Me with David Pytches and Barry Kissell at St Andrews Chorleywood
for the Ichthyans reunion in 2016
St Andrew’s Chorleywood was the spiritual home to those who explained the Gospel to me, patiently over two and a half years of lunchtime debates at high school.When I gave my life to Christ it became my spiritual home too. I owe this community of faith a great debt of gratitude. It was a great pleasure for me to attend a recent reunion of Ichthyans, the youth ministry at St Andrew’s from those days of my beginnings in faith. It was my privilege to thank the leaders publically for what they gave my generation and to share some reflections on just a few of the gifts of this special church:
St Andrews has given some great gifts to the world, some names you will know, others you won’t. If I just mention the New Wine festivals, Soul Survivor, Mike Pilavachi, Tim Hughes, Matt Redman; they are just the tip of the iceberg of a generation’s worth of “giving away” built into the DNA of St Andrew’s. This kingdom mindset – rather than one of parochial empire-building – has been a great model for many.
David Pytches and Barry Kissell worked closely together through two decades as they contributed not only this community but to renewal nationally and internationally. I was astonished early on in my journey as a believer when I learned that David and Barry differed on what I felt was a rather important theological point – I think it was to do with whether or not to baptise infants. This realtisation taught me early on that every believer must be a thinker and not turn our pastors into gurus, oracles or “leaders” in the sense that Jesus proscribes. The good humoured banter, and dramatised friction, making jokes at each others’ expense but with great affection was a display of the grace involved in any shared journey or ministry and the ability to let first things come first and secondary things come second. A wonderful model for generations to come in the art of working in team.
Bishop David Pytches and Barry Kissell
David Pytches showed enormous courage and exhibited a wonderful ability to appear calm and reasoned in the most baffling of environments. Never moreso than following John Wimber’s first visit to Chorleywood in 1981. The gift that Vineyard gave included intimacy in worship, intentional engagement of the Holy Spirit during an intense season of healings, deliverances and conversions, a theological thoughtfulness, a genteleness of approach and a respectful heart towards people and churches. It took tremendous courage to take hold of that gift, understand it and then share it with the world.
John Wimber & Maragaret Knight
Margaret Knight headed up the healing ministry at the church. I am perpetually grateful to Margaret for her generous welcome of me onto that team when I was still a teenager. Margaret showed me a great firmness and gentleness awesomely combined in her work of promoting, developing and defending this ministry. She demonstrated that discipleship is not all about syllabus and method but about participation with a humbling and learning spirit in sommunity with others. Margaret demonstrated that leadershp is often about inclusion, experiment and reflection, service and love – and never about self-promotion.
In our faith-sharing travels Margaret and Barry Kissell showed how a “word” from God never needs to be trumpeted or pressed upon the recipient in a way that forces them to accept it as if something had been spoken infallibly. If something is from the Lord it can be shared in the gentlest most open-handed of ways and it will hit home. I saw this time and again in the ministry modelled for me by the team at St Andrew’s.
St Andrew’s blessed me in more ways that I can enumerate. The church’s engagement not only with the world of renewal nationally and around the world provided a great starting point to many in their journeys in faith and ministry. Local engagement with disengaged and challenging youth in the suburb and suburbs around us as well as with the children of Chorleywood through the annual field mission were great places for young Christian workers to cut their teeth in the ministry of the Gospel.
All in all St Andrews gave me and a countless number food for a (God-willing) long and fruitful journey. A saying in the air from my season with that church: “Of those to whom much has been given, much will be expected!”
I am one of a generation that interpreted that as a call to carry the blend of Anglican and Vineyard values we imbibed at St Andrew’s into the wider church and the wider world. In the years since – thirty years or so – our contributions will have been met with various degrees of welcome. The only way we have endured the push and pull of that journey with all its joys and sorrows has been the grounding given us in the ministry of the church that so loved and nurtured us on our way. Enduringly, thank you St Andrew’s Chorleywood.