At the most recent AGM I had a chance to update the church on the previous year, both personally and in terms of the wider ministry at Tayside Christian Fellowship (TCF). What follows is a lightly edited summary of all that was discussed. We’ll start with the personal and move into the wider ministry at TCF.
For my wife and I this year has been all about relationship building. Our friendships with others in the congregation have been growing and deepening as we have lived life and spent time together. We have been reminded that every good and lasting friendship requires time, effort, and being intentional. All of these things are made even more difficult by the demanding world we live in. Our world places so many barriers to friendship in our way, but true spiritual friendship is one of the things that God will really use to change us deeply. However, if you pay careful attention you’ll find rich soil for growing friendships everywhere. In our experience it’s been digging through our allotment in Luncarty and getting to know some of our neighbours, or attending small group and going on walks and out for meals with others our age. Or dog-sitting for people in our community. I could go on, but I have been reminded that good, rich friendships are what our culture really needs and yet they are so seemingly hard to come by.
In and amongst the more personal updates it’s important to keep reminding ourselves of our shared mission – to seek to worship Jesus and communicate His love in all we do and say. This is a kind of ‘true north’ for us as a gathering of the larger church in the city of Perth; worship Jesus, communicate his love. We’ve been made imperfectly but genuinely seek to communicate his love in many ways this year, and my purpose here is to update you on how that has been progressing from my perspective as pastor called alongside the other elders to shepherd TCF. You’ll forgive a preacher for separating it into three sections, but we can think of it as word, discipleship, and prayer.
One of the ways we have sought to worship Jesus and communicate his love is through our gathered worship on a Sunday, which includes the preached word. God’s word is what forms us as a community, and is therefore central to our worship of and obedience to him. Our preaching calendar has covered a lot of ground this year, from Leviticus through to the Lord’s Prayer and our continued conviction as we look to the year ahead is that there should be a gospel shape and a gospel focus in all our preaching. The truth of Luke 24:27 is central to this: all of Christ in all of Scripture. In this coming year we aim to continue exposing people to as much of the bible and its good news as possible, while adjusting to take a little more time to slow down in books as a whole, particularly in the New Testament. While our preaching calendar for 2023-2024 is still taking shape at this time, we want to continue to make use of and develop those God has called and gifted to teach us his word, including them in the month-by-month preaching rota. In addition to this, the opportunity for inviting guest speakers from other churches in Perth and beyond to come and preach God’s word is something we want to explore going forwards.
Turning now to the area of discipleship, there are some encouraging areas in the life of the church where we can see the gospel bearing fruit. One is that we baptised two TCF attendees on April 16th, so please continue to pray for them as they seek to follow Jesus and live out their shared faith in very different circumstances. Another is that a number of our Youth Fellowship (YF) women have been meeting regularly with a more experienced older Christian to read the bible and pray together. The reports of their questions, conversations, and growth in the faith has been a joy to hear. It is clear that these things are springing up organically as the Holy Spirit does his work, so we want to be able to build a structure to support that continued growth. While we do not yet have a formalised discipleship program, we wish to provide opportunities for both formal and informal discipleship relationships at TCF in the year to come. All of this is alongside the normal rhythms of home groups, YF, and other opportunities for people to gather round God’s word and learn to (in the words of the Great Commission) obey all Jesus has commanded them.
The Friday morning prayer meeting has been solidly attended throughout the winter into the spring. It has been a source of real encouragement to see the Lord reward people’s commitment to come before him and pray, as the sense of the presence of Christ among us as we have come before him has been more evident as the year has progressed. Though Friday mornings are by no means a requirement, we would love to see more coming to experience the joy of God’s presence among us as we gather to pray at that time.
So, that’s a look back combined with a look forwards. We can look back with gratitude knowing that God was directing our steps, and forwards with confidence knowing he is leading us on to the next green pasture.
For anyone looking to visit TCF, we can’t wait to welcome you on a Sunday at 11:00am for our Family Service!