My First Sunday in Dublin

 

 

 

Written by former City Church member Elizabeth Reilly

 

My first Sunday in Dublin, I put on my boots, zipped up my raincoat and walked northward across town, checking google maps every 2 minutes. As I tried to calm the butterflies in my stomach, I noticed the streets were empty. Was I the only one headed to church? As I approached St. Patrick’s cathedral, the church bells tolled and I watched the tourists snap pictures on the lawn. I may have taken a photo or two myself.

As I neared the doors of City Church, I remember feeling nervous and marveling at the fact that I had never had to “church shop” before. I had been following Jesus for a while and yet, I was anxious.

Would anyone talk to me? Would this church be the right fit? What would the music be like?

I hail from Tallahassee, smack dab in the middle of Florida’s panhandle. On that first Sunday, I was aching for my community. The glamour of life abroad had worn off and I was very aware of my need for friends.

Within 10 seconds of setting foot into City, I was welcomed, talked to and force fed biscuits. In short: I was made to feel at home. During the service, a committed member of the church sat next to me instead of her husband –perhaps, because she knew I desperately needed a buddy that day.

I had a list of churches to consider in Dublin. City just happened to be the first. Yet, after that day, I decided to stay. Not because it matched every requirement on my “must-have checklist” but because I knew community when I saw it. And because I had found there is beauty in the choosing.

By making a choice to commit early, I had more time to invest in the people of City. I spent 4 short months in Dublin and yet, by the end of my time, I felt I had truly built a life there. I had real life-long friends and a community that knew me. I had been challenged and comforted. I had laughed until I cried and cried until I laughed. I had a place that reminded me that sometimes the best self-care practice is other-centered love.

I have been challenged recently by the verses: “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ…each will have to bear his own load” (Galations 6:2-5). During a recent bible study, we compared these two words: burdens and loads, marveling at the juxtaposition of individual responsibility and a call to dependency. I am called to carry my own “load.” Simultaneously, there are burdens that I cannot carry alone. Burdens that feel so overwhelming I could suffocate from the weight of them. This is where the Kingdom of God comes in. My sisters and brothers in Christ’s household come to my aid through the grace of God in prayer, correction, encouragement and real, tangible support. It is the most beautiful thing!

I am an only child. I was raised by a single mother most of my life. My family is small by most standards. YET, when people ask me about my family, my brain fills with snapshots of my spiritual sisters and brothers –my older sister Sarah, my younger brother Benjamin. These are my family members. These are the people who come when I am in the hospital waiting room or need a ride to the airport at o’dark thirty…or who kick my butt when it needs kicking!

This is community. This is what makes God’s Kingdom different from any other earthy Kingdom –that all are welcome, no matter your blood lineage or status. So, I leave you with this: if you find yourself in a foreign land, do a little research, find a church and plug in. Make it a priority to meet with people outside of the church walls. Do something fun with them. Treat them like brothers and sisters. Ask real questions and give real answers. Look to serve alongside them. In short, say “I’m in!” to the Kingdom of God wherever you find yourself.

At the end of your time in that place, you might just find that your family has become that much bigger and your heart has been changed for the better.

Blog Update: Abby Zwicky

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I’ve been struggling with a way to accurately sum up the more important things that have been happening in my life since I’ve been here, the spiritual growth and character development I have gone through. Going into this trip, I had no idea what to expect, and I had my doubts as to whether or not I was making the right decision in going. Everyone’s excitement to have me come did little to quench the trepidation I felt in my heart about not knowing what I’d be doing, who I’d be living with, and whether I’d develop any kind of meaningful relationships. During my first week in Ireland, however, God very graciously reminded me that I am not here in order to get something out of the trip for myself. I am here to serve Him and bring Him glory, and I can do that no matter what I’m doing or how lonely I am. He reminded me I need to trust that, when He has called me to something, He will provide in His perfect way.

 

Since that first week, God has continued to bless me through the people I meet at City Church. I have never been among a group of people who so truly exemplify what Christian community ought to be. Though this is only my third week here, I already feel like I am a part of the family, for family is really the best way to describe it. Most of them are in Dublin for less than two years, due either to the length of their job or their education, but they do not let this hinder them from giving their all to the church and those who are a part of it. The people who stay at City Church see the value of committing to a church wholeheartedly, despite any time limits they may have. This has been a great encouragement to me to step out of my semi-introvert bubble, stop worrying about the awkwardness of getting to know new people, and invest in deep, meaningful relationships.

 

Through these experiences, God has been gradually pushing me out of my comfort zone (though there’s still a long way to go!), showing me that when I give up my fears and insecurities to Him, He gives me strength to do what I thought was impossible. Six months ago, I would have never imagined myself in Ireland doing ministry; I was all set with my quiet life, working and spending time with family and friends, and generally not doing anything too exciting. I was quite comfortable in this life, but God had a different plan. And now that I’m not quite so terrified of it as I once was, I’m really glad He did.

 

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly that all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever, Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21

Weekend Away

img_8051One of our City Dwellers has been reflecting on her experience of our first ever weekend away. Here’s what she has to say.

 

WEEKEND AWAY

WALK IN UNITY

WALK IN LIGHT

PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD

These themes encapsulated these past 2 1/2 days at the Castledaly Manor in Athlone, County Westmeath (pretty much in the dead center of Ireland), thanks to Gary Ellison.

City Church Dublin ventured out on our first ever weekend away on Friday evening to return to our beloved city this afternoon refreshed – if not slightly tired – and edified. After spending a few weeks in church diving into the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Gary joined us at Castledaly with his wife Allison to expand upon and ignite deep thought about chapters 4-6.

These past 3 days welcomed 3 speaker sessions, 3 times of worship, 6 meals, endless snacks, team competitions, 1 game of Settlers of Catan: Cities & Knights, a few games of Uno and Spot It! and a few walks. The result is a fuller picture of the body of Christ and a deep desire never to leave my City family. But as we were sorrowfully reminded as we closed our last session this morning, “to everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Fortunately for me in this transient church family of ours, I am the first to leave (and thus will be crying just once) – May 10th – to be quickly followed by students and interns and workers who are all fortunate to call Dublin home for either just a short time or just a few months out of the year. To commemorate this together, we shared aspects of City for which we’re thankful and things that are hard about this time. The resounding consensus is this:

City Church Dublin does an exceptional job of teaching and seeking to learn from the Bible, God’s living Word, and living out the Gospel truths evident within. Members of City embrace every newcomer, not despite their residential timeline, but because of it: they recognize time is precious and that church is a body of believers meant to encourage, strengthen, and ultimately send one another out for the Great Commission – to share the good news. I can only pray I find a home church like City in the next place I go. And as Dave so beautifully reminded me, I now have a piece of City; I have been immeasurably impacted by its love and grace and now have the wonderful opportunity to grace the next place I go with a touch of City – of the body of Christ living out the Gospel thousands of miles away. The reflection on our thankfulness for City’s embrace of international brothers and sisters coming together, for however long, placed so much more beautiful emphasis on Gary’s teachings. So I’ll share a bit of his messages with you now. [some pictures at the bottom]

 

WALK IN UNITY {EPHESIANS 4:17-32}

We are different – set apart – called to live lives that consistently contradict the world around us. That set apartness brings unity among us who center our lives around Christ.

Outside of Christ we are corrupt: of futile minds, darkened understanding, and blind hearts. It is through Christ we are made new, lifted from our old selves into righteousness and holiness (being set apart) [vv.17,18,24].

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renews in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created.” -vv. 20-24

That’s all fine and good, but practically, where does a Christian differ from a non-Christian? How does the aforementioned transformation affect my everyday life, thoughts, and behaviors both in private and around others?

We must speak the truth. Any words that set out to convey false impressions are lies. We must bring unity in the church through honesty.
how are you? I’m good, how are you?
This is a classic false impression most of us give several times a day. How much richer will our communities be if we bear one another’s burdens and celebrate together through victories? This is a small example, but one that sets the stage for many other conversations throughout the day. Another one:
oh wow, I’ll be praying for you!*never or rarely or lacklusterly prays for them*

Our anger must be sinless. It is okay to be angry, frustrated, upset. When we see injustice, when we feel the brute of sin against us – these are examples of righteous anger. What isn’t righteous is holding bitterness in our hearts by letting “the sun go down on our wrath.” Forgive before the day is done and free your heart from any potential foothold for the devil to fill it with real hatred. When this seems impossible, trust your anger into the hands of God, the just Judge and perfect King – He deals fairly with all and brings righteousness to the unjust. Do not give in to gossip, bullying, retaliation, grumbling, hatred, or unforgiveness.

We must be given to honest hard work. In a world that will do anything to get ahead, we must be different, full of integrity, that we might give all glory to God and share the Gospel through our daily behavior. I’ll skip ahead to chapter 6, verses 5-9: God holds no partiality among His children – so too, whether we are at a managing level or lower employee level in our workplace, we must hold all men in regard and with respect. We mustn’t give in to gossip, bullying, retaliation, grumbling, hatred, or unforgiveness. In doing so, we strengthen our community and are also better able to provide for our brothers and sisters by the fruit of our labors.

Our speech must give way to the glory of God. In a world that so often both values and squanders freedom of speech, let our “conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that [we] may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:6). Use it to edify the body of Christ “that it may impart grace to the hearers” (v. 29).

Ultimately I learned to ponder this question: Do I have the frown or smile of the Holy Spirit upon me? The Spirit Who teaches, Who convicts, Who reminds, and Who brings unity by binding us all to Christ and thus to one another. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit who brings you closer to each of these 4 ways to lives as a new man, as “renewed in the spirit of your mind” (v.23).

 

WALK IN LIGHT {EPHESIANS 5:8-14}

Holiness (being set apart) brings light. Therefore, we are lightwe must live as lightwe must confront the darkness.

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ Hi Son cleanses us from all sin.” -1 John 1:6-7

Need I go on with this one? Use the tactics above in the Walk in Unity section and try to identify areas in your life where you can be the light of Christ in the darkness of this world. Start with home life and work life by examining Ephesians 5:22-33; 6:1-4; 6:5-9. These aren’t easy so seek pastoral advice, online bible commentaries, or reach out to me if you’re really struggling with these ideas. Remember that they SHOULD strike a chord with you – they’re calling us to live lives contrary to the world around us. It’s difficult!

 

PUT ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD {EPHESIANS 6:10-20}

I’ve always loved the strength we derive from these words, not of our own accord, but by a power far stronger, wiser, and more loving than we will ever be. But today, wow today, I was challenged and encouraged by the idea of spiritual warfare far more than ever before.

We have a battle on our hands.
We have weaponsin our hands.

Paul likens spiritual warfare and our tools against it to a Roman soldier’s tools in battle:

T R U T H is our belt, by which all our armor is secure. When we face temptation, we are facing lies – false teaching – and our job is not to fight these lies, but to be girded with the truth to bring light to the darkness.

R I G H T E O U S N E S S is our breastplate, protecting our front, our back, and all our vital organs in between. It is an essential piece of equipment and one we have only in Christ. Think back to the first section: we are corrupt without Christ and in Him we are “created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

R E A D I N E S S is our sandals – Roman style – that stand firm in battle, with the finest leather doubled over and secured around our feet. “And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:15).

At Pine Cove camps, you must wear closed-toed shoes when serving in the kitchen. So there’s this sentiment that if you wear open-toed shoes to a meal, you’re essentially saying that you’re not ready to serve in the kitchen if called upon. Much like we are unsure when Jesus will come back to earth or when He will call us home, we can never be sure when or on how short of notice He’ll call on us to share His Word. We need to shod our feet in preparation of battle. To quote a sticker on the back of a car I saw one time, “if you stay ready, you ain’t gotta get ready”

F A I T H is our shield, where we feel most safe and protected, impenetrable by the Enemy. C.S. Lewis said, “faith is the art of holding onto something your reason once accepted in spite of changing moods.” The author of the letter to the Hebrews wrote, “Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (v. 11:1). When our thoughts and actions support an intimate relationship with God, our walk brings light into darkness, and out behavior unity in the church, our faith will be increased throughout these experiences.

S A L V A T I O N is our helmet that gives us confidence to go boldly into battle. There is no fear of persecution or defeat in the battle against darkness – spiritual warfare – when salvation is ours to eternally live with God the Father and Christ the Son in Heaven above. Through Christ’s loving sacrifice alone, do we have our salvation and it is by that salvation we have strength to face whatever  attacks when we willingly go to battle.

Why would we go willingly into battle? Let’s recap – we have  a belt holding up our breastplate. Our feet and head are covered and we bear our shield before us. So if anything were to attack, we can defend ourselves. But see, we are called to do MORE than just defend ourselves. We are called to “stand against the wiles of the devil” (v. 6:11). We are to fight the good fight and bring light to the darkness. So how do we do that? With our last tool:

G O D ‘ S  W O R D is our sword, to be used with all prayer and supplication, for the piercing of all veils and darkness and calamity. There’s no way to win a battle huddled in the fetal position waiting for your opponent to tire. If we are to bring the hope of salvation to untouched peoples and pursue holiness in community, we must put on the WHOLE armor of God.

This is so pertinent and the followup is so practical:
study His word. “Meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it” (Joshua 1:8). Dive into specific passages and themes until you have a more complete understanding; then move on. Memorize Scripture, not just by the words, but by their intended meaning and instruction and value.

I IMPLORE YOU TO BE THE LIGHT WHERE YOU SEE DARKNESS. I URGE YOU TO “ALWAYS BE READY TO GIVE A DEFENSE TO EVERYONE WHO ASKS YOU A REASON FOR THE HOPE THAT IS IN YOU, WITH MEEKNESS AND FEAR” (1 PETER 3:15). I ASK YOU TO JOIN ME IN PURSUING HOLINESS AND OFFERING OTHERS THE TOOLS TO PURSUE HOLINESS THAT IT WOULD BRING UNITY THAT IS GLORIFYING TO GOD.

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This blog post was originally from Kim’s, Meet The Road Blog.

Does Ireland need the Gospel?

(Warning this post contains strong language)

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Today we are broken hearted for the city we love as people took to the street to advocate for the destruction of little men and women in the womb. Dublin was brought to a stand still as protestors marched on international women’s day to repeal the 8th amendment.

The following are slogans from the march, we do not share these to shock or to pass judgement but rather to weep and to call our brothers and sisters everywhere to prayers for the city and country we love.

Slogans included:

  • May the foetus you love be gay
  • Keep your rosaries off my ovaries
  • Keep your theology off my biology
  • Not all vaginas belong to women. Keep your language inclusive
  • Not the church not the state, women must decide their fate
  • Thou shalt not mess with a woman’s reproductive rights (Fallopians 4:28)
  • If I wanted the church in my vagina I would fuck a priest
  • Hoes before embryos
  • My body my choice
  • My body my rules
  • Think outside my box

May we never be in doubt that Ireland desperately needs the gospel of the liberating grace of the Lord Jesus.

North Cider or South Cider?

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Over the last term it has been a great joy to spend time with our City Dwellers on a Tuesday night – studying the Bible together, sharing meals, praying for one another and talking about our interactions with those who don’t yet know Jesus.
Some people have travelled for 90 mins or more on public transport because they know the value of meeting outside of the Sunday gathering and are committed to being part of a gospel community in the city.
Before Christmas we plotted a map showing where we all gather from and discovered that, for the first time, we are split evenly between North Siders and South Siders. Our desire then became to multiply into the south of the city. Next month, by God’s grace, we will make that a reality!
We have a new location, leaders, a core team, and we are getting ready to send them off.
As we prepare for this move it is crucial that we continue to pursue the evangelistic desire that has so marked the last term. We must continue to cultivate and deepen relationships with those outside the family of faith. We must be lavish in our generosity as we seek to serve and encourage one another in our walks with Jesus.
Both groups will be smaller as a result of this move. The north side group will feel the absence of their south side brothers and sisters – but that is all the more reason to seek to fill those chairs! Similarly, the south side group has a whole new neighbourhood to speak into, with new needs to address and new friends to make.
On the 1st and 8th of February, this new group will meet socially in their new location to restate our commitment to mission and to pray for this new beginning. If you would like to be part of this south side group (meeting 10 mins from the Bluebell Luas stop on the Red Line), please get in touch with Chris@citychurchdublin.ie to express your interest.

Quarterly Update

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QUARTERLY UPDATE – SEPTEMBER 2016

Please CLICK HERE to access our quarterly update to keep informed on everything happening and ways that you can pray for Dublin & City Church.

 

 

 

City Church Dublin

 

 

ONE YEAR ON

One year on visualReflections of a City Church Apprentice


One year on from the beginning of my time with City  Church Dublin & it has been an eye opening year to say the least; A 22 year old guy leaving Bible College, thinking he knew so much about ministry and all that it would entail and everything the world would throw at him – HE DIDN’T HAVE A CLUE!

I was never expecting what I encountered, a fairly turbulent year of ministry for City Church Dublin, that I got swept up in as their apprentice; learning to swim is definitely necessary when you find yourself in the deep end. Shortly after I arrived at City, Mark (Lead Pastor) wrote a blog entitled “Welcome to the frontline, now go and die”. This blog post was highlighting the season of difficulty that had been prevalent for many involved in ministry in Dublin, hard pastoral ground, sickness, mental health issues, discouragement & bereavement. But God does not leave us, and that’s what gives us the hope to endure these things.

With all of that going on in the background and the forefront of our ministry, this has truly been one of the most exciting and enriching years of my life. I have met so many wonderful people that I call family; we say hellos and goodbyes all the time, but there is an intense cultivation of gospel centred community blossoming out of City Church Dublin that creates such a care and concern for the physical and spiritual well-being of the individuals and families that God sends our way; that has been amazing to be a part of.

Leaving a well established, fairly large, church in Northern Ireland, and entering into a young church plant in the centre of Dublin, was refreshing and frightening at the same time; I had been born into a church community that I then grew up with this community supporting and loving me. It was safe and comfortable and I really enjoyed the opportunities that God had given me to serve.

Now I was leaving the security of everything I had known and entering into the unknown, to work with 3 people I didn’t know beyond a few Skype sessions and an interview, to be in a position of responsibility for certain aspects of ministry in this new church. This is what was refreshing and exciting at the same time; having to be more intentional every single Sunday to greet the new people that entered our doors, to be loving through the week as I met with people, to be transparent and vulnerable and to never know how many people would show up on a Sunday morning, to face the frustrations that would accompany my new position, but to grow, to love and be loved, to cultivate community, to move beyond being people who meet every week, to being a group of people who genuinely care for one another. That has happened and is still happening.

I am forever grateful for the support that I receive; people reading my newsletters, people praying in response, the financial support of my home church and from others who have blessed me financially along the way. Your contribution has been very much appreciated and never goes unnoticed. I thank God for you all.

So what’s next?

I start a 3 year, part-time Masters this September, focussing on Church Planting. This is in association with Oak Hill Theological College & Acts 29 (a global church planting network). What started out as a staff team of 2 pastors and 2 apprentices has dramatically decreased to Mark and myself. Kieron, has just left City Church to Pastor Immanuel Church Dublin and to manage Irish Church Missions, as they seek to find a full time superintendent.

This increases my responsibilities, with more preaching and greater attention to one-to-one ministry. Focussing more on our student demographic, as well as all of the other roles that my apprenticeship involves. Mark & I will be attending a SOMA conference in October that focusses on Missional/Gospel Communities and how that looks elsewhere in Europe and we hope to learn how we can do this better.

Our first sermon series this year is entitled “Gospel DNA” – Spending some time looking at the basics and fundamentals of being a gospel centred church; this will be our launchpad and hopefully a catalyst for the intention we have in cultivating a greater desire to be a community that is missional and gospel focused in every area of our lives.

It will be ever-changing, as I have found ministry to be, and it will be challenging, but it is much more rewarding as we see people journey with God and become more like Jesus as they invest their lives in his Gospel and to be a part of the local church in the centre of Dublin.

Prayer points:

New intake of students for this academic year; that we will be a welcoming place to worship and a place where they know they will be loved and able to grow in their faith; that they will have a family here in Dublin.

Beginning my Masters; that I will be able to efficiently balance my time between my studies, sermon preparation, and all the other duties that I have in my work with City Church.

Missional Communities; as we meet every week to study God’s word and to grow together, that we will be a community that isn’t exclusively for the church, but a place where everyone, from all walks of life will feel welcome and loved.

Praise God for his provision, his sufficiency and his strength to persevere in this Gospel work in Ireland’s capital city.

Pray for opportunities to develop one-to-one ministries, with believers, and also with people who don’t know the Lord, but would be willing to take a look at Christianity and to study God’s Word.

Thank you for reading, thank you for praying and thank you for all your support over the past year and the support that I know I can rely on as I continue in my ministry here in Dublin.

Blessings,

Chris McGuire
chris@citychurchdublin.ie