Preparations for coming Christmas are for most of us in full swing! Christmas, the celebration of Gods coming to us on the earth through Jesus. God couldn’t have made the meaning of ‘Immanuel, God with us’ any clearer then by sending Jesus to us.

In Redeemer, this month has been full of many opportunities to share the love of Jesus to people in the city. Moments where through serving and loving people we got to show Immanuel, God with us.

This happened when we went out on the streets and met someone we had never met before who started sharing about his life that was very hard at the moment. He was open for prayer but also needed medical care and some practical help with groceries to provide for him and his wife. Some of us are still connecting with him to help out as far as we can and for the last Sundays this person has been coming to the Sunday meetings and shared how he experiences God’s presence in the meetings.

Women have been coming together to meet in the refugee camp for creative activities and others were able to help out a family in the refugee camp who moved into their new house. The football group of men at the refugee camp are continuing to build friendships through their weekly football evenings and some of them share of their hardships as some of them face situations of needing to go back to the country they fled from.

The foodbank in The Hague provides for many families in The Hague who are weekly in need of food supplies as they don’t have sufficient to live from. As a church we had been blessed with a generous amount of money from the gift day that is partially used for our ‘Love The Hague’ ministry. We decided to set money apart to buy products for the foodbank and donated that to them to hand out before Christmas.

Last week we had our last time of cooking at the Salvation Army for 2017. The team had put a real effort into cooking a great meal and baking nice desserts to bless the people as the weather is so rough these days for those on the streets. One of the homeless man who helped us was actually a former chef who helped and instructed us amazingly.

Some others from Redeemer are involved at the charity Stichting De Haven. There Christmas was celebrated with people from many different churches, nations and backgrounds, including many women who work or have worked in the red-light districts of The Hague. Talking to many of them gave such evidence of ‘Immanuel, God with us’ in their lives. Women who sometimes still are fighting to live a different life but not giving up, others so outspoken about their trust in God for their lives.

Whether we meet with people on the streets, in the red-light districts, refugee camp or homeless shelters, we see people for whom Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, came to earth. To show the earth His love. And sometimes we get to see or be a little part of Jesus showing His love to those around us.

Christmas is around the corner! Our prayer is that the greatest celebration this Christmas will be that the city of The Hague and beyond will know that Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, has come, bringing good news to all.

incredible(?)

Redeemer is doing a mini preaching series called INCREDIBLE(?). Our hope and prayer as elders is that God uses this series to bring Gospel clarity to issues around sex, sexuality and relationships, while seeing God working his restoring and healing power in all of our lives’.

Here are the topics that we will be preaching into:

  • 23 April - Sex

  • 30 April - Gender & identity

  • 7 May - Marriage

  • 14 May - Singleness

  • 21 May - Dating

  • 28 May - Divorce & remarriage

We realise that not every subject will be directly applicable to everyone in the same way but we feel it important for all Christians to have a Biblical understanding of all of these things. These issues play a big role in our lives and/or in the lives of people around us.

Steve and Caz Alliston will be with Redeemer for the first weekend in May. They are a fantastic couple leading a great church in London. God has also used them to bless many others in the area of marriage, and sex in marriage.

On Saturday 6 May, we will host a morning for married couples looking to grow in the blessing of sexual intimacy in marriage. For more details and to sign up, click here.

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

Through 2017 we will be hosting some intentional outreach sessions to help us grow in sharing the love of Jesus with the city of Den Haag. The idea of these sessions is to grow in and share “faith, hope, and love.” 1 Corinthians 13 is a well known scripture for weddings. While this passage gives us an accurate description of true love, Paul is defining spiritual gifts and their key foundation of love. He says “if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” Spiritual gifts are for the building up and encouraging of the church, but we also see Jesus using prophecy in John 4 to display his love to the Woman of Samaria.

We want to invite you to join us for some Thursday evening and/or some Saturday morning outreach sessions through 2017. Using the foundations of “faith, hope and love” these sessions will involve a brief time of training and equipping, prayer and worship, then some outreach on the streets of Den Haag. During each session we’ll introduce a different evangelistic tool that people can use as they seek to share the love of Jesus with the people of Den Haag. We’ll always finish these sessions with a debrief, encouraging each other in our steps of faith, and praying for those we have met. We have given these intentional outreach sessions the name POTS, short for ‘Prayer On The Streets’.

Here is a the dates we’ll be meeting through 2017:

  • – March Thursday 23rd
  • – April Saturday 15th
  • – May Thursday 4th, Saturday 27th
  • – June Thursday 1st, Saturday 24th
  • – September Thursday 14th, Saturday 30th
  • – October Thursday 5th, Saturday 21st
  • – November Thursday 16th
  • – December Saturday 2nd, Thursday 14th

Here and some examples of some evangelistic outreach tools we may use:

  • – The Miracle Question “If God could do one miracle for you today, what would it be?”
  • – Healing On The Streets. Set up a prayer station and offer healing prayer for people
  • – Prophetic: 1) Treasure Hunting, asking God for clues on who to speak to. 2) Share simple prophetic encouragements
  • – Random acts of kindness. Look for simple ways to display God’s love by generous random acts of kindness
  • – Church invitation. Using invitation to invite people to key church events e.g. Sundays, Easter and Christmas

Please don’t hesitate to get in contact If you have any questions via Pete@redeemerchurch.nl

On Sunday 22 January we had the privilege of sending off a whole group of people to Delft. From next Sunday onwards Redeemer Delft will have their own meeting. It was a historic moment for our church. From Redeemer’s beginning we have treasured prophetic words about multiplication. For example the one about a strawberry plant, that out of The Hague shoots would go to places around and take root there. Or the one about a culture that will be transferable. And that is somehow happening now by the grace of God!

Standing on stage next to the Delft team, I felt a mix of emotions: excitement, thankfulness and a little mourning. People who have been part of the community in The Hague for short and longer seasons are moving on to Delft. This naturally means we will see each other less. But thank you for partnering in the gospel here, as Paul would say (in Philippians 1:5)! And what a joy that we will keep on partnering, but now across two cities.

For the coming Sundays the book of Nehemiah helps us to understand building church. Last Sunday, Chris highlighted the importance of prayer in hoping to see redemption coming to a place. Like Nehemiah, who heard about the broken state of Jerusalem and first sat down and prayed before he went (Nehemiah 1:4). Like us, who have prayed for multiplication for years and now see this beginning to happen. Let’s keep praying. This is only the start. Are you joining us in prayer for God to flourish and grow what he has started in The Hague and Delft (and Maastricht, Brussels, and Berlin)?

Another helpful picture from Nehemiah is the restoration of the ruined city wall. Being one church in multiple locations is like different groups of people working to repair the same wall but in different places. This means that we are part of God’s big redemption project (as every Christian) but are placed into particular communities to work that out locally. For Redeemer The Hague and Redeemer Delft we will be using the same building blocks to ‘repair the wall’ or build the church. How the actual wall will look like, here or there, might actually be somewhat different. This is because different people will put these stones together and adapt the order as it will be fitting for that city.

Why do we call it one church in multiple locations? We see a benefit in working closely together. Both in Delft and in The Hague, we will use building blocks like shared preaching, shared vision and values, shared relationship, shared oversight and shared organisational support. It is these shared building blocks that will make us one church in multiple locations, one church with multiple congregations. The shared oversight and support means that the team in Delft can give all energy and attention to people rather than organisation. They don’t have to reinvent all the administrative wheels. This will benefit mission!

With Redeemer Delft on the go and teams beginning to take shape for the other cities, you might wonder: what’s up for Redeemer The Hague? In The Hague, we just launched the new life group season. In a growing church one question is asked often: how do we grow deep as well as in numbers? Jesus’ example tells us that following him is about walking with God and with others. And actually, that it is essential to have people around you with whom you work out what it means to live by faith. We have asked you to join or recommit to one of our small groups (we call them life groups). Many new groups have started, some of which with a particular mission or theme, and generally the groups are smaller than before. We hope this makes it easier to get to know everyone in your group! Have you already signed up to one?

In the coming weeks, we will let you know about opportunities to join outreach events in the city. Next to that the Alpha Course has just started again with a well-attended launch party. And we would still love to start a second Sunday morning meeting in the Nieuwe Kerk at some point. As you see, there is much going on in Redeemer The Hague!

“Enlarge the place of your tent… lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes.” These words in Isaiah 54:2 provide a helpful picture for our current season. Since the start of Redeemer, we have been dreaming and praying for a gospel centred church not only in The Hague but also in other cities. After months, even years of talking about multiplication and preparing the ‘tent’ for more people to be added to the family, the moment has now arrived. Redeemer is multiplying! As of this month we will be one church in multiple locations. Redeemer Delft is starting at the end of January, a team is beginning to gather in Maastricht, and the first people are moving to Brussels.

What does it mean that we have lengthened our cords and strengthened our stakes? In these next few posts we will update you, introduce friends, share plans and also ask you something.

Brussels

Marinus and Eveline and kids are preparing to move to Brussels as soon as work and a house come together. This great couple has been part of our community for years. Marinus is part of our leadership team. And both have a desire to see Brussels impacted by the gospel. We have asked them to take the lead in gathering a team for this new endeavour of faith. Right from the start (read: as of this month) Josh and Archana will be first on the ground in Belgium’s capital and part of that starting team. Find out more and pray along for the Brussels church plant via Facebook.

Maastricht

On Redeemer’s Family Night Maarten was asked about his heart for a new church in Maastricht. He replied that Lise and himself would love to see a lively bible loving and Spirit filled church being established in that city. An international church for the Limburgers, the Dutch and all other nationalities in and around Maastricht. You are warmly invited to connect with Maarten and Lise as they now often visit Redeemer The Hague on Sundays. You are also welcome to come over to Maastricht for a visit, to consider joining the team and to pray for this new congregation.

Delft

Redeemer Delft will have its first Sunday meeting on 29 January 2017. About 50 people from Redeemer The Hague will make the jump to Delft to be part of the church there. Among them are Steven and Marjon, now in The Hague. They were asked: why moving on to Delft? Marjon shared from experience that they are not afraid to lose friends because of the change, as friendships continue, but are looking forward to meet new friends. Steven said that planting churches is God’s normal way of doing things. Seeing churches being established and the gospel at work in people’s lives is a real privilege.

Berlin

Berlin is the latest on the list of cities. Pete and Sarah have just moved from East Grinstead (UK) to The Hague. They are on their way to the capital of Germany, but will spend a year with us first. The plan for this year is to get to know Redeemer, serve the church, gather a team and prepare for the church plant. Pete shared about his dreams for Berlin: a church planting church reaching the German speaking world, full of the Holy Spirit and the bible. And taking the gospel to the world of music and performing arts, and reaching out to orphans, Sarah added. You will get to know them this year!

The Hague

We asked John, Craig and Rachel about The Hague. John explained that God has provided for him a way to be committed in The Hague: he just received a permanent contract! Also Rachel mentioned that she feels a sense of calling to this city. Craig added that it is great to be part of a church with a mission. Not just a mission to go to other places but also to reach the city. Whether it is to your neighbours, reaching out to the girls in the red-light district, or painting someone’s house. We are all on the same mission, whether it is in Brussels, Maastricht, Delft, Berlin or The Hague. Where are you going?

The next post will be about being one church in multiple locations.

As a church we are excited to start a new Alpha Course!

Throughout the whole world, the Alpha Course has helped many to really get to know Jesus and to start their journey of faith. Through this blog we want to challenge you to invite your friends and family along. 

The #1 reason people come on Alpha is because someone invited them.

The first big question is: Who should I invite?
There are two ways to think about this:
1. Who do I already know?
You have a network of relationships that generally fall into four categories: friends, family, neighbors and co-workers/classmates.  Ask yourself these questions:
Who do I know on a first name basis? Who are people with whom I share a similar interest or participate in similar activities (soccer team, etc..). Who seems open or likely to respond to an invitation? Who doesn’t appear to have a relationship with Christ or attend a church?
2. Making the most of opportunities
God is always at work in people’s lives and he often directs us to people He is drawing His way. If we are willing and prepared there are all kinds of opportunities to invite.
The second big question then is: How should I invite?

Some suggestions:
Make it PERSONAL
Unless it is impossible, invite people to go with you to the Launch Party. People are more likely to attend Alpha if they arrive there the first time with the person who invited them. For example – “John and I are going to a relaxed launch Party of one of our courses in Café Pavlov and we would love for you to come with us.”

Make it INTERESTING
Be enthusiastic and positive about the opportunity. Think about how you would go about inviting someone out to a movie or baseball game. For example – “We have this really interesting event happening next Sunday-evening that I really think you would enjoy.”

Make it RELEVANT
See if you can connect Alpha to a need or interest. For example – “You mentioned that you were open to believe in something, but you were not sure how to find out more. We have this course at our church that can help you talk more clearly about these issues.”

Make it EASY
Try to make it as easy as possible to attend. Just invite them to Alpha Launch Event. Make sure the invitation has a “no strings attached feel.” Put yourself on an equal level with them – “I am going to check this thing out, would you like to come with me?”

Anticipate the BARRIERS
Make sure you think through barriers that might cause them not to attend:
• Getting there – Invite them to ride with you.
• Don’t know anyone else – Offer to go with them.
• Different faith background – Alpha is for everyone no matter what your faith background may be.

 

So think about people in your environment who you would love to see to get to know Jesus. Start praying for them. And ask God to open your eyes so that you will see the opportunities you have to invite them! Let us pray that Alpha will be used for many to get to know and encounter Jesus in a new way! What an exciting thing  for you to play a role in this!
For more information about Alpha, go to our website: https://www.redeemerchurch.nl/alpha-course/

HALLOWEEN – A THOUGHTFUL CHRISTIAN RESPONSE

Halloween is a day that has been steadily gaining traction year by year in the Netherlands. With strong associations with the occult and witchcraft, thoughtful Christians obviously want to know how to approach this day. Should we accept and adopt it, reject it completely, or something in between?

This short document aims to give us as wise and considerate Christians and parents, some handles on how to approach Halloween with faith and a clear conscience.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF HALLOWEEN

Halloween traces its roots to the ancient Northern Hemisphere Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the end of summer and the start of winter, a season associated with death and the supernatural. The early church used the opportunity of an existing festival to set in place a feast day that would compete with the pagan festival. ‘All Saints Day’ or ‘Old Hallows Eve’, was set up as a day to celebrate all the saints and also is the place where ‘Halloween’ borrows its name. ‘All Saints Day’ was celebrated through the centuries by various Christian denominations, but is no longer regarded as a direct counter to Halloween.

Today, the general public usually mark Halloween on the 31st of October by dressing up and “trick or treating”, often with a ‘spooky’ vibe. At a darker level, modern-day witches and wizards still attach significance to the day and hold certain Satanic rituals. So undoubtedly, Halloween has association with darkness, evil and the occult.

In the Netherlands, St Martin’s Day on the 11th of November is celebrated in a similar way and might have more traction in some areas than actual Halloween. Kids wear masks and go from door to door singing for candy, but rarely dress up. The same principles discussed below apply in helping us to wisely engaging with this day as well.

THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE OPTIONS

Like with most aspects of culture, Christians have three options: receive, reject, or redeem the practice of Halloween. We want to engage with Halloween in a way that is faith building and with a clear conscience before God. Although we suggest a particular option as more preferable, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you in all wisdom as you seek how best to apply the gospel to yourself and your family. Following are the 3 options:

Option 1: Receive

Christians choosing to receive Halloween lock, stock and barrel, might be in danger of being lazy or thoughtless. Surely a festival with such overt pagan origins and connotations cannot be embraced without at least some careful thinking?

Option 2: Reject

Some Christians reject Halloween completely in view of its pagan origins, or because in their view dressing up as evil creatures (e.g. ghosts & goblins) is an unacceptable behaviour for Christians. This is a respectable position, especially if it formed out of careful and prayerful thought. Efforts will need to be made for parents to explain their reasons in a compelling way to their children, and be on the lookout not to develop a non-missional, “bomb-shelter”, us-and-them, attitude to friends and neighbours.

Option 3: Redeem

By “redeem” we mean to thoughtfully engage with something that is corrupt and use it for good. This is the option that we would advise, for the following reasons:

  1. Most things in this world are tainted with evil in some way, and we would have a pretty isolated existence if we avoided anything or anyone that is not 100% good and godly! The default option for us is to try to redeem and leverage most things in life for the advance of the gospel. For example, money, sex or alcohol are often leveraged for evil but our response is to redeem rather than abstain. Governments and education systems can be seriously flawed, even evil, yet we engage where we can to see godly influence.
  1. The best thing about this festival is that it is some kind of acknowledgement of the spiritual realm. This provides a great opportunity for conversation about spiritual things with friends and neighbours. Some might express fear, others interest, others might say it is “all nonsense” but whatever they say, you don’t have many better chances to talk about spiritual things with them! And you can so easily start a conversation around spiritual issues during Halloween. You can say something like, “So, what do you make of all this spooky stuff?”
  1. There are great opportunity for mission by engaging thoughtfully with Halloween. Christians in the “reject” camp might argue that the most powerful Gospel message is sent to our friends and neighbours by “having nothing to do with this pagan festival” rather than participating in it. Whilst I have some sympathy for that position, a wholesale boycott of Halloween will usually be perceived as extreme, isolationist, and implying criticism of those that do participate. Remember, 99% of your neighbours and friends are not participating with any dark motive at all – for them it is just a bit of harmless fun. So, you boycotting it completely might be perceived as weird, but then if you make a big point of explaining why you are boycotting, unless masterfully done, you will probably come across as hyper-religious. Opportunities for mission include:
  • Be generous and hospitable to kids visiting your house for trick or treat.
  • Join in the neighbourhood preparations where you can to get to know your neighbours better.
  • In terms of your kids dressing up, you can help them to have fun, look cool and wisely dress up for the occasion, but steer clear of overtly sinister images.
  • By being in the mix with your friends and neighbours, you will definitely have opportunities to start a spiritual conversation. (See Point 2 above). We have people saying to us, “But you are a pastor/pastor’s kids, why are you involved with Halloween?” What an opening to respond! We usually say something like, “Yeah, well we know better than anyone that the spiritual realm is very real, but with God on the inside, it is pretty hard to worry about demons….” And they ask what you mean, and a conversation builds.
  1. With your kids celebrate the triumph of Christ over Satan and his demons. They will be especially alert to the supernatural around Halloween so use their openness to talk to them about how Jesus defeated Satan at the cross, and how Satan is losing the battle, and how Christ protects us from the Devil’s schemes. Do Ephesians Chapter 6 as a family devotion. Remember, if as parents you go on a big anti-Halloween rant then be very careful that your kids don’t pick up that you are saying that the Devil is more powerful than Jesus is. Without getting into an inappropriate lack of respect for the devil, there is sometimes a place to laugh at him, certainly don’t give him more credit than he is due! Perhaps instead of thinking we win the battle in this case by going into hiding, perhaps we can affirm with Martin Luther that, “the best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn.”

Conclusion

Halloween doesn’t have to be a time of hiding away from the world; it can be the perfect opportunity to get in there and make a real difference in the lives of people around you.