Nigel Ring on May 20th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 10.46.11Last time we saw how the word ‘volunteer’ often has the associations of ‘charity’, such as helping those who are in need, or of ‘essential service’, such as the volunteer reserves in the armed forces. Both these aspects can be found in the Bible.

Old Testament
In the Old Testament translations there are several occasions where ‘volunteer’ is used (more in the NASB than in the ESV, which I normally quote from).

Ps 110: 3 ‘Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power…’ (ESV), ‘…volunteer freely…’ (NASB)

Judges 5:2 (Song of Deborah and Barak) ‘That the leaders took the lead in Israel, that the people offered themselves willingly…’ (ESV), ‘…the people volunteered…’ (NASB).

Judges 5:9 ‘My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel who offered themselves willingly among the people…’ (ESV), ‘My heart goes out to the commanders of Israel, the volunteers among the people…’ (NASB)

Neh 11:2 ‘And the people blessed all the men who willingly offered to live in Jerusalem’. (ESV) ‘And the people blessed all the men who volunteered to live in Jerusalem’. (NASB)

All these references refer to major issues where people make a freewill choice; to fight alongside others, to conform to a governmental structure, etc. None is ‘charitable’ but all refer to a person’s personal decision or choice to become involved in a particular way, similar to those who volunteer to become part of a disciplined army or emergency service in our generation.

New Testament
In the New Testament we do not find the word ‘volunteer’ as such, but there are many occasions on which people give themselves to serving one another willingly, including in ‘charitable’ ways. The Kingdom mandate of Is 61:1-3, quoted by Jesus about himself in Lk 4:18-19, focuses on his calling to serve those who are poor; this scripture surely also applies to the church, his body now on earth. Other examples are plentiful (eg Matt 25:31-46, Jas 2:14-24, Heb 13:1-3).

Army and Charity
Combining these two perspectives – ‘army’ and ‘charity’ – how might this apply to us? In the Old Testament examples people ‘offered themselves freely’. But we live in a different dispensation so should expect even more than this freewill decision. There is ‘added value’ for us. What is it?

We have been amazingly and wonderfully saved by and daily benefit from the sacrificial love of Jesus who willingly abandoned his rightful place at the right hand of the father to become a servant (Phil 2:5-8) for our sake. And in doing so he totally subjected his will to the father.

As we become Christians we are drafted into the army of God. In any army there is discipline and the necessity to work together with colleagues under the authority of the officers in charge. We may not be paid and to that extent we are volunteers, but we know that we have been saved for purpose, and if we are to fulfil that purpose we submit ourselves willingly to him and follow his direction, just as a volunteer in the armed forces submits himself to the direction of the leaders. What a privilege!

It’s for our sanctification!
Once that decision has been made we come under the leaders’ authority with all the discipline and obedience that implies. That does not guarantee an easy ride. Discipline is sometimes hard. The soldier who decides not to get out of bed in the morning for parade would not enjoy duvet-comfort for long! Nor should we if we commit to serve, say, on a Sunday rota and don’t ‘turn up’. But as we trust the leaders of the church, who lead the church to serve God’s vision and have our best interests at heart, we can serve with joy and fulfilment even if, at times, we don’t really want to. Such service is part of our sanctifying process; it gives us the opportunity to become more like Jesus who always did what the Father told him.

Next time we shall begin to look at some of the practical matters related to ‘volunteering’ in the church.

 

 

 

 

 

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Nigel Ring on May 12th, 2015

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 11.58.37People seem to have appreciated my recent updates from around the Newfrontiers spheres with whom I have contact. I have recently heard from Guinea and think that, following ebola and my appeal for sponsorship for school children, this would be of interest. Thank you to all who helped with the ebola appeal and who have offered to sponsor a child. We do still need more sponsors – £10/month. Can you help? If so click here to request details.

Newsletter from Nicolas Thebault

Last week I was in a taxi driven by a 77 year old chauffeur! This person explained to me as we were returning home that the new drivers do not know how to drive and the new police officers do not know the driving code because everyone buys their driving license without taking the test. The funniest thing was that at that moment he was on the wrong side of a ramp on the motorway crying and hooting the horn so that everyone would let him pass!

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 11.00.10It is a little bit the same thing with the Ebola crisis! The weekend when a doctor we know told us that there are no more cases of Ebola in Guinea, the authorities closed the frontiers with Sierra Leone and announced a state of sanitation emergency for 45 days. It is always difficult for us to understand what is happening even after living here for 12 years.

Since our last newsletter in November and up to the reopening of the schools on 19th January (instead of the 3rd October) we have been living through some difficult months; we could not pay the salary of our 30 teachers. But God is faithful! Someone who recognised this decided on their own back to do some different actions in their village in England to send us a sum of money as a Christmas present, to all our teachers who had not been paid since the end of October. They received two thirds of one month’s salary. They are still talking about it!

The Jubilee School has been able to do the work asked for by the authorities who then recommended us to UNICEF because of the serious way in which we applied these measures of prevention against the spread of Ebola.

We have been able to reopen our doors on the 19th January and we have 329 pupils registered at Conakry, 70 at Koukoudé. Without your help and all your prayers this would never have been possible.

On the behalf of everyone here, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

Rom 5:6 When we were still powerless, Christ died for us.

 

Departure for the BECE  (equivalent to the  ‘O’levels)

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 11.20.00Because of Ebola, the exams were postponed since last July. On Monday 23rd March, we learnt that the exam would finally take place on Monday 30th March in Sierra Leone. As Authorities had decreed a curfew on everyone from Friday 27th to Sunday 29th there was the necessity to organise in three days the voyage for the 30 pupils. 20 got on the 9 seater bus with Maina, the Principal. The other 10 followed the next Monday since their tests were only starting on Thursday2nd April. Then, everything got really complicated when Guinea then decided to close its frontier with Sierra Leone without any warning on the Monday morning!

Finally after lots of adventures, and after many prayers and the intervention of someone in the embassy of Sierra Leone, they succeeded in crossing the border on the Tuesday evening with 10 pupils who could take their exam on time. We hoped they would be able to return to Conakry one day (they actually did without any trouble!!).

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 11.32.45Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 11.31.33
Despite all the difficulties, Maina above with her two children (extremes of the left photo) and Auntie (far right) maintain the vision of the school:

An education for all in an atmosphere of love and respect

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 14.49.21Light of the Nations Church
Although I had expressed to God my despair at all the situations we have had to face since the beginning of January, God really spoke to me through Numbers11: 11 – 17. Without going into details, we received the promise that everyone would have enough to eat, if we the elders delegate our work even more and train a new generation. Since we put this into practice our situation, particularly financial, has completely changed in three months. Because of the initiatives of John Hammond, Sam Amara, Martyn Dunsford, Nigel Ring, David Nunn, the churches of Paris and Lyon, and many others, we see once again that God is providing for all our needs. We have a very large sum of money to pay for the lease of the land for the next 12 years, the land on which we must build before June 2017.

BREAKING NEWS STOP – BREAKING NEWS STOP – BREAKING NEWS
Former student killed

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The runner (in colour) on the photo, one of our former Jubilee pupils, was shot & killed on the 13th April whilst he was protecting a shop which was being looted after demonstrations regarding the presidential elections scheduled for the the middle of October. He had left the school last year.

The demonstrations started again recently with deaths, injuries and again more disorder in the country. The families have not been sending their children to the Jubilee School for these last two weeks following all these problems. Pray for the protection of all the members of the church and for Jubilee.

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Nigel Ring on May 7th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-05-07 at 10.46.11Passionate people
The practical energy of the local church comes through the membership. Where else can one find a body of such committed, passionate and unified people who are willing to give of their time and energies so sacrificially for the sake of a cause they believe in? We are a privileged people when we are part of such a living vibrant community of focussed and purposeful individuals.

This passion is perhaps first felt in the early church where we see the way they lived together in Acts 2. Immediately after being filled with the Spirit at Pentecost, the church’s birth day, we find that the people ‘devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers’ (Acts 2:42). This sentence embodies the very essence of the church, the non-negotiable minima. These four elements – teaching, fellowship, remembering and celebrating the Lord’s death and resurrection, and direct communion with God our Father – in large measure define what a ‘church’ is and does. But who are the church?

Kingdom community
We are a community of people, both local and worldwide, who have been created and chosen from before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4) ‘for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them’ (Eph 2:10). Paul goes on to teach us that we are all members of the body, each having a role to play, and as we do so, and work in harmony with others, the body grows healthily (Eph 4:16). He does not differentiate between paid and unpaid members of the church. He talks about every member having a place

Most people in the church are not paid by the church – they are, as the world would say, ‘volunteers’. But let’s unpack that word. ‘Volunteer’ carries implications which may be counter to some of the ways in which the Bible sees them. What are some of the words and phrases we would associate with ‘volunteer’? Here are a few: Charity, Unpaid, Good cause, Do good, Free labour, Spare time. However, in the UK, and I am sure elsewhere, it is not only the charity-type words that are associated with ‘volunteer’; it is also used for some ‘essential services’ eg Volunteer Reserves (a part of the armed services), The Lifeboat Institute, The Fire Service. These all rely heavily on volunteers to supplement their paid staff in front line roles, often facing danger and emotional challenges.

I feel it is these latter people who more closely equate with what Paul is teaching about how the church should function, people who are mobilised as a working force rather than the cosy words associated with charities. Such an environment carries other word associations – discipline, training, structure, clear lines of authority etc, in contrast to the ‘take it or leave it’ options often associated with charity volunteers demonstrated by those who may be on a rota and yet do not feel a great obligation to turn up if some alternative arises. There is probably real and substantial ‘middle ground’ between these two extreme models – ‘charity’ and ‘essential services’ – but I trust that highlighting these extremes will cause you to think in greater depth about how you view ‘volunteer’ in the context of the church.

Next time we will look to see what the Bible says about volunteers.

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Nigel Ring on April 29th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 09.20.43Here is another update from one of the Newfrontiers apostolic spheres.

Recently I was privileged to join the leaders of 14 churches in the UK as they met in Crewe for two days with Steve Oliver. Steve is from South Africa though now living in Dubai where God’s favour has been on him to strengthen and grow the church he joined 5 years ago and to plant another two churches from there. He also travels widely bringing oversight to churches on five continents. His apostolic sphere is called Regions Beyond.

The days together began with worship and prophetic outpouring. God quickly told us that there was a path laid with flagstones for us to walk into new places and nations. This was emphasised by a prophecy using the fact we were near Crewe – a major hub of the national railway – which told us that we were to plant into significant cities. This was confirmed by an email Steve had received within the previous hour from Dubai with an almost identical word based around the town of Crewe.

Dreams
In the following sessions Steve laid out something of his own history and walk with God including dreams he has carried:

-  Diverse churches with common vision for the world
-  Apostolic people group caring for far off Islands
-  Each community feeling included and important
-  People with conscious bias towards one another’s success
-  Wonderful local churches to impact communities
-  Hundreds of sons and daughters capable and willing to count the cost and plant churches around the world

150418 Colin and Pam NicholsHe shared how he feels the starting gun is being fired for this to come about (although much is already happening!). For instance, he referred to Colin and Pam Nichols going imminently from UK to Bloemfontein to plant a church, a location Steve has carried in his heart for many years. Later we had the opportunity to pray for Colin and Pam.

Church planting
Steve spoke of other churches also being planted: Durbanville in South Africa would be launched within two days of our conference, Edenbridge in UK to be a ‘church planting church’, Maseru in Lesotho, Mauritius, Eritrea…. The list went on.

Steve also updated us on his own position. He has now passed on leadership of the church in Dubai to others in order to give himself to the wider ministry – even he is human and became very over-stretched last year.

Raising up leaders
Sharing from Numbers 11 he spoke of the urgent need to raise up more leaders and of his plans to launch a Task Team (one of several) led by Gareth Wales to develop a programme of training.

Strategically he is defining the churches he oversees into geographical hubs, following the advice he has received from David Devenish, who is implementing such a structure within his own sphere, Catalyst.

Prayer
The days ended with further prayer, particularly for those who are going out to plant churches, and also for Burundi which is going through serious unrest as a nation pending elections at the end of June. This unrest is hindering the advance of the gospel; 1 Tim 2:1, 2 encourages us to pray for the authorities so that the church might live in peace.

These are just headlines through my personal recollection of these days away. Now listen to Steve himself as he spoke to me about some of the things on his heart. (I apologise for some glitches on the soundtrack.)

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 09.35.51

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Nigel Ring on April 24th, 2015

screen-shot-2013-03-04-at-142243

I have just received the following prayer request for Burundi from Simon Guillebaud (www.greatlakesoutreach.org) whom many of you know – he has been a speaker in several Newfrontiers Churches and at Newday.

‘This is an URGENT plea for prayers for Burundi. Few expect it to be peaceful this weekend.

‘Tomorrow we anticipate the President announcing his candidacy for a 3rd term, which many consider illegal. As and when he does, the opposition has vowed to pour out onto the streets. Small groups did last week and both tear-gas and water-cannons were used, but thankfully nobody was killed. I don’t want to be alarmist, but I have never seen such fear in Burundians. Thousands have fled the country. Concerned friends have told me to get the family out before tomorrow. We have stockpiled food, phone cards etc. I could write more, but you get the picture. If the embassy calls for an evacuation, I would send Lizzie and the children home, but not before. 

‘The worst-case scenario is a complete breakdown in law and order taking us back to zero as a nation. The best-case scenario is that somehow God overrules through the millions of Burundians and others (like you) around the world interceding. That is what we are hoping/praying for, and hence this email to you before you go home for the weekend.

‘Meantime, believe it or not, life goes on relatively normally. We will be going to one of Grace’s friend’s birthday party tomorrow unless the streets are blocked off – it’s pretty surreal.

‘In any case, through our work people are coming to Jesus daily. Although it’s tempting to succumb to fear, we are called to live by faith. God is still on His throne, and we need to behave like we believe it. 

‘So in the immediate, the next 48 hours are critical. I’ll update you again shortly.

‘Thanks for standing with us’.

I have been aware of the dire situation in Burundi for several weeks. The local person we are working with, who leads the initiatives related to Newfrontiers/Regions Beyond (Steve Oliver’s apostolic sphere), has already evacuated his family. I understand that the situation feels as tense as the pre-genocide era of the early 90s.

Please pray. Please ask your churches to pray. 1 Tim 2:1,2 exhorts us to pray for those in authority so that ‘we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity’. Please pray for those in authority and for those who cannot flee, including the gathering of believers we are in touch with that has been meeting in recent months. Also for those in the IDP (Internally Displaced People) camps who are already living in extreme poverty; we have been helping with food through Regions Beyond, the Gateway Church, Swindon, and Hope for Tomorrow Global.

PRAY, PRAY, PRAY.

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Nigel Ring on April 22nd, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 20.24.53The Nations
Last time I began to report on two days of prayer I enjoyed recently with Guy Miller’s leaders. Now let’s turn to the nations.

Reaching out to the nations has always been an important part of the ministry of Newfrontiers, as exemplified by the name. This has been continued within Guy’s sphere. Across the two days there were many opportunities to hear reports and to pray for individual situations.

Recently Guy and his wife, Heather, had been in Bolivia, South America, visiting a church which has long been associated with the Newfrontiers family but, by dint of its location, often felt a bit ‘on the edge’. I am sure it must have been refreshing for the church to welcome them, but for Guy and Heather it was also a challenging time as they got to know the culture and situation, and to experience some of the security issues. The church is led by a couple from the UK; I regard those who have laid down their lives to live and serve in some of these circumstances as heroes!

Guy also had the chance to meet with a significant ministry which is training church planters. There was much they could share together. Who knows whether God has something in the way of partnership planned for the future?

Other nations also became the focus of prayer. With about ten different geographical regions of the sphere marked out in the meeting hall we were urged to visit two or three locations in one session and pray in depth for the particularly nation following a helpful briefing. There was even a Skype link to one ‘hot’ location; it was good to stand with the leader and pray with him.

The UK
Within the UK Guy’s team is involved with many churches. John Groves helpfully identified some of the social issues and trends across the nation and urged leaders to encourage their churches to get involved in the imminent General Election, maybe arranging a hustings (gathering of parliamentary candidates for a Question and Answer session). We were then able to pray for the nation.

They are also on the front foot with church planting with various initiatives taking place to plant into new towns. The UK is in desperate need of the gospel; the description of us as a ‘Christian’ nation seems to have long since lost its accuracy. So, we were able to call on God to visit us once again in revival power.

The days ended with a time of prayer for individuals. There were some words of knowledge which must have been of great encouragement to the individuals concerned, as well as the opportunity to pray for one another, always an encouragement!

Thank you Guy for allowing me to join such a fine body of men and women for these two days!

 

 

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Nigel Ring on April 15th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 20.24.53Continuing to bring some news from across the apostolic spheres of Newfrontiers I would like to tell you of a recent time I had with some of the Commission leaders, the apostolic sphere within the Newfrontiers family that is led by Guy Miller in the UK.

I have had the privilege of knowing Guy for many years and, particularly due to my long-standing involvement in India, have got to know many of his leaders who have also been involved there over the past 12 years. Guy has generously extended an open invitation to me to join the leaders for prayer days etc which is a joy and a privilege. I have also been involved with his strategic task team for ministry with the poor (another of my passions!) led by Miles Jarvis.

Prayer Days
The two recent prayer days were a time of fellowship with over 100 leaders and Impact trainees. They comprised news updates from the various nations Guy is involved with in Asia, The Middle East, The Iberian Peninsular and South America, and two days of working prayer.

The prophetic is always an important part of such prayer days and in the first session Greg Haslam brought a helpful word about beautiful china not being for show in a display cabinet but for using. How important it is that we are all active in exercising the gifts that God has put within us!

Early in our time together Guy shared about the gathering he had recently attended with the other UK-based apostolic leaders. Over the last few years a transition has taken place with Newfrontiers which has moved from being a family of churches centred around Terry Virgo’s apostolic gift and ministry to a family/network of apostolic spheres. Each sphere has its own name (eg Commission) but all remain a part of the Newfrontiers family. Guy reported how their time together included reviewing how each sphere had developed and particularly expressing the desire to remain closely linked and supportive of one another; ‘preferring one another’ is a value that is deeply embedded in the culture of Newfrontiers, echoing an early prophetic word that we can achieve ‘more together than apart’.

Building on this sense of togetherness it was so helpful to be shown two videos during the days together. In one, David Holden, who leads the New Ground sphere, shared how they are seeking to plant a church in every major European city. He shared some challenging statistics showing how needy that continent is for the gospel. He also reported on a leadership training academy they have launched through the internet, with 15 satellites, and of their close partnership with Scott Marques’ sphere in Zimbabwe. How helpful it was to have seen this video and what a joy to be able to pray together into some of the matters he high-lighted.

On Day 2 we watched a similar contribution from David Devenish who leads the Catalyst sphere. David is always a provocation. His capacity and gifting are immense and it was faith-building to hear of some of the areas of the world in which he is involved. He and his teams travel extensively into some of the less attractive nations (certainly not on the tourist trail!) where he is equipping church leaders and those with apostolic gifting. He also shared about their preparations for the Catalyst Festival to be held at the end of May at Stoneleigh (some déjà vu there for many people who used to attend the Stoneleigh Bible Weeks 1991 – 2001!). Once again it was a privilege then to stand and pray in depth for David and his sphere, a demonstration of parts of the body supporting and affirming one another.

Next time I will report on some of Guy’s ministry into the nations.

 

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Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 10.49.20 Don’t miss the 30% Discount!!
For the early bird discount you need to book by midnight on Friday 10th.

Have you booked yet?
Are you coming yourself? If you are a church leader are you sending people? Elders would find the day particularly helpful as it will help you to know how to encourage and manage your staff in ways that will release you to be more effective. Why not come as a team?

Programme of workshops
As well as the all-together sessions, including the opportunity to receive personal prayer, each participant will be able to attend two workshops:

> Time management

> Managing, supporting or leading change: staying connected to the Father’s heart

> Identifying, recruiting and training volunteers

> Building an admin team

> Communications and creativity

> Give your organisation a spiritual healthcheck

> Leading yourself and working out of rest

> Dealing with difficult people

Book Here

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Nigel Ring on April 7th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-05 at 17.16.52Following the recent massacre in Garissa I was in touch with Edward Buria, based in Meru, who leads an apostolic sphere within the Newfrontiers family. Knowing how, with the growth of Newfrontiers, some find it hard to keep in touch with what is going on in other apostolic spheres I thought you might like to read extracts of his response. I plan to give news from some other spheres in the coming weeks; I am privileged to be involved in several and can bring reports from a personal perspective.

Edward writes:

Terror attack
“We are a Nation in mourning once again after the 147 deaths of very precious young & promising Kenyans at the hands of terrorists. Like all other times, even in this grief we remain united as a Nation; it’s in such moments when we also have to release our faith in God like Job who said even if you were to slay me I STILL WILL TRUST YOU. Let us lift our heads up knowing that our help comes from the Lord & at the same time be reminded that He will never leave or forsake us. Our God reigns and therefore victory does not belong to the enemy but to us! We have overcome in the past & even in this we are overcomes.

Drought
“Sadly this attack comes at a time the country has been facing a severe drought that triggered a massive famine that once again forced us to start relief supplies among our people in the most affected places. The famine overwhelmed our local response for me to once again make a passionate appeal to friends from outside Kenya.” (What follows was sent to apostolic leaders several weeks ago.)

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“One morning recently I woke up thinking to myself what another great day ahead! Filled my heart with songs of praise to God as usual & started to program myself for the day ahead. When I was just about to leave home for my office, I suddenly received a telephone call from our dear brother and co-worker in the Lord Jesus, Joseph from Turkana. From the way he sounded, I knew all was not well. He shared with me very disturbing news about our brothers and sisters who once again are threatened by death from the on-going famine in Turkana which happens to be the worst hit area in Kenya.

“The drought being experienced in some parts of the country is so severe as it has forced children (in the affected areas) to abandon schooling as their bodies are too weak to cope. Among the pastoralist communities, the government is asking people to sell their weak animals at whatever price they can fetch to avoid loosing all their animals to the effects of the drought.

“Hearing Joseph narrate the sufferings our brothers and sisters are facing especially the four churches located at Kerio Valley, within Turkana, my heart was so moved by all the sad stories that included hearing of lives actually being lost as a result of the famine. Pastor James who oversees 14 of our churches in East Samburu has also called with the same story of lives being threatened by starvation. Immediately I mobilised our better-placed churches to give any assistance possible towards this crisis. We have sent funds to Joseph & our teams in Turkana who have already purchased the much-needed children’s food (Unimix), cereals (maize/beans) and energy giving food for immediate supply to the needy people.”

Appeal
“The need is greater than our churches in Kenya can bear in terms of continued assistance until the situation normalises in the next few months. I find myself having to appeal for urgent assistance from our friends outside of Kenya.”

If you wish to respond to this appeal donations can be channelled through Paul Wright at The Kings Church, Mid Sussex who have an on-going relationship with Edward.

 

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screen-shot-2011-05-17-at-084345-copy2Last time we saw how there can be an argument for having a separate charity for carrying out some ministries, particularly the social action ministries, but that this is not always necessary. Nevertheless, where it is advisable eg for fund raising purposes, safeguards should be in place to keep the ministry closely integrated with the other activities of the church.

With this model the ways in which a ministry is viewed from within the church and from outside differ. From within, the people need to see all the ministries of the church in the same light, an expression of kingdom life in the community. They do not need to understand, or even be aware of, separate charities under which different aspects of the church function. From the outside (the ‘world’) the picture may be of one or more charities, each with its own objectives, that focus on the areas of need being met; the outside world’s awareness of the church may be minimal or non-existent.

Sub-committees
In many charities the trustees form the management team who make many of the day-to-day decisions. However, in the church, as we have seen, responsibility for the church’s management rests with the elders. Does this also apply to social action ministries? The answer must, of course, be ‘yes’ as they are an integral part of the church community and outreach.

It is essential for the elders to carry the spiritual oversight of and fully embrace all the church’s ministries including social action. But they may not have the expertise or time to give detailed input. Similarly the trustees must fulfil their responsibly of ‘guarding’ the charity. But, with the structure I have suggested, they too probably do not have the expertise or time to take on the traditional role of charity management in a detailed way. Often a specific ‘social action’ ministry will require specialist knowledge and skills.

So, in order to support the ministry there may be the need for specialists to be involved. For instance, in one ministry we had to reach trafficked women in the sex industry we needed the expertise of the police. To achieve this we wrote the legal document in a way that appropriate authority could be delegated by the trustees to a sub-committee or working party. They could then make decisions within defined boundaries.

In another ministry in which we were involved related to unplanned pregnancies we worked closely with other churches in the city while maintaining the legal and spiritual responsibility ie our church ‘held the reins’ but had wider support. In this case we created a Support Group of people from across the city who could bring the ‘added value’ of professional expertise to the ministry. But this was on an advisory not an executive basis.

Some legal requirements
In the charitable structures we have been discussing different bodies have decision-making or advisory powers. Regardless of which category these bodies fall into each has legal standing, whether elders, trustees, sub-committees or support groups. As such they are accountable to and through the trustees within the terms of the trust. Accordingly it is essential that minutes are kept and ‘signed off’ for all meetings of any of these bodies. Charities are in the public domain and, in event of a problem arising, a full trail of the decision-making process must be available.

The same is true of financial audits. The size of the charities’ finances determines the level of audit required but in all cases the finances must be well maintained and transparent.

Conclusion
In this short six-part series it has been impossible to cover all aspects of charities, their legal structure, the financial management etc. But the key message is that charities should not be set up in haste and should have a clear and accountable relationship with the life of the church; integrated as far as possible, not separate. Charities have longevity, and due care must be taken to ensure that they will serve your needs both now and well into the future. Be sure to use those who are knowledgeable when writing the legal instrument, such as a solicitor with charity expertise or a body like Stewardship. Also refer to the excellent resources available through the Charity Commission website. May you know God’s favour as you seek to advance the Kingdom of God!

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