What God taught me about myself on sabbatical

  • by Kelly Owen
  • 02 Oct, 2017

A summary from Rev. Malc on his sabbatical over summer

Firstly, and importantly, my sabbatical allowed me the time to slow down to be with God.

Being away from the day-to-day parish ministry enabled me to see how active I had been ‘doing things for God’. 

Much of this I hope was good work!

And I like ‘doing’. 

But a major thing I heard God say through prayer, scripture and other people, was… “slow down and let me sort out your inner life”. 

I suppose I was giving 80% of my time to ‘doing’, and 20% maximum to just ‘being’. I know that I can function like that. I have loads of energy and enthusiasm… but it’s hard to sustain, and it might not bring about lasting fruit.

Time away on retreat and reading books such as the often recommended 'Emotionally Healthy Leader' have helped me see how important it is that my ‘being’ (my inner life) is more important than, and precedes, my ‘doing’ (my outer life).

“God opened my eyes to see that I was a human being, not a human doing.”

When we devote ourselves to reaching the world for Christ while ignoring our own emotional and spiritual health, our leadership is short-sighted at best” .

The Emotionally Healthy Leader: Peter Scazzero

Both the ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ Malc sought God’s loving transformation, but getting the order right became an important thing for me whilst on sabbatical.

Through reading and prayer and fellowship, I heard how God wants a loving, deepening relationship with me first … before any ‘ministry’ I may be gifted in. It was as though I was hearing that the best I can offer to people in life and ministry is the quality of my own relationship with God, and the quality of my relationship with myself.

That might sound a bit strange. But space and time to slow down with God did involve God going down into the basement and back rooms of my life! What we found there we examined together. Understanding how and why we react to circumstances and people around us the way we do is connected to our emotional health. 

For me, bringing things into the open before God - my fears and worries - wasn’t always easy. But it was healing and liberating. I felt so much more of God’s amazing love for me personally. And I felt stronger because of it. Sorting out inner emotions and issues can lead to growing up spiritually.

And so I felt sabbatical allowed me the space to do this. 

I was challenged and blessed. 

I feel a greater sense of wanting to honour and please God. I want to take the time in the day-to-day to be transformed by the very truths I look to share with others. As someone has said, “Your being with God (or lack of being with God) will trump, eventually, your doing for God every time. We cannot give what we do not possess. We cannot help but give what we do possess."

Since returning to St Michael's, I have felt a deeper sense of God’s grip on my life, and an inner peace and sense of his presence that I hope will remain! I feel more able to listen to God and pace myself and my work to His leading and plans!

I came back to life and ministry in Bishop’s Cleeve with much joy and love for our church family here. I look forward to working with others to help transform lives through Christ’s love.


St Michael's Church Blog

by Kelly Owen 02 Oct, 2017

Firstly, and importantly, my sabbatical allowed me the time to slow down to be with God.

Being away from the day-to-day parish ministry enabled me to see how active I had been ‘doing things for God’. 

Much of this I hope was good work!

And I like ‘doing’. 

But a major thing I heard God say through prayer, scripture and other people, was… “slow down and let me sort out your inner life”. 

I suppose I was giving 80% of my time to ‘doing’, and 20% maximum to just ‘being’. I know that I can function like that. I have loads of energy and enthusiasm… but it’s hard to sustain, and it might not bring about lasting fruit.

Time away on retreat and reading books such as the often recommended 'Emotionally Healthy Leader' have helped me see how important it is that my ‘being’ (my inner life) is more important than, and precedes, my ‘doing’ (my outer life).

by Kelly Owen 18 Aug, 2017

Earlier this month, several members of our church community attended the New Wine United 2017 conference. For those of you who don't know, New Wine is a movement of churches working together to change the nation through a network of church leaders, summer conferences, training events and resources. Each year, a group of us pitch up their tents alongside thousands of other Christians for a week of worship and spiritual development.

Here, they've captured some of their highlights of the week:

by Kelly Owen 18 Jul, 2017
I’ve recently arrived in Vancouver, Canada, for a very special part of my sabbatical time, but I wanted to give you a taste of what I’ve been up to over the last few weeks… apart from some really good reading and reflecting!

I’ve walked with very good friends on the Dorset coast which included the amazing Durdle Dor.
by Kelly Owen 24 Jun, 2017
Wednesday, 14 June saw around 50 people attend a presentation by our Mission group - the 'Shyogwe Six' - recounting their recent fortnight trip to Shyogwe in Rwanda. The 'Six' consisted of: Peter Muir and his wife, Jill - Trustees; Sarah Parkes and her son, Joseph; and Maria Line and her daughter, Fran - all members of St Michael's.

The evening was opened by Peter, Treasurer of the David Dale Shyogwe Trust, the charity set up to fund initiatives in the area. Peter gave us an interesting insight into the history of Rwanda, particularly since the 1994 Genocide that saw up to 1 million Tutsis and Hutus killed over a 10-week period of slaughter. As a result, the country's population is made up of mostly young people - with those age 15 and under making up 43% of the11.3 millionpopulation. This is important to know because it has impacted the futures of the people who, without elders, have lost basic knowledge and skills such as farming, building and even parenting. So much of what we take for granted is desperately needed by the Rwandan people, yet they are a hopeful community that sings and worships and strives for a better future.
by Kelly Owen 14 Jun, 2017
Sunday 11 June 2017 saw the annual Bishop's Cleeve Street Fair here in our wonderful village.

Every year, we invite people to enter teddy bears (or any stuffed toy!) into the Teddy Bear Parachute Jump. Designs are left to the entrants, and we have two prizes: for best jump and best design. At just £1 per entry, we saw the launch of a whopping 74 teddies off the church roof. The money raised goes straight to the Bishop's Cleeve Street Fair to support the funding of next year's event.

We were blessed with a beautifully warm afternoon with a gusty breeze, which seemed to go in most of the jumpers' favours! It took nearly an hour to launch all 74 bears off the roof, each given a fantastic introduction by our compare, Robey. Most bears made it to the ground without mishap, although poor 'Super Penguin' has yet to be retrieved from a tall tree in a garden behind the church!
by Kelly Owen 07 Jun, 2017
Representatives of the North Cotswold Foodbank, Philip Cule and Rhian Morgan, attended The Trussell Trust National Conference Update held in Birmingham on 17 May 2017.

The keynote address was from John Kirkby, founder of Christians Against Poverty (CAP)  who talked about the growth in CAP services since it was founded. There are now 20,000 people a year seeking help and wanting to be released from a life of debt, unemployment, addiction, hunger and poverty.

John said, “Be generous in spirit as the world gets larger. Charity yields a high return. Don’t just sit there watching the wind. Do your own work helping others. Don’t stare at the clouds; get on with your life.”

You never know...

Just maybe...

The next...

...will become a life changer.

To read more about the conference update, please see the CAP blog post - CAP joins forces with The Trussell Trust to help more people in crisis

Please see our Mission Partners page to find out more about our mission work at the North Cotswold Foodbank and how you can get involved.

We love to hear your news!
Do you have some news or information you'd like to share with us on the blog? Email us with your idea or text and we'll help you pull it together. 

by Kelly Owen 18 May, 2017
Thy Kingdom Come is a global prayer movement, which invites Christians around the world to pray between Ascension and Pentecost for more people to come to know Jesus Christ. What started out as an invitation from the Archbishops’ of Canterbury and York in 2016 to the Church of England has grown into an international and ecumenical call to prayer.

The hope is that:
  • people will commit to pray with God’s worldwide family - as a church, individually or as a family; 
  • churches will hold prayer events, such as 24-7 prayer, prayer stations and prayer walks, across the UK and in other parts of the world; 
  • people will be empowered through prayer by the Holy Spirit, finding new confidence to be witnesses for Jesus Christ.

What are we doing at St Michael's?
On Saturday, 27 May, we are holding a group Prayer Walk. This is open to everyone, young or old. Meet us at St Michael's Church for 9am.

On Saturday, 3 June, we are holding a Day of Prayer in St Michael's Church, from 9am to 3.30pm. Again, this is open to everyone.

How can I get involved?

  1. Prayer walk near you - There is a sign-up sheet in St Michael's listing all the roads in Bishop's Cleeve and Woodmancote. Simply put your name next to your own road or any that you'd like to pray for. Then, each day, walk along the road and pray for the people living and working there, or you can pray from home if you are unable to get out. Please d ownload the advice and tips sheet on how to get the best out of your walk or view them on the website .
  2. Pray for 5 friends or family members to know God .
  3. Pray through the Daily Reflections 'Nine Days of Prayer' Booklet.
  4. Pray with your Small Group .
  5. Pray in your youth group (Wha+ever).
  6. Pop in to church and pray (see ChurchWatch for opening times - w/c 29th May is Week 1 rota).
  7. Pray at home, individually or as a family.  There are lots of excellent resources for praying as an individual or family  on the Thy Kingdom Come website.

What to pray
You can pray however you wish, but here's an example to help you:

Loving Father,
In the face of Jesus Christ
your light and glory have blazed forth.
Send your Holy Spirit that I may share with my friends [N. & N.]
the life of your Son and your love for all.
Strengthen me as a witness to that love
as I pledge to pray for them,
for your name’s sake. Amen.

Share your prayer #Pledge2Pray
You can use social media to 'Pray It – Picture It – Post It' on the Thy Kingdom Come website prayer wall. If you want to get your images ready in advance, here's a list of the themes. Remember to use images and phrases that resonate with #Pledge2Pray and:

  • 25 May #ToJesus
  • 26 May #Praise
  • 27 May #Thanks
  • 28 May #Sorry
  • 29 May #Offer
  • 30 May #PrayFor
  • 31 May #Help
  • 1 June #Adore
  • 2 June #Celebrate
  • 3 June #Silence
  • 4 June #ThyKingdomCome
Just use #Pledge2Pray and a hashtag for the prayer of the day. Make sure there is a space between the tags, for example: #Pledge2Pray #ToJesus.

On Facebook, go to the ThyKingdomCome page and post to the Timeline using #Pledge2Pray and the tag of the day, for example #Pledge2Pray #Celebrate. Make sure your post is set to 'public', or we can’t see it!

Visit: www.instagram.com/Pledge2Pray
Visit: www.twitter.com/thykingdom_come
Visit: www.facebook.com/ThyKingdomComeUK

Please email our Prayer Chain if you would like more information, see our page on Praying Together , or visit  thykingdomcom.global
by Kelly Owen 12 May, 2017
Born Bad by James Boyce
Are we born bad or are does our culture make us the way we are? A great book tracing the history of the doctrine of 'original sin' from its originator St Augustine all through the reformation until such people as Richard Dawkins.

Jesus Freak by Sara Miles
If you really want to be challenged and take stock about how lucky we are to live where we do then read this book. For those involved with Foodbanks this book will inspire you. Those who feel comfortable about their faith, this book will unsettle you.

Listening to God by Joyce Huggett
I was once told that God has given us two ears and one mouth and we should use them in that proportion. Do you find yourself talking and praying to God and not letting him get a word in edgeways? Well, this great book is often considered to be a Christian classic as it was written over thirty years ago, but still is as relevant for us today. It is full of wise and helpful suggestions of how we can spend time listening to God and discovering his will for us. Prayer should be always a two-way conversation.

Dethroning Mammon by Justin Welby
I often tell people at this time of year not to give up something for Lent, but take something on. May I suggest you read this year's Archbishop's of Canterbury Lent Book 'Dethroning Mammon.' It has really helped me in looking how money plays a significant role in our lives and the need to put it in a Christian perspective. Money should be seen as a gift to us to use for the benefit of bestowing grace upon others or as Justin Welby puts it 'Divine Economics' This book will challenge you and I hope will bless you this Lenten time.

Is a Radical Church Possible by Adrian Akler
If you are prepared to be really challenged about your faith read this book. You'll find yourself asking some real deep questions about where you are in your journey with God. You'll often disagree with what is written, but it will make you stop and reassess what you really believe. So if you like being provoked and made uncomfortable read this book. I be interested to know how you got on.

Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell
a great little book which takes a different look at what it means to be faithful to Jesus. it is challenging, thought provoking and will change the way in which are to live.

The Invisible Church by Steve Aisthorpe
A fascinating read, for those dark winter evening, that will make some very uncomfortable and be reassuring to others.

Hidden Christmas by Timothy Keller
For those who believe that 'Christmas is for children' or find that this festive season has lost it's meaning should read this short book.

Not a Fan by Kyle Idleman
This book asks the question are you a follower of Jesus or are you just a fan? Where do you see yourself?

The Insanity of God by Nik Ripkin
I would recommend to anyone who is currently following the preaching series on 1 Peter. It is full of encouragement to those who suffer for their faith. For those who are really going through a difficult time remember these words from a recent J John tweet, 'You can never kill a Christian, only change their address.'

If you have read any good books lately do share them with us in the Comments below.


by Kelly Owen 05 May, 2017
Welcome to our new website!

Our aim has been to create a website that is not only easy to use and provides useful information about our church and activities, but also reflects our values and priorities as we work to transform lives through Christ's love.

If you're new to the area and want to find out more about us, the Our Life Together section will give you a good idea of who we are. Our Service Times page gives details of the different services we offer.

We have a dedicated section for children and families , which covers the main groups and activities we provide for children, young people and families - such as our Sunday groups, holiday club and our popular baby and toddler group.

We, of course, have provided all you need to know about holding a  baptism, wedding or funeral  at St Michael's and how to contact us.

The blog is a new feature that will enable us to share what we're doing, along with our newsletter which you can also view and download from the News page. 

As well as our website and blog, we also have a Facebook page where we regularly share church news. Our Facebook group  is also available to anyone looking for a more private space to share discussion and news with other church members.

Finally, we'd like to offer our sincere thanks to the team at Cotswold Web Services for the most generous donation of website, and to Kelly at Ultimate Proof  for her time in pulling the content together. The website has been created at no cost to the church and we hope you'll find it a useful resource.

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