Archive for May, 2010

The end of an era

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

This was a week for thinking through the direction of the church for the next year. One important change that was decided was the continued push in the church planting efforts at Rovereto. After the summer break we will move from monthly services to fortnightly services. And then the following year, weekly services, which will mean a group (of the people from Rovereto, as well as some of those from Trento) detaching itself from the church at Trento, to be sent as missionaries to form the church at Rovereto. At the same time there will be further strengthening of the small group that meets at Rovereto, and further evangelistic activities. It is exciting to see this project go ahead. But I will no longer be a direct part of it. With Suzanne Bikker (the missionary who moved to Rovereto last summer) ready to take over the Bible studies, and others in the church committed to serving there, I am no longer needed. I do feel a bit of a loss, after investing about five years of ministry at Rovereto starting and leading the small group there. But it also gives me a great joy to me able to leave it. Leaving the group is what I have been working towards for these last five years. In fact, of the seven cell groups in the church, I will now have started and left four of them, and I am looking to leaving another next year.

This of course means I will have more time next year. Which has quickly been filled up. There has been a slight change in the direction of both the church and of me personally. The church is looking at setting up a series of courses, that cater for people in particular stages of the Christian life (examining Christianity, new Christians, starting to serve, mature Christians), as well as continuing the cell groups that are mixed. So I will be starting to run some of these courses, naturally along with somebody else each time that I will be training to do it next time. The other change is my desire to be not only doing ministry with groups, but also discipling individuals. There are a few people that I have thought of that would be good to meet regularly with, although since the biggest need of the church is to have more leaders for the multiplying groups I will probably concentrate on some possible future leaders. Of course, ending one ministry and starting two others does not work out mathematically, when I already have all my evenings busy. So I will have to actually see how it all works out in practice when these things start happening in September.

Today there was the end of year presentation by the Sunday School after the church service. That kept Pinuccia and I busy, and slightly stressed, for the last week (and more). But it went well, to show the rest of the church what happens when all these children leave the service each week. My class showed a video about the life of Saul (which we had studied this year) that we shot a couple of weeks ago, as they acted out the words to a song that I had written and they sang. It came out fairly well, too. There was also over €500 raised for a Christian school in India, mostly through the children donating some of their own toys, which were then sold. This is a great way of getting them to understand sacrificial giving, since they had to give up something of their own, rather than only raising money or relying on their parents to give them something to give.

After not having been able to listen to five church services in a row in the last four weeks (due to giving Sunday School lessons, preparing the video and another song for the presentation, leading the service or preaching), I am looking forward to having a holiday next Sunday and just sitting and listening. There is in fact the last day of Sunday School for the academic year, at which 8 new children have been invited, and who will start Sunday School next September. That was a very fertile period of 7 months! But I declared myself unavailable for that meeting. Since Daniele is one of the eight, I will even get to listen to the sermon without been distracted by having to try to keep Daniele amused the whole time.

On Sunday afternoon there are also a couple of other important events to pray for. The Young Adults have organised an evangelistic evening at Rovereto, and went to all the schools yesterday morning to hand out invitations. About the same time, the Saturday group for young families in the Valsugana valley is trying to organise an outing together with their friends – although it still has to be confirmed that people can come, it is hard for families with toddlers to be sure about what they will be able to do.

The end of the year, and preparing the next

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

This is the time of year when, between the better Spring weather that encourages outdoor activities and socialisation, and the approaching end of school and church year that encourages end of year activities, there are a lot of extra things to do. Last week Pinuccia was out twice for an end of year pizza, once with the other teachers in her class at the pre-school and once with the women in the church.

This week there is on Sunday the end of year presentation of the Sunday School, including raising funds for a school in India. This is creating quite a bit of work (and a bit of stress) for Pinuccia to organise it. On Saturday, there is a distribution at all the high schools of Rovereto of a magazine and invitation to an evangelistic event on the 6th. I will not be involved in that – not only was I not invited, I was told not to go as I am too old! But it has been great to see the group of young adults very much involved in the organisation and doing of this distribution and evangelistic evening. It is the first time that they as a group have done something like this for others and have served the church (in its vision for Rovereto). There is also this week for me a meeting tomorrow night with the elders to talk about the program for the cell groups after the summer break, and what will be my commitments and responsibilities, and then another meeting on Thursday for all the cell groups leaders to talk about these plans. So looking at next year as we start closing this year.

Two services, little listening

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Today there was the monthly service in the afternoon at Rovereto, which meant that I was at two services. They did go well, there were for example a lot of people at Rovereto, but personally I did not get much benefit out of them. In the morning at Trento, I was with my Sunday School class the whole time. Usually the Sunday School starts half an hour after the service begins, so there is at least a bit of time to listen and sing with everybody. But today I needed to work with the children the whole time, to prepare for the end of year presentation in two weeks’ time. I would say what we were doing, but it is a secret and people in the church are reading this, so I will have to wait before I reveal what we did! Anyway, we finished just in time to catch a couple of announcements at the end of the service. Then at Rovereto it was my turn to preach, which means not receiving much during the sermon (although I been encouraged and challenged whilst I was preparing it), and even during the service, before I preached, I was distracted by thinking about what I would say. Although at least the service after the sermon was more useful for me, and I could listen and sing a bit better.

This week, as with most weeks around this period, apart from the usual activities, will be busy for both Pinuccia and me getting things ready for the Sunday School presentation and for the children’s camp next month. There is quite a bit of preparation for both of them still, so pray for that.

Adult relationships again

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

Today there was one of my favourite regular activities: the monthly lunch after church. Although due to the fact that the church has grown too large to eat in our usual hall, it has not been very monthly lately. But now that the better weather has arrived, the church was able to go to its favourite park again to eat and talk together. The reality however for us has been that for the past three years, these lunches with the church have not been as enjoyable, since we have always had to look after Stefania and Daniele, keeping them amused and out of trouble. But now that they are older we can give them their food and they eat it by themselves, and then we can let them run wild in the park. Well, almost wild: they play with the older children who take good care of them. So Pinuccia and I were free to talk normally with the adults. Although we did lose a bit of time, since we had to have a planning meeting for the children’s camp next month whilst at the park.

With the Spring weather, we were thinking of being able to go out more often with the family, especially on Saturdays when in theory we are all free from church and school. But with the Spring weather, everyone else wants to organise things together as well. So it turns out that we have no free Saturdays for the rest of the academic year, ie all May and June. (And then in July we go to Sicily for a few weeks.) Although most of these events are things we can do with the family. So for example this Saturday there is a picnic and afternoon together for the group at Rovereto, which we also hope will be beneficial for the group there as they get to know each other better in a more relaxed atmosphere. So pray for that event as well.

Nothing unusual to blog home about

Sunday, May 2nd, 2010

Not every week there is something to blog home about it, and so this week was mostly the normal activities: Bible studies to prepare, attend and lead, family activities, meeting with friends, and a bit of programming for LaParola. Although there was a pleasant day yesterday, a public holiday, when we went 2.5 hours south of Trento, to a picnic for a church were a few of Pinuccia’s relatives go. We try to go and see them occasionally, and we had not been for a while, so that was a good opportunity to meet them again. Even if it did mean as much driving time as picnicing time.

There was one little highlight this evening however. Daniele is just starting to learn to pray, mostly incomprehensible prayers, but he prayed three times tonight, of which the last one was, “Thank you for sticky tape and the fridge” (since Pinuccia had just stuck one of his pictures to the fridge door).