Repeat of the Introduction to Healing Prayer Ministry Seminar

Seminar Day:

Introduction to Healing Prayer Ministry

In response to the interest generated by Dr. Charles Kraft’s wonderful teaching at Chestnut Hill in 2013, a seminar day was arranged as an Introduction to Prayer Ministry at Chestnut Hill Conference Lodge last August.

Because numerous people could not attend that seminar, it is being repeated on 29th November 2014, same time, same venue, same price – Chestnut Hill Conference Lodge, St James Avenue, Kallista (Mel 75 K2), on Saturday 29th November 2014, from 9:30am to 4:30pm.

The day is for anyone you know who might like to find about healing prayer ministry, with a sampler of various keys for prayer ministry and healing, including practical demonstrations. Discover where prayer ministry fits in with Jesus’ command to all his followers to go into all the world and make disciples. Learn how prayer ministry is changing to fit with the new things that Jesus is doing today.

The trainers will be Malcolm and Diana Dow of Beth Tephillah Ministry Centre in Williamstown.

The cost of $50.00 includes lunch, morning and afternoon tea and notes. Come and enjoy Rob and Cathy Ellis’ wonderful hospitality.

Go to the HPMN Events Page for more details.

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A way forward

Last Sunday we met as a church to discuss how we should move forward. It was decided that while our Friday night meetings serve a useful purpose, they do not meet the needs of all involved. This is because there are two different groups of people – the church members and the non-believers. Each group is there for different purposes.

The non-believers (or not-yet-believers) mostly seem to come for some companionship, the meal, and something to occupy some of their too abundant free time. Note, this is not a description of all non-believers who attend church meetings, just the majority who come to our Friday night meeting. Those who live alone enjoy belonging to a welcoming community.

The believers and church members, while enjoying the company and the meal, want to be able to more intentionally worship God, learn from his word, receive and give grace gifts to each other, and be encouraged and trained in their walk as disciples.

It is very difficult, in a fairly small group, to meet these two different sets of objectives effectively. The meeting easily becomes dominated by meeting the needs of the non-believers who don’t appreciate the other things that we also hold important.

It would not be Christlike to tell the not-yet-believers to go away again, nor to ignore their needs. As is common with older people living alone without Jesus, they are not used to group interaction and sometimes find it hard to engage with discussion, often chatting while others are speaking. Interestingly, some of them are also quite good evangelists, bringing their friends along because, “they are quite a nice bunch of people, and the meal is free too.” So, the group tends to expand, but the problem only gets bigger. I should mention, as well, that the meal is intended to be BYO to share, but that has rarely sunk in as a community building exercise.

Some churches would welcome such a problem as an opportunity to get more people in the pews to hear the gospel, but we don’t see that as an effective way to build either the church or the Kingdom. The Willow Creek research has shown that real disciples are rarely formed through the attractional model.

What we have decided to do is to have two kinds of meetings. The first will be the existing ‘Friday Night Fellowship’, which will be open to all and similar to what we do now on Fridays. The focus will be entirely on those who are yet to encounter Jesus in a real way, loving them and encouraging them by our lives to consider and encounter Jesus. It will be an opportunity for some of the believers to practice ministry and mission.

The other meeting will be our ‘Family Gatherings’, where the believers meet at another time (and/or place) to worship, minister to each other, and learn to be followers of Jesus together. These meetings are the gathering of a church. Joining one of these churches will be by invitation from the members of that church family.

At present, if someone wishes to ‘come to’ Williamstown Baptist Church, they could just turn up at wherever the church meets at the right time and join in. We often have people contact us after finding us on the Internet, coming to us for counselling or prayer ministry, or hearing about us from someone else. Their questions are usually along the lines of: “We’re interested in coming to your church on Sunday – where and at what time do you meet?” “Do you have a youth club or a Sunday school?” “Who is your senior pastor, and what denomination are you?” This has sometimes involved us in lengthy explanations that we meet on Friday night, not Sunday, that we no longer have a traditional church building, that our meetings are always around food, that they are always informal, and that the proceedings could be somewhat chaotic because of the people who are there. Surprisingly, we sometimes don’t see or hear from them again.

This is without going into other explanations about why we think ‘going to church’ is a bizarre concept, and that separating people by age and/or sex is rarely a natural thing to do except in special circumstances. Or that we don’t agree with hierarchical offices in the church, and while we are part of a denomination, and appreciate that membership, we do not place that at the centre of our purpose for existing as a church. The list could go on.

We have decided that when someone contacts us about joining or ‘attending’ our church, then ideally the person they contact should try to meet with them, perhaps over coffee, and talk with them about what they are seeking. They should listen to the Holy Spirit for guidance about how to respond to the person. If it seems right then they might take several approaches, depending on where the person is in relation to Jesus and what they want:

  • They might tell them they are welcome to come to a Friday Night Fellowship for a meal and some company.
  • They might invite them to Beth Tephillah for a meal and seminar on being a follower of Jesus and the nature of simple churches and simple church networks. These seminars will be arranged at short notice when there are a few people interested, and as a refresher and opportunity for discipleship training for those church members who also attend.
  • After explaining about our Family Gatherings, they might invite the person to have a meal with them and one or two others from the church. At this meal they would ‘be’ church together, and explore either their joining of one of the existing simple churches, or continuing on as a new simple church with them as a part of it.

In all cases an important and immediate goal is to either become a friend for the person, or if that is not appropriate, introduce them to someone who can become a friend for them. We must keep in mind that such contacts are not accidental, and should not be allowed to slip away. But sensitivity to both the Holy Spirit and to the person’s situation is paramount. The aim is not to ‘evangelise’ them, nor is it to get them to join a church. Rather it is to love them, and try to build a relationship in which they can share our life and ask any questions they might have once they are able to trust us.

Another possiblity is to include them in a Life Transformation Group, to use Neil Cole’s terminology from his book Search & Rescue, or his latest version, Ordinary Hero: Becoming a Disciple Who Makes a Difference. We will look more at this option in a later post.

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This is the new Beth Tephillah website

The conversion of the Beth Tephillah website, using WordPress as a content management system is finally complete. Now the content itself needs to be edited and updated.

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Vale Jim and Mavis Dow

Jim and Mavis Dow have been synonymous with Williamstown Baptist since 1968. Their daughter, Pam, married Denis Merrett, the church organist,  in the old building in Cecil Street on 24th December 1966. Denis and Pam were youth leaders and Malcolm Dow succeeded them as youth leader as well as organist. He was secretary at one stage too, and since 1998 he and I have been pastors.

Mavis died on 20th January 2009, aged 88 years, and Jim on 23rd March 2010, aged 91 years. Jim had retired as church secretary in 1988 and they had enjoyed many trips through the Outback and around Australia. In 1990 they came out of retirement to live in the house we use for ministry and meating (Wolfgang Simson’s spelling of a meeting around food) now, “Beth Tephillah”. Friendships made at that time with our neighbours have grown and developed. Jim was the speaker at the monthly Sunday Singalong which began at Wintringham Hostel in January 1994 until his first cancer treatment in September 1998. 

Jim and Mavis Dow at 140th Anniversary

Jim and Mavis Dow at 140th Anniversary

Mavis and Jim were hosts of the Afternoon Teas held at “Beth Tephillah”. They celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary there in 2002. In October 2008 they together cut the cake to celebrate the 140th Anniversary since the beginning of Williamstown Baptist Church.

A tribute at Jim’s funeral quoted a message from the Rev Alan Marr, Director of Ministries of the Baptist Union of Victoria,

Jim was one of a kind. His faithfulness to God and the church were exemplary. He stuck to his calling as a leader in the church in very difficult times with grace and perseverance. I loved yarning with him about a vast range of topics. He will be greatly missed. Well done good and faithful servant.

Alan had written to Jim, commenting warmly about Mavis, and her faith and life and gentle witness through the years. Together they contributed so much to the church family.

The church has decided that gifts in memory of Jim and Mavis Dow will be received in recognition of their love of the Outback and the Yapa people.. They will be forwarded to Global Interaction (formerly the Australian Baptist Missionary Society) whose cross-cultural workers with the Warlpiri people of the Tanami Desert were supported by them in prayer and with finance for years.

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More about Ray’s journey

After many months of problems it is great to be able to post some news from Beth Tephillah.

In March 2009 we shared the great news that Ray had accepted Jesus. We had the great joy of witnessing his baptism at Beth Tephillah on 4th December. He and Heather had been adjusting to life in a nursing home together, which was not without its challenges. When speaking about Ray’s desire to be baptised, the Director of Nursing said, “Ray isn’t the same man who moved in here last year.” What a difference Jesus makes when he is invited to share our lives. Ray’s physical health was a daily challenge, but he participated each Friday with us, endearing himself to all.

Ray and Heather were able to join our Christmas dinner with another 10 friends. On the 10th January 2010, Ray died with the assurance that Jesus had accepted him. He had told the caring staff that he was going to be with Jesus.

As we sang at his baptism, and again at his funeral on 14th Jan, “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found; was blind, but now I see.” Heather continues to rejoice in the grace of God and the answer to her many prayers through the years.

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Beth Tephillah News has moved to WordPress

Because Blogger will no longer support FTP blogs from May 1st I have moved Beth Tephillah News to WordPress. This default theme will be replaced with a new one once it is developed.

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Tassie trip

We have just returned from a 9-day trip to Tasmania with Funtastic Christian Tours. A really well organised tour, taking in sights from Launceston to Freycinet National Park, Richmond, Bothwell, Mt Field National Park and Hobart. Kerry, the coach captain, drove well and entertained us with background to all the places along the routes we travelled, including some gravel roads through wonderfully green hills and valleys. We had a great lunch prepared by Geeveston Community Church and enjoyed singing in their picturesque church. There has been a worshipping community there since the 1880s. Travelling with a bunch of believers from a number of different traditions made for a stimulating time with lots of laughter. The accommodation was first rate and the the tour well paced so we returned home refreshed. Well done Kevin and Judy.

We completed the Baptist World Aid Australia five week 5050 program looking at poverty alleviation, and our role in bringing justice in the world. It was challenging, but also encouraging to know the value of our prayers and involvement.

God hears the cries of the poor and oppressed. We’re going to be looking at how we can hear God’s voice and live more closely to him in daily life. As followers of Jesus we want to learn to listen to the Father and obey him as Jesus did.

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News for rejoicing

Our KYB study of Psalms of mercy and hope reminds us, “It is good to praise the LORD” (Psalm 92:1) and, “declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples.” (Psalm 95:3). There are some good things happening at Beth Tephillah which are worth sharing:

When we returned to the KYB group in January, Heather did just that. She had been bursting to share with the ladies the good news, that just before Christmas her husband, Ray, had accepted Jesus. It encouraged other wives to continue praying that their husbands might too come to know the love of God for themselves.

We have been happy to welcome Ray to the gatherings on Friday evenings and he is obviously taking in a great deal as he makes comments and asks questions. This Friday we will celebrate his 78th birthday with him.

Speaking of birthdays, we celebrated 100 years on 31st January – not the church (we’re 140 now) – but Mal was 60 and Kev 40 in January, so they had a combined party. It was a bit of fun to start the year.

Last Friday night we were pleased to welcome Steve into membership. He’s endeared himself to us since he started coming last year. He’s already shown himself really good at washing dishes, and we’re discovering his other gifts as we get to know him better.

Before Easter Beth Tephillah is being used by one of the interchurch Lenten study groups. Great to be sharing with others of the Body of Christ in the Williamstown and Newport areas. Our facilitator is Peter Clark, the pastor from Newport Baptist Church. Peter’s also a CFA chaplain who has been involved in the aftermath of the Victorian bushfires. Many harrowing stories but also amazing deliverance, courage and generosity, showing that God is bringing good out of this most terrible devastation.

Having spent 2008 considering the glory of God and how we live to bring him glory and share his glory, we have begun to explore worship together on Friday nights. Using a Vineyard DVD to aid us we are wanting to learn how all of life becomes a spiritual act of worship (Romans 12:1).

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Christmas and New Year at Beth Tephillah

We had a great celebration on Christmas Day, worshipping the King. The birth of Jesus was both a beginning and an end. Then 13 gathered for Christmas lunch. We will continue on Friday evening with the usual 6 pm meal followed by some more carol singing and the Bible Study. Leading up to Christmas we had looked at the eight I AM statements Jesus made which are recorded in John’s Gospel. On Friday we will discuss I AM the Alpha and the Omega, Jesus’ statement in Revelation. When we gather on New Year’s Eve at 7.30 pm that theme will continue as we end one year and begin 2008. We’ll have a video, nibbles and share communion before watching fireworks at midnight on the television.

Friday evening gatherings will continue through January as normal, just as most other churches continue Sunday services even in holiday times.

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KYB in 2007

Twenty-five ladies from seventeen different churches spent a great year in the Know Your Bible study in Williamstown. For some, the first study of the year – The Holy Spirit in the Old and New Testament – brought them a deeper understanding of Who the Holy Spirit is, and how involved He was with the Father and the Son as the Godhead worked out our wonderful plan of salvation after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden. He is the means by which we live our lives as followers of Jesus, just as Jesus, the Man filled with the Spirit, was able to obey His Father and fulfill the plan.

Then we considered More of God’s Women – Rebekah, Rahab, Abigail, Jehosheba, Lydia and Priscilla. Each in their different way taught us, some how ‘not’ to behave! How important each individual is, responding to the challenges of life and trusting God. He has a place for us all in His kingdom’s work.

Our final study, October – December, was of Psalms 73-89, entitled Psalms of Faithfulness. Honest, raw, faithfilled declarations of real human beings struggling with situations of trouble, injustice and difficulties of life. Through it all the Faithful God who can be trusted was seen.

We’re on holiday now until 31st January 2008 when we begin our next study, Ephesians. See the KYB page for more details.

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