Message from our minister, April 2017

In my younger days I wondered what all the fuss was about the resurrection. On the one hand I wondered why anyone wouldn’t believe in it. On the other I wondered what the problem was even if they didn’t believe in the resurrection. I couldn’t see why it was that important. I felt that it would be of far more use to us to consider what Jesus had to teach us during his ministry rather than
deliberate on his death.

Nowadays I see it a bit differently. Death is the great equaliser – no matter where we are from, how old we are, how prosperous we are or how downtrodden we are – we know that we are going to die and that death is final – to come back to life after death is impossible. This is why the resurrection of Jesus is central to the Christian faith. When we are mindful of the sheer implausibility of the resurrection we begin to see its importance.

The author George Ladd is in no doubt of the importance of the resurrection, “If Jesus is dead, his entire message is negated. If he is dead, the hope of a triumphant coming of the heavenly Son of Man is obviously impossible. Furthermore, if Jesus is dead, his entire message about the Kingdom of God is a delusion.” You see it is the resurrection of Jesus that validates everything he said
and did. His works aren’t just to be seen as good works by a good man. He did those things not just as a man but as the Son of God.

And, no one other than Jesus has ever been recorded as being resurrected. There are other cases in the Bible of people being brought back to life, having died, of whom Lazarus is the most obvious example, but only Jesus was resurrected. As the author John Stott said, “Resurrection, is not the same as resuscitation. Those whom Jesus raised from death during his earthly ministry were resuscitated. They came back from death, resumed their former way of life, and then later died a second time. Resurrection, however, means the beginning of a new, a different, and immortal life.”

No human could come back from the dead so this event is something supernatural. There must be something different about Jesus. And, of course, the pages of scripture tell us exactly what that difference is – that Jesus is the Son of God. He is unique! For Christians the resurrection is final proof that Jesus is the Son of God.

Whatever your plans are this spring – I hope this will give you a lot of joy over the season. I wish you a very happy Easter.


Rev Andy Clark

Message from our minister, March 2017

As I write this I’ve just come home from the Friday morning prayer meeting. It is led by Ann, and is a great way for those of us that come to focus our thoughts on God, to enjoy spending time in his presence, and to share with Him and each other our thoughts, hopes and concerns. The pattern is Bible study, followed by the leader’s prayer, followed by open prayer. We are also blessed to have the monthly Saturday morning prayer meeting led by Andre – this meeting has a stronger emphasis on open prayer and happens on the last Saturday of the month.

Prayer meetings can be a bit intimidating for some who are not used to them. “What if there are awkward silences? What if my prayer isn’t as good as everybody else’s? What if I can’t think of anything to say? Perhaps I’d better leave those meetings to the people who are better at praying out loud than I am….” Actually the best way to answer such questions would be to come along a few times and see how you get on. Jesus offered different models of prayer – In Matthew 6 it is suggested that it is good to pray privately on your own – without making a show of it. But in Matthew 18 we are told that when two or three gather in Jesus’ name He is there with them. Prayer meetings, then, are not ‘instead of’ personal prayers; they are in addition to them. And actually they can be very useful if you are finding it difficult to pray on your own – something that many Christians will struggle with every now and then.

It’s also worth turning to God in prayer when big decisions have to be made – not to get out of making them (!) – but rather to share our plans with Him and seek his blessing on them. Just at the moment the church has a number of decisions to make. John and Joanna B. have done a wonderful job heading up our contemporary service – so how shall we develop the service now that they are moving on to pasture new? The parlour area of the church is where most of our building users enter and exit the building – so can we develop it to make it a more user friendly space? And the Circuit has asked each church to come up with a Mission Action Plan (which we are calling the 1% challenge – read on to learn more!) so this will also involve continued decision making.

Those attending the prayer meetings have already started praying about some of these things which is a great comfort to me. After all, the old proverb says, ‘Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.’ (Proverbs 19: 21) In all of our decision making, and in all the work we do as a church community we need to show God we are dependent on Him – not independent of Him! How do we do that? The prayer meeting is a good start…..


Rev Andy Clark

Message from our minister

There’s something about Mary

Mary is an old friend of mine. I describe her as an old friend, partly because I’ve known her since I was 10 years old – and partly because she is 50 years my senior! I met Mary at my local Methodist Church. She was an opinionated welsh lady with a nice line in sarcasm. After a Sunday morning service she would often come and check how I was – ask me my news and then make a joke at my expense! I used to appreciate these encounters and after a while I began to go and seek her out. If she was talking to one of the adults I would wait my turn, then tell her my news, she would make some sarcastic comments, I would laugh, then I would go and join the other lads and play football in the church hall.

18 years later I was being ordained in Scarborough – and Mary was one of the people who came to share the day with me! It was lovely to see her at my ordination service. The interesting thing was she wasn’t a minister, a preacher, or one of my Sunday school teachers, she was just a Christian lady who would take a couple of minutes each week to talk to me. Growing up, I heard a lot of talks in Church, and did a lot of learning exercises in Sunday school. It all helped to educate me but in truth I hardly remember any of it! I do, however, remember Mary, and others, who took an interest in me and helped to give me a picture of what a Christian is.

What do the young people in our churches think Christianity is? Is it “what the preacher was talking about?” Can they even remember what the preacher was talking about? If so will they still remember 3 months or 10 years down the line? What do our young people think Christianity is? Do they think Christianity is a list of do’s and don’ts? Do they see it as a Sunday morning routine? This may not be a compelling enough vision of Christianity to help them stick with the church through their turbulent teenage years and their early adulthood.

We hope and pray that for our young people Christianity will be an ever growing relationship with their Saviour! To help them they need to know others who are in a relationship with Jesus. They need to see Christians being Christians – they need to know and feel supported by Christian people. Parents and grandparents are often not enough. Other role models are needed! Sunday School teachers, youth leaders and ministers will be important but don’t underestimate the simple act of greeting a young person and asking them how they are doing! That’s what Mary did for me and I appreciated it more than she could have anticipated. Mary’s conversations helped me to feel part of a church community – rather than just a Sunday morning routine.

Obviously, when talking with young people it’s important to make use of safeguarding guidelines. If you’re not sure about these then get your minister or safeguarding officer to take you through them.

Did you attend church as a child? How do you remember the adults you encountered? How do you think children and young people in our churches today will remember us in 30 years’ time? The funny thing is that if someone asks one of our young people “What do you think Christianity is?” ………They might just think of you!

(For some really interesting thoughts on the church and young people try reading ‘Sticky Faith’ by Dr Kara E Powell and Dr Chap Clark, published by Zondervan)

Rev Andy Clark

A Message for our Minister

Hi everyone,

My name is Andy Clark, I’m 37 years old and I’ve recently been appointed as the new minister of Chessington Methodist Church. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for the wonderful welcome I have received among you over the last few weeks. Moving to a new area can be daunting but it has been made much easier by seeing so many friendly faces. I have learned a few names too, but it will take a while so please forgive me if I’m still getting yours wrong!

I was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, moved when I was 2 to Cheadle Hulme, not too far from Manchester (and became a Manchester United fan), and then moved to Nottingham where I spent my teenage years. Not having a glittering school career in Nottingham, I got a job as a shelf stacker working for the Co-op. It had never been my dream job, but it proved to be the best move I had ever made. I worked hard and enjoyed my work and, as a result, had a better Co-op career than school career.

Having moved away from the church as a teenager, it was while I was at Co-op that I really felt something was missing in my life. I tried numerous ways of filling this gap but all failed and I began to wonder if church was something to do with it. One Sunday night I went along to a local church. I was the last one in and the first one out and although nothing magic happened I felt led to go along again the next week.

Some of the songs, and some of the things the preacher said began to stay with me throughout the week when I went to work. This went on for a while until I was invited to join an Alpha course which was held in the home of a young couple who went to the church. The course talked about the potential of living in a relationship with God. I had always believed in God but somehow the course gave me the chance to think about faith in a way I hadn’t done before.

It was several weeks after the Alpha course, and after a sustained attempt to live what I thought was a Christian life, that I happened across a book by John Stott which spoke of nominal Christianity. It defined nominal Christianity as that which thinks Christianity is about ‘what I do.’ The writer went on to explain that at its core Christianity is not about what we do but it’s about what has been done for us. Over time I began to realise that no matter how hard I tried there was no way I would ever deserve the love that was freely offered to me by Christ. Accepting this, I accepted Christ as my saviour and gave my life to over to Him.

Since then, I have not so much walked gracefully with Christ, as I have stumbled, limped and crawled! But again and again I have come back to the forgiveness and loving presence of Christ, and again and again I have been thankful for the sense of purpose that comes from following Him.

I come to Chessington after studying at Cliff College and the Wesley Study Centre in Durham, and working as a student minister in Middlesbrough, before serving for 10 years in Birmingham. In my spare time I enjoy football, food (not leeks), and walks with my dog Max.

This is some of my story -I look forward to hearing some of yours!

Yours in Christ,

Rev Andy Clark