Well, we’re finally here. It’s been a fair few months since I came to St George’s on a snowy January Sunday to experience the 18:30 Service ahead of my interview. It’s safe to say the goalposts may have moved a little since then, through what I half-jokingly refer to as a ‘divine stitch-up’ that sees Jonathan moving on shortly after my arrival. This fact leaves me feeling sufficiently daunted, until I’m reminded that if God is who he says he is then he probably knows what he’s doing.
Anya and I moved to Leeds at the end of July along with our two boys, Micah (aged 2) and Nathan (now almost 6 months). I do miss my last church, who were hugely supportive of us, but as a born and bred Yorkshireman who’s spent the last 25 years in ‘exile’, it feels great to back on the right side of the Pennines! Since then we’ve had some fun exploring our new hometown- Tropical World, Ilkley Lido and what feels like every playground in the city (not to mention more Ikea trips than anyone should have to make in one month), but I’m really excited to actually begin the job as an Associate Rector here at St George’s, in which I’ll be mostly looking after the 18:30 congregation.
What makes the role so exciting is that this church feels rich with opportunity. I’ve already met so many amazing people both on the staff team and in the congregations, and I know there are so many more to meet. I’ve also found that when I get talking to people around here who don’t know Jesus, they do know St George’s. What’s more, they’re actually interested in hearing about what goes on here. Most of those I get chatting to (usually other parents that I meet in the park with Micah- he’s a great evangelism tool!) are pleasantly surprised when I describe the church to them. This feels like a church that it’s easy to invite people along to. That fact was abundantly evident in the recent baptism service at 18:30. The place was full of visitors, many of whom don’t know Jesus but are beginning to get intrigued about him.
I’m hoping for much more of that. From Sunday 18th September we launch a new series at 18:30 entitled ‘Just Jesus’. The idea is pretty simple... We’re just going to talk about Jesus- why he’s amazing and more than we might expect him to be. For a couple of months we’ll look at how Jesus treated people and why he was such a challenge to the cultural norms of his day. The aim is to shake up the naive ‘churchy’ Christian in all of us, but also intrigue and engage those ‘not-yet-Christians’ and de-churched returners who are invited along or find themselves checking out church in this first term of the academic year. With Alpha also on the agenda, a new batch of students that we hope to be a home for and Contemporary Carols just around the corner, this simplest of ideas feels like the best move. Let’s just focus on Jesus, shall we? I, for one, can’t wait.