This year we decided to do things a bit differently and on the 5th Sunday of the month (where there is one) we are holding cafe-style church. This will mean that rather than sitting in rows of seats facing the front, we will set out tables and chairs for you to sit around in small groups, having time to drink your coffee, share and pray together throughout the meeting, creating space for us to engage with God in different ways.
Tell me more
The last Sunday in April was the first of our new cafe-style meetings. ‘Grace’ has been the theme of our teaching over a few months, and that week we looked at ‘The grace of hearing from God’.
Perhaps you have prayed to God – asking for help in a particular situation, or giving thanks for something specific. But have you ever heard from God, speaking to you personally? We believe that God delights in speaking to us, his children, and that morning Gill Visser shared some ways we can learn to hear God’s voice.
Gill shared a little bit from the front and then got us talking in our tables.
How do we hear from God?
It might be a still small voice in our minds, an impression on our heart, or a clear thunderbolt revelation. It might be none of those things. God has made us individuals and so we all hear from him in different ways.
As we ask him questions
In January each person in Grace Vineyard asked God to give them a word for the year. And then we waited and listened to him as he gave us each ‘my one word’ for the year. A word for us to meditate on, and for the Holy Spirit to change us through.
As we fast and pray
At the end of August Grace Vineyard felt called to fast and pray for two weeks – meeting together daily and listening to what the Lord wanted to say to us as a church. God spoke clearly to the church as we intentionally sought him and as a result of this renewed closeness to him we saw a gear change in some of the things within the church.
Through our dreams
At the start of the year, someone in another Vineyard church elsewhere in the country had been spending time in prayer for various churches within the Vineyard movement. He had a dream from God specially for Grace Vineyard Purley. We’ve weighed the word and believe it is from God. Through the dream, God encouraged us to focus on our spiritual gifts and how we are using them to serve others. Through the dream God also warned us of attacks of the enemy and the need to battle in prayer.
As we get to know God personally
Hearing from God is about building our personal relationship with our creator. True friends enjoy each others company and share life together. They do not always seek advice or help. So we need to build an easy, natural relationship with Jesus as our friend and constant companion – not as an ATM machine or a crystal ball! As we get to know him better we learn to hear his voice:
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me…My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:14; 27-28)
We are meant to live in ongoing conversation with God through the Scriptures. If God spoke to his people then, he will speak that clearly to us today too, if we have the grace to listen to him.
Each table had a different scripture of God (Father, Son or Holy Spirit) speaking to someone. As we read them we were asked to put ourselves in the place of the person and to imagine what that must have been like. Then we were to think what would it be like if it really was us that he spoke those words to. We shared our thoughts with group.
God’s lavish love
God wants us to hear his voice and he wants to hear ours talking back, because he loves us so much and wants to be part of our lives. He loves us so much that he sent his son to die for us, so we could be brought into a loving relationship with him. So much of our time is us spent trying to love him or feeling guilty that we’ve not done enough. But the most important thing is to know how much God loves us.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” (1 John 3:1)
Gill and Mark demonstrated how lavish God’s love for us is, by taking a cup (representing us) and pouring rice (representing God’s love) into us – as it keeps pouring it out, it doesn’t stop, it overflows. It is overwhelming, extravagant, lavish. He fills us to overflowing. But there’s more…and more…and more…and more…and more…and more…and it just keeps coming. His love is never ending!!
If you’ve never been to church before, these would be great sessions for you to come along to and see what it’s all about. The next one will be Sunday 29th July.