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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 26

All together now

  By Tony Villiers

Someone said to me the other day that one of the things they loved best about Grace Church was its diversity. They commented on how great it is to see such an age range within the church - young and old mixing together, demonstrating genuine friendship and unity. As someone who recently reached one of the more mature milestone birthdays I am very happy to be a part of such a fellowship!

In many ways the church we've built together over the last decade reflects the broad mix of people who live in our city. Because of its relatively short history almost everyone in Milton Keynes is an incomer, from elsewhere in the UK or further afield. For some people who've moved away from friends and family coming to MK may be an isolating experience, after all each of us has a fundamental need of community. This is where the church can make all the difference. Knowing what friendly and outward-looking people we are I know I can say with confidence that all comers are welcome at Grace Church.

Diversity enriches the church in terms of skills, experience, culture, creativity, understanding and vitality, which can certainly help us as we build one another up to Christian maturity and seek to reach the lost. This diversity might happen as a happy by-product of doing church but I'd say it's too important to leave to chance. We must be intentional about it for diversity is in the DNA of the church Jesus wants to build. The church needs to counter the world's 'us and them' mentality. We don't have to look very far to see how differences between people have led to all kinds of strife in the world and that things like ethnicity, class, gender and tribalism keep people, groups and nations firmly divided and in conflict. The good news is that Jesus is our peace (see Ephesians 2:14-22). His death on the cross for our sin sweeps away the hostility between human beings. His all-forgiving love and reconciling power enables us to put aside our personal agendas and prejudices to become 'one new man', united with a single vision - glorifying Jesus, our Almighty King and the Lover of our Souls. And that's what holds our church together in all its diversity. As we show that we're united in Christ in spite of our differences we're demonstrating to the world around us something distinctly redeemed and powerful about Jesus' coming kingdom. We're giving our fallen world a glimpse of heaven, the place where there'll be a peace and joy beyond our imagining, not as a private experience we have to defend but as something that is shared by everyone there - a multitude comprising people of every nation, tribe and language, all united in worshipping Jesus forevermore. In the small, grace-filled ways we live together this is what we're pointing people towards, Grace Church!

Posted by Tony Villiers at 3:34 PM

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 11

Good reception

 By Tony Villiers

One the best things about being a church leader is that you get to teach and preach the wonderful truths of the Bible. I recently heard someone say that preaching and teaching is a bit like the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23). They claimed that just as the seed falls on four different types of terrain with only one - the good soil - being productive, you can expect a mere 25 per cent of what is taught to bear any fruit in those who hear it! From my experience this is far too negative an analysis.

I am so blessed by the people of Grace Church who seem to readily suck up the word like blotting paper soaking up ink, not merely listening but becoming doers of the word with all the blessings that brings (James 1:22-25). So thank you for making a nonsense of that gloomy statistic! As my time as Lead Elder comes to a close may I say what an honour it's been to lead such a humble and teachable group of people.

Posted by Tony Villiers at 6:57 PM