometimes the anxiety reminds us that we are in a broken world.

 

 

 

Some Bible passages

‘Do not be afraid’ is the commonest command in the Bible – not ‘love me’ nor ‘have faith’.  God knows we live in a scary world.  He comes close and without losing patience, says again and again and again – do not be afraid.

  1. Psalm 46

V1 is not ‘he is a help FROM trouble’ but ‘help IN trouble’.  If the whole world collapses, if the relationships on which we rely seem scarily fragile.  If our health feels like it is fading. God’s people need not fear – he is an ever-present help IN trouble.  If he can keep us safe whilst the mountains fall around us, then it is ok for the mountains to fall around us, because we will be safe.

 

  1. Psalm 131

Like a weaned child – full and content, not anxious about where the next meal comes from.  In a world where so much is unknown, we can be less concerned.  There are things we can’t understand, let alone control. We are always being invited to worry about things that we can’t understand and about which we have no control.  We need to allow the Lord to worry about those things he is in charge of – know the difference between his responsibility and my responsibility.  We often try to take on things that only he can do.  I can’t save you.  I can’t make you like me.  I can try to love you and I can seek forgiveness when I get it wrong.  Knowing what are my concerns and what are for God to be concerned about is a helpful way to deal with my anxieties.  What are the underlying concerns that reflect this misapprehension?

 

  1. Matthew 6

There are two possible places to put our trust – serving God or serving money.  But serving money continues to grow our anxiety – what happens if we don’t have enough or it gets taken away.  Money is not personal – it makes no promises.  But God makes promises to care for us.  God the creator is better one to trust than money – and he calls himself our Father.  And he is a Father who knows how to give his children what they need.

 

 

  1. Philippians 4

Paul is full of joy about the difference that knowing Jesus makes.  So he doesn’t just say ‘do not be anxious’ nor ‘you’re clearly not praying enough’.  He says ‘the Lord is near’ then tells them to pray.  Present your requests to the Lord who is near.  We can look at any fear in my life and say ‘Jesus look at that, I’m scared, it feels scary.  What will we do about it?’  Jesus has feared facing death.

How do we love God in our anxieties?  And care for others in their anxieties?

What am I aware of?  What am I aware of that indicates anxiety?  The symptoms?

What are the things that make me afraid?  Rejection by others?

Why is that a fear – what am I afraid of?

What about God addresses this fear?

Think about his sovereignty – in everything –  not just in the generalities.  We need to make the connection to the specifics in our lives.    He is not afraid to open an envelope – he was there when the note was written.  He is sovereign over the surgeon and the knife tomorrow.  He is sovereign, knowing about the person I’ve lost touch with.  He know about the future.

We are frightened when there is too much information and we don’t know how to decide. He can give us wisdom.

What can we ask for from God?  Please help me to remember that I am safe in your care when I speak to the person I’m afraid of.

Who might help me?  Others may be able to point to parts of the Bible I haven’t read recently.  Be in the habit of sharing your anxieties with others.  It makes it easier for others to share their own fears.

Remember God’s intention may not be to remove my anxiety but to use my anxiety to draw me to himself.

Take others’ anxieties seriously – they are humans in a scary world.  Seek to understand why they are afraid.  Don’t brush people off who have expressed the vulnerability of admitting fears.  What do they fear and why is it scary to them?  Continue to show interest and ask them about things – pick up on the details.

Categories
News Notices

Email News 07/04/2022

This Sunday we will have our first Sunday Lord’s Supper in a long time.  If you do not want to share it because of concern about Covid, you will welcome to simply sit.  The teaching will be on the topic of anxiety, looking at Psalm 46, Matthew 6:24-34 and Philippians 4:4-7.  It would be a help if you can read this beforehand.

If you can’t come because of health concerns, Zoom will be available – details below.

 

Can we have good anger?

The coming week leads into Easter.  The world thinks Christmas is the main Christian celebration.  Believers in Jesus know that his death and resurrection (Easter) are more significant than his birth (Christmas).  Because it is a special time, we have several special events next week – details at the end of this e-mail.

One week before Easter weekend, Jesus arrived in Jerusalem.  He went to the temple and became angry at the tradesmen there selling animals for sacrifices.  They were using the prayer area as a market, preventing people from praying.

People sometimes use this episode to justify their anger.  They say, ‘Anger can’t be wrong.  Jesus was angry.’   But Jesus anger was very different from the usual reasons we get angry.  He wasn’t angry because someone offended him or threatened his comfort.  He was angry because of the unjust treatment of the weak and the dishonouring of his Father.

 

One writer says this:

In most of our experiences, even our most righteous anger is tinged with ungodliness.  For example: I was crossing a road and was nearly hit by a car because the driver had not signalled. I was angry. Had you asked me why I was angry, I might have said this: “I am angry because this behaviour threatens the good, moral order of society. This behaviour is wrong. I am right to be angry.” But while there is truth in that, I was also angry because I had personally been inconvenienced. I was more angry than if I had seen this happen to somebody else. Even my righteous anger was mixed with sin.

Do you get angry?  To know deeply that we are intimately loved sons and daughters of God (Eph. 5:1) is a life- changing experience. If you are a Christian, do not give up hope of change. Becoming like Jesus is hard work – as we battle our sinful desires which resist the change.  But God will complete his good work in you (Phil 1:6).

Here and here you can read the full webpages that I have quoted.

 

The church council (PCC) met on Monday.  The main topic was the start of a review of church culture – what character traits we value and desire in leaders (vicar, staff, growth group leaders, Sunday school leaders…) – and how leadership can be more accountable

 

Dates:

It’s great to get together outside of usual church meeting times, so a walk has been arranged in Eastbrookend country park on Saturday 9 April. Meet at 10:30 at the Discovery Centre (RM7 0SS) There’s plenty of parking there or bus route 174 stops nearby. There are tearooms and toilets at the Discovery Centre – we can continue time together over a cuppa. If you’d like to come, but can’t walk, just come along to the tea rooms to chat and we’ll meet you after. Hope you can join us.

10 April Lord’s Supper

14 April Maundy Thursday 7 p.m. meal

Good Friday 10.30 a.m. all-age church

Easter Sunday 10.30 a.m. all-age church

19, 20 April No growth groups

Joel Edwards

(Vicar, Dagenham Parish Church)
0208 215 2962
http://www.dagenhamparishchurch.org/

I am not always on-line and so may not reply to e.mails quickly.

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News Notices

Please book a ticket for Sunday Church

Direct Link to booking for 9th May 9 a.m and 10.30 a.m.

Visitors Start here:

Government guidance allows us to continue to meet in the church building.  Please do not attend and use Zoom instead if

  • you are clinically vulnerable,
  • you or someone in close contact with you have sypmtoms of covid-19 in the past 10 days
  • you or someone in close contact with you have tested positive for covid-19 in the past 10 days. 

Please book a place if you intend to come.  This will help us reduce infection risk and help Sunday school to prepare.  You can book using the online system (links at top of page). 

Please see this short video of how it will work.

 

Book Tickets Here

Watch this video of how to book tickets.

 

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News

Hey I’m New – What do I Do?

We realise that coming to a church for the first time can be scary. On this page we have hope you will find some practical help to make your visit as easy as possible.

Common 

questions

we get asked…

 

  • “What should I wear?”
    There is no dress code. Please feel free to wear whatever you are most comfortable wearing.
  • “Do I have to say anything in front of others?”
    No! Most of our time together is led from the front.
  • “What if I don’t know the songs?”
    Don’t worry. Feel free to listen. Most of them are easy to learn and you will pick them up.
  • “What if I don’t speak English very well?”
    You are very welcome. We aim to help as much as possible with understanding and there are other ways we can help you to learn English.

Click below to find out more…

Sundays

Other Activities

Find us

Talk to us

Categories
Building news

Hidden from view – but not to you!

Steve Fenn made his journey for us up the tower and took his camera: so here they are just for you.

Well there we are not out of breath, not in danger and the wiser for it.  Thanks Steve

Categories
News

Disabled Access to our service.

We have the facility of a ramp for wheelchair users. If you wish to attend our service please come early for us to assist you with the ramp. Or please contact us by telephone to pre arrange your visit.  Our Sunday service is from 10.30am to about 12am.

Please call the church office:  02082152962

For Deaf people wishing to attend there are BSL signers who will assist you with your visit.

Please call the church office:  02082152962

We have a Loop system for people with hearing aids please do not hesitate to ask for assistance if required

We encourage everyone to worship with us on Sunday morning.  If we can assist you in attending please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance

Please call the church office:  02082152962

Categories
News Teaching

Jesus Is Building His Church: How God Trains Us Through Church

A fishy tale

One morning, two young fish were swimming along together. An older fish swam the other way. “Morning boys, how’s the water today?” he asked.  It was not until 30 minutes later that one of the youngsters turned to the other and say “what is water?”

The point of this strange story is that we are surrounded by ways of living but we don’t see them. More seriously, we are being trained into wrong ways of living but we don’t notice it. Paul tells us we can be trained or influenced or conformed by the world

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:1,2

The world is the things around us that influence us to think God can’t be trusted and his ways are not good for us. That happens through adverts, songs, internet, films and in the way people around us party, use their money and train their children.  An example is the world’s pattern for shopping.

THE PATTERN OF THE WORLD: AN EXAMPLE

The adverts tell us there is something missing in our lives. They tell us the answer to that gap is to buy something. Perhaps you have been influenced by this to buy things that you could afford?

We may go with others to the shops for a ‘trip out’. But shopping is not something that helps us grow together. Look at a group at the shops – when another person joins the group, everyone eyes up their fashion sense – they observe the shoes and handbags and mobile phone.

Shopping the world’s way teaches us to overvalue things (we enjoy them for making us special in the eyes of others, rather than just using the things).

The world tells us that buying things will make us feel better. But the product’s benefit quickly wears off. When we next feel low, we have learned that a shopping trip will cheer us up. So off we go and buy more.

Shopping the world’s way also teaches us to undervalue things (we throw them away to quickly because we think we need an ‘up-grade’).

When we go to the shops or shop on-line, we might be like the young fish in the story: We may not appreciate how we are being conformed or trained to fit in with the pattern of this world.

This view of shopping is just one of many ways the world influences us.  The good news is that God uses church to give us a true outlook.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2

GOD USES CHURCH TO TRAIN US

If you are a Christian, God has already given you a renewed mind – a new way of looking at life. But we need to be trained or conformed to fit with that. Church is one way God does that.

The things we do in a church meeting follow a particular order;

  1. We meet one another, welcoming one another as people who need help just like we need God’s
  2. We start our meeting with God’s word, remembering who he
  3. We admit our sin to God and remember his kindness in
  4. We sing, using songs that will help us hear God’s truth, that will train us to fit the right emotions with that truth and that we can sing together, as one church
  5. We hear of church family events and ask God to be at Our prayers are not ‘me’ and ‘I’ but ‘we’ and ‘us’ – we are learning to be a family.
  6. We hear God’s word read and We trust the Holy Spirit will turn the words of the teacher into the voice of God that his children hear.
  7. We finish our time with words of scripture, spoken by all of us, to each other, encouraging each other to live as Christians in all of life, not just on a
  8. We continue to meet over coffee, trying to speak helpfully to each other.

 

  • Think again about Make a list before you shop so you don’t buy things you don’t need. Teach your children to spot the false lies in adverts. What ways is the world most effective in influencing you?

 

  • Think again about Don’t come expecting to be entertained, come to join in. Don’t act like a customer, expecting to get a good service, come to join in. Don’t expect it to be easy and soothing, training can be hard work, ask an athlete.