February 2024

Saturday 10th February 2024 23:09

Invisible 6 Days, Incomprehensible the 7th (February)

About 6 years ago I made the decision to use some money I was given for my birthday to purchase an exercise bike. I had loads of good intentions at the time about regularly using the bike so to improve my wellbeing. I wasn’t intending to train
for the Tour De France, I just wanted to improve my general fitness. The spare room where the bike lived wasn’t the most conducive place in our home to begin this new improved regime. It was a small ‘box’ room and it didn’t take long for the bike to
gather dust and become forgotten.

Moving to Potters Bar I had the opportunity to revisit the idea of using the bike. This time our spare room offers a more helpful environment and we have speakers in the room to play music. During the summer I made the conscious choice to be more
intentional in using the bike.

We have all seen the Peloton adverts which show individuals undertaking a vigorous routine on the machines. If we used the same products we too could have an athletic figure just like those in the adverts. My new routine begun at a more realistic level. A
short time for three times a week and then slowly building the time and frequency up. It worked and for 4 months I was feeling rather pleased with myself.

Things changed again when the days began to get shorter and the dark nights appeared. I no longer could watch out the back window and observe the wildlife gather in my neighbours garden. The 20 minutes or so became me staring into the
darkness and I became disinterested.

The beginning of 2024 I thought I’ll bring the bike into the bedroom as it has a wonderful view of the fields in the front. Surely this would be a good enough incentive for me to get back on the bike but all it is as you can see form the picture is
a place for our cuddly toys to perch!

The month of February we will undertake the journey through Lent as we make our way to Easter. Lent is a season where followers of Jesus are invited to become more intentional in seeking God. Psalm 27 says…

“My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

This becoming more intentional in carving out a habit of seeking God more in our lives is something we’d all agree with. Getting started and then ensuring the habit is sustained is the problem. A bit like getting on an exercise bike!
Part of the problem is that we see examples of the equivalent in faith of individuals modelling Peloton (there are other manufacturers of Exercise Equipment available) machines and think that will be us if we do this. We get despondent when this
doesn’t happen. Maybe there is another way? Perhaps in this season of Lent we begin by starting with a shorter, more manageable time in carving out space to seek God. We do this for three times a week or whatever we know is manageable. Then we stick to this routine not worrying others maybe doing more or appear ‘stronger’, ‘fitter’ Christians but acknowledging we are sustaining what works for us. After a couple of weeks and once the habit feels more part of our rhythm in life we can then either add another 5 minutes or another day in the week.

The reason we encourage one another to carve out time to seek God is not because it makes us model Christians. We carve out time to seek God because when we do, it actually gives our Creator pleasure. God delights in us when we take time out to
seek him. King David in 2 Samuel acknowledges this in one of the songs he wrote…

“He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.”

Take a moment to reflect upon this. God delights in you and I! Maybe, this Season of Lent we can use this idea to spur us on in our faith.


Christmas Eve

Sunday 24th December 2023 10:47

Please note that our Christmas Eve Service will be held at 4.30 pm and will take the form of Carols by Candlelight.

No morning service.

Christmas Day - Monday, 25th December at 10.30 a.m. morning service led by our Minister Adrian Wood. Bring a present you received this morning to show to the congregation during the service.

December 2023

Friday 24th November 2023 16:38

Below are some one-line summaries of popular films.

“Chartered Fishing Trip Gone Wrong” ………..Jaws

“Health Codes ignored” …..Ratatouille (Disney)

“Group spends 9 hours returning jewellery” – Lord of the Rings

The above provoked a smile from me. I wonder if you were to select some films you like and summarise the plot to one line what would you choose? Maybe this is a game to play with family/friends over Christmas? Maybe not!!

Whilst this idea offers a little bit of fun, I can’t help but think that when we try to summarise a story down to one line we lose so much of the wonder of the story.

It is our first Christmas in Potters Bar and we are excited about what traditions we will continue and the new ones we will find. Firstly, the tree goes up and despite the rumours I am not OCD about how the tree is decorated but it has to be done a certain way! I’m sure some reading this will understand.

Then I make the most of mince pies being available and these are consumed only in December. One of the reasons being is that I like mince pies a lot and my waistline could not handle me eating these outside of December.

I also love shopping for presents to give to family and get frustrated when they don’t offer a sufficient number of suggestions. When the shopping is complete, I spend an evening wrapping them whilst watching either The “Muppets Christmas Carol” or “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Both obligatory viewing in the festive season (In My Humble Opinion!). I also create a play list of my favourite Christmas Songs and will torment my family quite cheerfully with this as they are less keen.

However much fun we have during the festive season. Whatever our traditions we cherish and love to revisit the Christian Faith reminds us that Christmas is about so much more.

Sadly though, in some circles the Christmas message has been given a similar treatment to our film summary game above. Christmas has been reduced to one sentence that says, “Jesus came to save”.

I’m not denying that this idea is part of Christmas but I think we lose so much if this is all we have to offer. Christmas invites us to experience waiting in wonder. To recapture the idea of the “Author of Life” breaking into our world as one of us. To ask questions why God chose to include a teenager, a low paid worker, some foreign scientists and shepherds. There is lots more to the Christian understanding of the festive season we can engage with.

In a society that is increasingly finding it can no longer sustain it’s own ideas of what the meaning of Christmas is, I think the Christian understanding of Christmas has to be heard. Not the one sentence version but the whole story. At PBBC we invite all those who would like to come and join us and rediscover this understanding of Christmas. There maybe even a mince pie on offer as well!

Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy new Year


November 2023

Friday 24th November 2023 16:34

The fireworks were rather spectacular. The multi coloured display lighting up the night sky was accompanied by the customary ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ from the onlooking crowd. What was also lovely was the way the surrounding sea water reflected the array of colours from the fireworks, and we sat captivated by what was going on around us after enjoying what can only be described as a feast.

This memory occurred whilst we were on holiday last year visiting family in USA and we were there during 4th July celebrations. This is an annual holiday for our Trans-Atlantic cousins where they celebrate independence from British rule!

It is soon approaching the time of year when our own communities light up the night sky with fireworks. “Remember, remember the 5th of November” is the saying. The legend of when Guy Fawkes led a group to try to blow up parliament and prevent the union of Great Britain. I use the word ‘legend’ because the years since have seemed to stretch and distort aspects of the truth.

We “remember’ in November for another reason. Remembrance Sunday when the nation stands still. For those precious moments we remind ourselves of the sacrifice so many made during both World Wars and subsequent conflicts. We remind ourselves again of the call to be “Peacemakers” and to be more intentional in this.

To “remember” is also a Biblical invitation. The Israelites were constantly instructed to remember. To not forget who they were but also to never forget what their God has done for them. Time and time again in the Old Testament we see the Israelites being stubborn and conveniently forgetting what was important.

What I find astonishing is how God persistently welcomes the Israelites back. In Jeremiah 31 he says his love for them is “everlasting” and that when they return to him, he says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.” God chooses to forget our sin. He no longer will hold this against us!

It is about the halfway point of The Chosen course we have been hosting. I have been grateful to all those who have helped support me in the leading and running of this and our small groups have been great as well. My hope is that by watching this interpretation of the life of Jesus our own imaginations have been inspired when we consider the gospel narratives. In addition, that we have been encouraged to talk more about Jesus and to do so in a way that invites others to come join in the conversation.

Also happening this month is another gathering (Tues 28th November @ 8pm) of all those who hold a leadership role in the church. We did this in the summer, but I want to do it again. I feel the space where we gather is important so we can talk about how we serve but also pray for one another.

Our annual Christmas Fayre takes place on Saturday 18th November. I am grateful to Sue and all those who organise this. We also have our Church Members meeting on Thursday 16th November. So, there is lots for us to remember this month!

Every Blessing


October 2023

Sunday 8th October 2023 08:06

In recent years Vinyl records have been going through a renaissance. My Dad gave me his Turntable a few years ago, and after it having a service, we began collecting our favourite CD’s on vinyl. It’s been fun.

One album I found via a well-known on-line market site is a record by a South African group called, ‘Friends First’. This was a group created in the 1980’s and the musicians were drawn together from various church backgrounds to offer a united voice in apartheid South Africa. The album was called, “We See a New Africa”.

In the late 1980’s my Aunt & Uncle moved to Johannesburg from USA for work and we had an opportunity to go and visit at Christmas. Before we left my church youth group went to a concert in Brighton where Friend’s First were playing. Two weeks later whilst on holiday in SA I visited a church. Unbeknown to me the lead singer of Friends First was a member here and I got to meet him.

In my previous church in London Colney, I belonged to a local ecumenical group of church leaders who would meet regularly for coffee and prayer. One pastor had moved from South African to start a church in St Albans. He was a member of this church in Johannesburg I had visited 30 years earlier and was also part of the team on the Friends First Album!!

I love the way how life is so interconnected. Random circumstances in life become intertwined. There is a word in South Africa called, ‘Ubuntu’. It speaks of “I am who I am because of who we all are”. We are all human and the opening narrative of the Bible profoundly reminds us that we are all made in the image of God and then the text states that this is “very good”.

Whether it is Apartheid in South Africa, USA’s history with civil rights or our own countries story of colonisation the church needs to constantly use its voice to remember this profound Biblical truth that we are all created in the image of God. During the month of October, it is Black History month and I am grateful to Raphael and Kehinde for offering their own reflections.

Also, this month we begin showing ‘The Chosen’ over an eight-week period. It is a TV series imagining how the gospel narratives of Jesus’s life occurred. How he met his disciples, the circumstances around the events, his teaching, the miracles he performed. If you have yet to invite someone to join either the Wednesday evening or the Thursday afternoon sessions then there is still time. Even if you are unable to bring a friend but you’d like to join in then this is great. Please could you add your name to the sign-up list in the church.

This month we will welcome representatives from BMS and London City Mission for a Sunday Service. Then we will begin a sermon series on Luke’s gospel. This will lead up to Advent and Christmas which will soon be upon us!!

Every Blessing


The Chosen

Saturday 9th September 2023 15:57

During the summer I have been speaking about The Chosen TV series and the idea to use it as an Outreach opportunity.
I am not usually a fan of religious films especially those depicting Bible events and narratives. The reasons for this are
many! But I have loved The Chosen and the way it imagines the gospel narratives. The Chosen explores the life of Jesus by
imaging the circumstances surrounding the Bible texts. How Jesus met each of his disciples and the situations involving his
teaching and miracles. There are some truly lovely moments in this TV series.

The idea is to show the first season over eight weeks starting from 4th October. An episode per session followed by space for
people to discuss what they have seen. My hope is that we can invite people we know to come and have a safe space to
explore our faith, to ask questions without being ‘preached at’.

Refreshments will be available.

If you would like to know more then please contact me and the
dates for the sessions are below.

Evening Sessions (8pm)
4th, 11th, 18th, 25th October 5th, 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd November

Afternoon sessions (2.30pm)
5th, 12th, 19th, 26th October 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd November

The Revd Adrian Wood

September 2023

Saturday 9th September 2023 15:23

The summer months for me have in the past offered different spaces and a different rhythm. Spaces to create some
memories with my family as we enjoy the time together. This year has had even more importance as our daughter came
home at the beginning of the Summer after completing her first year at university. We have enjoyed a couple of open-air
concerts together where we sung our hearts out to the songs we love. We have enjoyed sitting outside and having meals and
also catching up with wider family and friends. We have also looked forward to our family holiday and to visit family in the

The different rhythm I welcome usually comes when in church life a number of regular activities take a break over the
Summer. This provides me with additional space to read, to plan and discern, to work through ideas for the autumn term.
We are of course now at the start of the autumn term and the evidence of the seasonal change will be all around us. As
children and YP return for another school year the colours of autumn begin to appear and the dark nights draw closer.
Autumn also provides the church with familiar reference points for us to observe and celebrate. It begins with Harvest (1 st
October), and we welcome Ruth Montacute from BMS to take our service. She will also be sharing some updates about the
work BMS undertakes. It is good to broaden our view to see how our Baptist Family engages with the wider world. Following
the service will be a lunch and more details about this will follow soon.

In October we will also begin a new exciting outreach idea centred on the TV series, The Chosen. Please see my article a
few pages on for more details. Firstly, I would ask that you pray that people would be open to come and be willing to have
discussions. I would also encourage you all to consider people you know and invite them to join us.

For Remembrance Sunday we will pause along with our nation to remember the devastation of war but also the call to be
intentional in being Peace-Makers. I really value these precious minutes of silence when our nation stands together.
Plans are also being worked through regarding Advent and Christmas and further information will be given out over the
weeks ahead.

The Revd Adrian Wood

July/August 2023

Tuesday 15th August 2023 16:17

What are the companies and brands that are part of your everyday life? The organisations which have found a place in what you do and how you live? Maybe you have a specific daily newspaper, or you always buy a particular brand of Tea or Coffee? Do you purchase items from the same stores/internet website or shop around?

All these companies and brands that have found their way into our lives have something in common. They will all have what is called a ‘Mission Statement’. A mission statement is a statement about the goals, values and objectives of that organisation. The International Olympics Committee has one, so does Disney, the Scouts, Greenpeace and Yorkshire Tea, you name it, pretty much every organisation has one.

Upon entering the church and hung up on the wall in the foyer is the mission statement for PBBC. It’s easy to simply walk past it but I wonder when was the last time you paused and read it?

Most Churches have a Mission Statement and the words and ideas used in these are often similar. This is because all churches have to reflect the “goals, values and objectives’ that Jesus gives through the two greatest commandments and the Great Commission in Matthew 28.

These remind us that being part of a church community includes holy responsibilities and requirements which none of us can abstain from. The good news about the mission statement Jesus invites us all to participate in is that we are asked to “Go” but it doesn’t say ‘how’. We have immense freedom to how we communicate the mission we are asked to invest our lives in. I find this encouraging as methods used 10, 20, 30 years ago are not always appropriate. This means we need to be continually creative and inventive to how we live out our gospel mandate.

Over the months of July & August our sermon series will begin to unpack some of the virtues and ideas that we feel underpin our church mission statement. What would you suggest? It would be great if you could come along and be part of the discussion.

The Revd Adrian Wood

New Minister

Sunday 26th February 2023 16:44

We are delighted to welcome the Rev'd Adrian Wood to be our Pastor from Sunday, 9th April 2023 - Easter Sunday.

Join us for the Easter Day service at 10.30 a.m. here in the Church.

On Saturday, 15th April we have the Induction Service for Adrian at 3.30 p.m. All welcome

Please pray for Adrian and his family as they move into the Manse shortly. Pray also for the church he has left.

Wed.Com Club

Wednesday 30th November 2022 21:02

On Wednesday, 14th December The Revd Atalie Gaines will be leading a short Christmas service with carols. This will be followed by Festive refreshments with tea and coffee. All are welcome to come and join us. You will receive a warm welcome.

Christmas Fayre

Friday 4th November 2022 08:28

We are once again holding a Christmas Fayre on Saturday, 19th November 2022 from 11 - 3 p.m.
Free Entry, lots of crafts to buy, books, CDs, activities for the children including face painting, Silent Auction.
Refreshments available: Teas, coffees, jacket potatoes, soup and roll.

Come along and enjoy the atmosphere.

All welcome

See you on the 19th November!!

Christmas 2021

Sunday 12th December 2021 21:57

Sunday, 19th December

All welcome to come and join us for our services on Sunday, 19th December.

10.30 a.m. The children will present the nativity story during the morning service - all welcome.

6.00 p.m. Carols by candlelight - come and join us to sing traditional carols and hear the story of Christmas.

All welcome to our services. Please sanitise hands on entry to the church and wear a mask in church to comply with the current Covid restrictions.

Our offerings today will be given to Mercy Ships who are involved with the distribution and giving the Covid vaccination.

Christmas Day - Saturday, 25th December at 10.30 a.m.

Come and join us to celebrate the birth of Jesus - Service will be lead by Vera and Martin Eccleshall
All welcome.

Wednesday.Com - October

Sunday 3rd October 2021 15:14

Programme for October 2021 - Club meets on Wednesday afternoon from 2 - 4 p.m.

October 6th - Games and Chat

October 13th - We welcome Stephen Poxon who will regale us with tales and anecdotes of his life in "The Salvation Army".

October 20th - Today James Higgs is back with us, minus his smart Toastmaster outfit to speak on "The Adventures of an Estate Agent" spanning his 45 years= career and encounters with home-seeking celebs and quirky personalities!

October 27th - Club Anniversary - Tea and Cake to celebrate!

Wednesday.Com - October

Sunday 3rd October 2021 15:12

Programme for October 2021 - Club meets on Wednesday afternoon from 2 - 4 p.m.

October 6th - Games and Chat

October 13th - We welcome Stephen Poxon who will regale us with tales and anecdotes of his life in "The Salvation Army".

October 20th - Today James Higgs is back with us, minus his smart Toastmaster outfit to speak on "The Adventures of an Estate Agent" spanning his 45 years= career and encounters with home-seeking celebs and quirky personalities!

October 27th - Club Anniversary - Tea and Cake to celebrate!

July/August 2021

Friday 2nd July 2021 14:19

It is with a vast range of mixed emotions that I write this article as it is the last of these I will write for our magazine and website as the minister of Potters Bar Baptist Church. I hope you don’t mind if, rather than my usual biblical reflection, I take the opportunity to reflect a little on my time here.

I arrived at PBBC almost nine years ago fresh faced, with one less child and with a quite lot more hair. I arrived to be minister in training not knowing the church or any of the people here but knowing that if it all went wrong I’d only be here for three years and only part time. What we found when we arrived was a church family that was not perfect, and still isn’t, but one that opened up its arms to us in a way that surpassed our expectations. We have been well loved during these years. We have been well supported as our family has grown and we’ve navigated new challenges in our personal lives. We have been loved as I have learned how to minister full time, a process that is ongoing. We have been cared for in hard times and celebrated with in good. You have made us part of the family.

When I finished my studies at Spurgeons and became a Newly Accredited Minister I was delighted to accept the invitation of the church to stay and take up the role full time. As we prayed about that decision we simply couldn’t imagine being anywhere else, God still had work for us to do. In all these years I believe we have seen this church family move forward in its relationship with Jesus and in our relationships with one another.

Whilst we are confident that the Lord is calling us on, whilst we are excited about the new challenges he has laid before us, whilst we have seen his hand at work in this over the last year we are incredibly sad to be leaving our family here in Potters Bar. God called us to come and be part of this family, to love and to serve and to lead and this is what we have strived to do. I’ve not always got it 100% right, I hope you will forgive me for those times. But mostly we have both loved and been loved and I cannot thank you all enough for that.

As we spend some time in the coming weeks saying goodbye I’d like to remind you of our verse for the year this year, my prayer for this wonderful family and the future God has for it:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13


June 2021

Sunday 6th June 2021 16:49

I don’t know about you but I find myself returning to the same passages of scripture again and again. Sometimes it’s because they have new things to say to me, other times it’s because I need to be reminded of old truths which I already know. I shared once such passage with our church leaders at one of our recent meetings. We read together the first half of Joshua chapter one. It includes these words:

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

Moses was dead and God’s people were moving into a new phase of their journey, the road ahead was unknown, the challenges ahead were unknown. Understandably there was a degree of concern about what was going to happen. Whilst they didn’t know what they might be about to face there were three things that God’s people could rely upon:

1. The promises of God:- ‘You will lead these people into the land I swore to their ancestors’
2. The presence of God:- ‘I will be with you, I will never leave you or forsake you.’
3. The equipping of God:- ‘As I was with Moses, so I will be with you.’

Like the Israelites our church is moving into the next phase of it’s journey with God. There are changes afoot. At the start of August I will be moving to the North-East to take up a new position. Over the coming months, as lockdown eases, we’ll be learning how to worship together all over again, learning to fellowship together, discovering changes in ourselves and in our life together as a church family.

All this may seem a little daunting but as we look to the future I’d like to remind you of those three things that we can rely upon as God’s people:

1. The promises of God:- God told us that our church would travel through a valley, and we’ve certainly felt that over the last few years. But he has also told us that we can be fruitful in the valley and victorious as we emerge from it having grown through the experience.
2. The presence of God:- He promises to be with us, his people, in all things. Even as we journey into the unknown his presence goes before us, beside us, behind us and within us.
3. The equipping of God:- God has given Potters Bar Baptist Church some amazing people with some incredible gifts. Over the coming weeks and months and years new people will take on new responsibilities and you will discover new gifts. In Him the church has everything it needs.

And so, equipped by our God in His presence and by His power, may we all be strong and courageous as we step into the future.


April / May 2021

Sunday 18th April 2021 11:47


At the beginning of May I am due to start a three month Sabbatical. Many of you will know that this was postponed last year as we all tried to work out how to continue caring for one another and worshipping together whilst in lockdown. I must confess that as I write these words, in the middle of March, I am still not 100% confident that there will not be some further development which means that my plans may yet need to change again. I, like most of us at the moment, am learning to trust God’s timing.

A Sabbatical is a chance to rest, to study and to spend time with God. In the four gospels, the biblical accounts of Jesus life he often steps aside from his ministry, away from the crowds and the disciples, and finds a place and some time to be with God. It seem that, for Jesus, this helped him when he faced difficult decisions or task, as he processed things that had happened or even to recharge after hard physical, emotion or spiritual work.

So he goes into the desert before he starts his ministry, he goes away by himself in Matthew 14 when he hears that his cousin John has been killed. He spends a whole night alone in prayer before choosing the 12 disciples, he even encourages the disciples themselves to take some time and rest after they had been sent out in his name.

By taking time out to rest and spend with God Jesus was able to be more effective upon his return. He knew that we all need times of sabbath, of holy rest. I am deeply grateful that I work in an environment that appreciates this need and I’m grateful to the whole church family for enabling me to set aside this time. My sincere hope is that the three months of my sabbatical will be a time of growth, both for myself and for the whole church. That I will learn lots, and be able to come back refreshed, revitalised and, I trust, having heard from God. I hope too that within the life of the church there will be opportunities for people to serve in new ways and for the church to hear from God as well.

I know this is a privilege I have which is not afforded to everyone. However it’s still important that you; whatever time in life you are in, whatever normally fills your days and weeks, find time to rest and time to spend with God. I wonder when the last time you stepped aside from the day-in-day-out was? When was the last time you stopped for a morning, a day, a few days, to refocus? When will the next time be?

I’d love to be able to tell you now everything I’m going to be getting up to in may sabbatical, but I cannot. There are events and training courses which I had been looking at but it is still uncertain whether these will take place or not this year. What I do have is a pile of books, mostly about faith and mental health, which I intend to read. I also have a list of friends, family members and churches whom I hope to visit once lockdown rules allow.

Whilst I am away if there is anything you’d normally want to speak to me about or any support you need please contact a member of our Leadership Team, I am leaving you in their extremely capable hands!

Joel Mercer

(Please note that the Sabbatical has been delayed until August 2021)

March 2020

Thursday 4th March 2021 08:17

As I write Nasa have just landed the Perseverance Rover on the surface of Mars and we have been to see some of the first high quality pictures that it is sending back. It’s extraordinary, we have built and developed a little robot and sent it over 200,000,000 km away. Across that vast distance it can receive instructions and send back information. It’s going to gather samples over the course of two years and hopefully bring them back to us. I think that is extraordinary.

And yet the pictures that Perseverance has sent back, in fact all the pictures and videos we have form the surface of Mars, look quite ordinary. My wife Vicki compared it to the lake district this week, though there is a lot less water on Mars than in the lakes. But it is just rocks, to my untrained eye it just looks like a rocky place you might find on earth. I don’t know what I was expecting really, maybe photos of little green men waving at us or strange coloured plant-life. But in fact it looks so ordinary which probably makes sense when we realise that Mars is made up of all the same elements that Earth is.

On the one hand we have the extraordinary, images from another planet, millions of miles away, and on the other hand the very ordinary rocks and dust that makes up that planet. This idea of the extraordinary and the ordinary all rolled into one made me think of Jesus.

Jesus who was extraordinary, God the Son, chosen Messiah, Spirit filled, promised saviour. But he was also ordinary, human man who ate and drank with his friends, grieved and got angry and tired and frustrated. Who went out into the desert to get ready for the task ahead of him and was tempted.

This juxtaposition, this connection between the extraordinary and the ordinary leaves me feeling inspired. I imagine that many of the people working at NASA today were inspired by those missions to the moon in the 60s and 70s. I imagine that there were children and young people watching the Perseverance Rover touch down who will we in turn inspired, maybe some of them will be the first people to walk on Mars.

And in the same way Jesus inspires me. You know in John 14:12 Jesus says:

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father

It inspires me to know that whilst I am an ordinary man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, the same spirit that was with Jesus, I can be part of something extraordinary, I can do extraordinary things.

I can, like Jesus, resist temptation, obey Father God, be his ambassador. I can be part of ordinary and extraordinary miracles, the work of God to change this world and the people in it, ways that seem both amazing and mundane. Though I am weak I can, with him do amazing things. And so can you.

You are an ordinary person. You are an extraordinary child of God.

January 2021

Sunday 3rd January 2021 18:14

I wonder what you are hoping for this year. Many of us are hoping that at some point in 2021 the world will go back to being a bit more like it was before we’d every heard of COVID 19. I guess many of us are hoping that things we’ve missed in 2020 will be able to take place in 2021.

I wonder what you think will actually happen. How optimistic are you that the things you hope for in the coming year will actually take place? I write this a few days before Christmas and now, more than any time in the year, I have to manage that gap between what my children are hoping for and what might actually be under the tree on Christmas morning. Sometimes what we expect will happen is very different form what we want to happen, and sometimes what does actually happen is completely different again.

Our verse for the year this year, in 2021 is:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

The hope that we have in Jesus is different from the sort of hopes we might have for the coming year. With Christ there is no gap between what we hope for and what we expect, no gap between what we expect and what will happen. Our hope in Christ is based on the promises of God, not least for an eternity in him. It is sure and certain and trustworthy.

Whatever happens in 2021 with regard to pandemics, the economic repercussions of lockdowns and leaving the EU. Whatever uncertainties we face ahead; Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today and tomorrow. A solid rock on whom our lives are based, in whom we have hope for a brighter future.

This is the third article in a row that I have written on hope, I make no apology, now more than ever we need to place our hope in something steadfast, something we can be sure of. Now more than ever we need the hope that comes from faith in Christ.

Whilst we wait for our hopes to come to fruition be kind to yourselves and to one another.


December 2020

Sunday 29th November 2020 11:16

Christmas isn’t cancelled.

As I write this it’s mid-November and, maybe even more than any other year, everyone seems to be talking about Christmas. Pubs and restaurants are worried that Christmas won’t be busy enough this year to keep them afloat, businesses are not sure what things will be like, politicians are arguing about how many people should be allowed to meet up and for how long and under what circumstances and many of us are wondering what on earth Christmas will be like this year. I don’t know what Christmas will be like for our church family. I do know that we have decided to keep the doors of our building’s closed, our services will continue to go out online and over the phone. I think the one thing that we can all be sure of is that one way or another Christmas will be different this year. It will be different, but whatever the rules and restrictions are there is one thing to remember: Christmas is not cancelled, Christmas cannot be cancelled. Even if we are all in lockdown and all the churches are closed, Christmas is not cancelled.

The birth of Jesus cannot be cancelled.
The coming of the King cannot be cancelled.
The Light of the World cannot be cancelled.
The Head of the Church cannot be cancelled.
The Promised Saviour cannot be cancelled.
The Love of God cannot be cancelled.
The Joy Bringer cannot be cancelled.
The Prince of Peace cannot be cancelled.
The Hope of all Mankind cannot be cancelled.
God with us cannot be cancelled.

I’m sure there are traditions that we will all miss this year, where we normally meet up with friends and family a phone call might have to suffice. But rather than becoming upset about the lack of festivities I’d encourage you to see this Christmas as an opportunity. If there are no big get togethers to prepare for, no huge amount of food to be cooked, if there are no office parties to attend, or get togethers down the pub, if there is less shopping you can do, if there are less carol services to attend. Treat this year as a gift, a gift of time and space. Time and space to reflect on God come to earth, instead of another party, on the baby who would save the world, instead of another secret Santa present. I’m sure all of the traditions which you love will be back next year. But for this year you have a gift, sent squander it, revel in it. Reflect on incredible story of the one through whom all things were made becoming a wailing, pooping, vomiting, human baby.

And remember that Christmas is about hope. It’ about eternal hope, that no matter how bleak things might seem today, no matter how much we are struggling, how sad we feel to be missing out on the usual festivities, how worried we are about our business and finances, there is hope. Jesus came to create a better tomorrow.

Joel Mercer

November 2020

Saturday 31st October 2020 13:58


to want something to happen or to be true, and usually have a good reason to think that it might:
Cambridge English Dictionary

"Hope" is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all

And sweetest in the Gale is heard
And sore must be the storm —
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm —

I've heard it in the chillest land —
And on the strangest Sea —
Yet, never, in Extremity,
It asked a crumb — of Me.
Emily Dickinson

I’ve been thinking quite a lot about hope recently, it’s one of the things that keeps me going. I don’t know which of the definitions of hope above you prefer, but my favourite is definitely Emily Dickinson’s. As the months that we have lived under restrictions increase, as the temperature drops and the days get darker, I need hope. I need that thing which continues to sing in the storm, that raises me up as if on wings.

Hope is, I think, one of the great gifts that God’s people can give to the world. We don’t have to settle with the hope of spring in the midst of winter, or the uncertain hope of something that may or may not come. Our hope is in the creator of the ends of the earth who doesn’t grow tired, his understanding none can fathom. Our hope is in the one who give strength to the weary and power to the weak. Our hope is in the one who told his followers that he was going ahead of them to prepare a place for them.

Emily Dickinson’s poem reminds me of nothing more than the words of Isaiah 40:31

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

My prayer for you in this season is that you too might know such hope, and that you might find ways to share it with others.

Joel Mercer

Christmas is coming..

Saturday 31st October 2020 13:54

It’s beginning to look a lot like….

This Christmas is going to be different. There will be lots of things that we cannot do which we have done in the past. But there are also some new things which we are planning that we hope you can help with:

1 - Advent Windows: We’d like to bring some colour and some life to our community by creating some advent art at church. The idea is that each day from December 1st we will put up a Christmas themed display in one of the widows at the front of our buildings. But we need you! Can you be responsible for one (or more) of our window displays?

2 - Zoom Nativity: We wont be able to have a nativity service in our buildings which we can invite lots of people to so we are going online. We need some people who have access to zoom to play various roles in our nativity. Could this be you?

It doesn’t matter how good or bad you think you are at art, how wonderful or terrible an actor you might be. This is about coming together to help remind people that even in the midst of despair there is hope, and that hope came at Christmas time.

If you’d like to be involved in either of these ventures please get in touch with Joel at minister@pbbc.org.uk or 01707 651179 ASAP.

September 2020

Saturday 19th September 2020 14:15

Normal is overrated.

It seems to me that most of us, in our teenage years and early adulthood, end up following one of two paths. We either do our very best to fit in; we make sure to dress like everyone else, talk like everyone else, listen to the same music and go the same places as everyone else, or we decide that normal is the last thing we want to be; instead we want to stand out, to be different. It won’t surprise most of you to hear that I chose the latter path: I grew a mohican and dyed it all sorts of colours, I refused to listen to the pop music that most people my age were listening to and instead opted for something with trumpets, I didn’t want to be normal.

To be honest I don’t really know what normal is, which seems to be a problem at the moment as people keep talking about getting back to normal or the new normal. And when I think about church this all worries me a little, because I think we should be anything but normal.

The church in this country is in decline. Less and less people mark their religion down on the census as Christian each time it comes around, even less people choose to gather to worship God regularly. Many of us think back wistfully for years gone by when our church had more people in it, when the youth group thrived. So I’m not sure that, post-COVID, the church should be looking to go back to normal, I’m not sure that normal was working.

In Acts 8, there is a great upheaval in the church, a crises which means that everything the church has done up to that point has to change. The church is scattered things seem bleak and yet the result of this crises is that the Good News of Jesus Christ is spread far and wide. The church never went back to what had been normal in those early days, they didn’t wait out the persecution and then just return to what they had been doing before. The church goes from being small community of Jewish people in Jerusalem to being a diverse collection of Jews and gentiles throughout the known world.

As a church I’m not sure that we want to return to normal. I think maybe God has new things for us, new ways of being church, new adventures to go on with him, new initiates to start, new people to draw into the family of God. But if we rush back into what we knew before, if we rush to go back to normal, maybe we’ll miss the amazing new thing he has in store for us.

So I’d like to ask something of you all. I’d like to ask you to pray with me. Pray for God’s guidance, pray that he would show us which parts of the old normal need to cease and what new things we can do. Pray about all the stuff tech hutch does, on Sundays and during the week, pray about those things you come to, do they need to change or stop, or grow. Pray that God will lead us forwards, not just back to where we were before. And pray that throughout this journey he will be with us.

In Genesis 28 Jacob had had to leave his family, he’d cheated his older brother Esau and now Esau was looking for revenge. At this time of crises in his life Jacob leaves. And the God comes to him in a dream. God says:

“I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Gen 28:13-15

It would be many years before Jacob returned, and nothing would go back to being as it had been before. But throughout the changes in his life, throughout the hard times and indeed in the return, God was with Jacob. So as we move forward into something different, let’s do so confident that God is with us, not clinging to the normal that we have left behind but trusting in his promises for an abnormal future.

Normal is overrated anyway.

Smile, you're on camera !

Wednesday 1st July 2020 19:42

I wanted to let you all know of an exciting development relating to our worship services which we are hoping to put in place once we begin to meet together in person again.

As I write we are still not certain when we will be able to meet in our church buildings. The Leadership Team are listening to advice from the Government and the Baptist Union and constantly reviewing our church activities and the use of our buildings. Once it is legal and safe for us to return to something a little more closely resembling normal, we will do so.

We have been delighted that over the last few months, as we moved to online only services, many people have watched and participated who would not normally come into our buildings on a Sunday. We also recognise that when we do get back there may still be some of us who need to continue to isolate or would prefer to remain apart for their own safety.

With this in mind the Leadership Team have decided that in the future we will be streaming our Sunday morning services. It means that people will be able to watch our services, as they happen, on YouTube at home. If you are with us in person this might mean that you get caught on camera, those on stage will certainly be captured, if we see those in the congregation it will mostly be backs of heads! We’ll also be setting aside a part of our worship space for those who do not wish to be filmed. We’ll let you know where this is once we all return.

In the meantime continue to look after yourselves and one another and we look forward to seeing you in person as soon as it is safe for us to do so.

July 2020

Wednesday 1st July 2020 19:40

It has been difficult leading a church through times like these. On top of all the normal challenges of trying to help people grow in faith and sharing the good news of Jesus, there has been new ones: Technology to learn how to use, new ways of connecting with people to put into place. We’ve been supporting one another as we face circumstances that have naturally led to increased anxiety and worry, that have put extra strain on everybody’s mental health. Without the benefit of Church Members meetings we’ve had to think about new ways to make decisions. It’s been hard for the Leadership Team, and it continues to be, it seems that each week there is some new restriction or rule to get out heads round. Even as those restrictions ease it is not always straightforward for us understanding who can do what and when.

So as I write we have not opened our church buildings for private prayer, even though we are now legally allowed to do so. It may be that by the time you read this we have changed our minds. We were torn over this decision but our guiding principle continues to be the wellbeing; physically, mentally and spiritually, of our church family. This means that as restrictions continue to be relaxed by our government we will only start to resume our own activities when we can be reasonably sure that they will not expose people to unnecessary risk.

With this in mind we’d ask you to bear with us and be gracious to us. There is no need to ask when we might get back to church, to remind us of what the government have said about it. Be assured that we constantly assessing this and we will make sure that you are made aware as soon as church activities resume.

For now we continue to be a church in exile, a family separated by distance. But we do continue to be the church, we are still a family, we are still called to love and support each other to encourage and equip one another, to admonish and teach. We have still been made by our Lord Jesus Christ to do the good works he has prepared for us to do.

So until we gather in our buildings again (and even after we have). Let me ask, what are Gods plans for you in this season? How are you working on them with Him?

‘For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’
Ephesians 2:10


June 2020

Sunday 7th June 2020 11:53

Hello everyone,

I want to take the opportunity I have here this month to give you all a bit of an update on the current situation at church. The Leadership Team are working hard to make sure that every member of our church family is kept connected, through phone calls, WhatsApp messages, Facebook posts, daily messages on Youtube and over the phone, video calls on zoom, letter writing, carrier pigeon and semaphore as well (ok, maybe not the last two). I’d encourage everyone who has access to a computer or smart phone to find our Thought’s for the day and Sunday services, on Youtube and Facebook, if you are not already doing so. If you feel like you are missing out of contact from the church please do get in touch and we’ll do our best to remedy that. Additionally there is a small group of people available to pick up shopping or run errands for those in need so do get in touch if we can help at all.

The Leadership Team continue to meet and make decisions over video calls. Please pray that we might have the wisdom to navigate these unprecedented times and that God would guide us into the future He has for us all.

Like everyone else we await government guidance as to when and how we might be able to return to our buildings. It is becoming increasingly likely that we will not all be able to return at once but rather some of us may be able to meet whilst others are encouraged to continue to self-isolate and protect themselves. Be assured that the Leadership Team are doing our very best to put things in place to include as many people as possible, both inside the building and those who will join us over the internet, for our worship and other meetings. We will endeavour to keep you informed of our plans as and when they are made. Please be gracious with us and in following the guidance and restrictions that will be imposed.

Remember the words of Paul in Romans 8:25

if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

And let us wait patiently for God’s timing, for his plans to come to fruition. Remember too the words that came to the prophet Isaiah:

They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

May the Lord bless you during this time, may he fill you with his strength and his Spirit and may you soar with him on the wings of eagles.


April 2020

Friday 3rd April 2020 12:34

I write this at the end of two weeks of the partial lockdown due to the corona virus. By the time you read this we may be into week three, four or five of being told to stay in and save lives. I hope that we may have been told when we can return to something resembling normality. I suspect that the end to this crises, and the restrictions to try and keep us safe, is nowhere in sight.

It’s been hard for all of us, in different ways, as we have learned to live our lives differently, as we have learned to be church differently. It hard for those of us who have had our freedom restricted, it’s hard for parents trying to teach children, it’s hard for those struggling to make ends meet, it’s hard for those who live alone and cannot currently experience the touch of another person, not even a handshake or a hug. It’s hard for those who loose loved ones and cannot say goodbye properly, it’s hard for those who still have to go to work, in jobs where the pressure has increased due to staff shortages, in jobs that have changed dramatically due to restrictions.

I’m also preparing for Easter as I write. Normally the time of our biggest celebration in the church, when we remember Jesus death for us and his resurrection as he conquered death for all time. But this year, rather than the victory of the cross on Good Friday or the triumph of the resurrection on Easter Sunday, it feels more like the silence of Easter Saturday.

Easter Saturday when Jesus is dead and nothing happens. Easter Saturday as the disciples mourn and there seems to be no end in sight. Easter Saturday, after the sky has turned black but before the hope of morning. It’s not dissimilar to the time the Israelites spent wandering in the desert or the years between Testaments when God seemed to be silent, when things seemed bleak. Throughout the bible you can find examples of God’s people suffering and crying out to him, struggling to understand what is going on and why.

Sometimes in our lives we go through these times and there is something to be said for being completely honest. To stopping and asking God to be with us in the struggle, in the hardship, in the pain. To know a God who is with us in the darkest valley, who weeps and mourns with us, who suffered as we suffer. To cry out on behalf of ourselves and on behalf of others who suffer too. To cry out, knowing that we are heard, and loved and understood.

So as we endure enforced isolation, a time when everything has changed, I pray that every one of us may use this time as an opportunity to spend more time with our God. Use this opportunity to allow God to shape and transform you. Ask him to take this valley through which we walk to do a new thing with you, so that when we walk out of it we will walk out more Christ-like than before.

And remember that the story didn’t end on Easter Saturday. The light of morning did come and it bought with it a risen Lord. We may dwell in difficulty today but there is always hope for tomorrow.

Every Blessing,


COVID-19 Response

Friday 3rd April 2020 12:32

We cannot meet together at the moment but that doesn’t mean that the church is closed for business. During this time there are new ways to keep in contact with us.

• Facebook:- FB.com/PottersBarBaptist

• Twitter:- @PBarBaptistCh

• Youtube:- Potters Bar Baptist Church

• Website:- www.pbbc.org.uk

There are daily updates and messages on our Facebook page and Youtube channel and links to Sunday worship. We have also been meeting together on Zoom for times of fellowship and prayer. If you’d like us to keep in contact with you but we haven’t been in touch so far do let us know by calling 01707 651179 or emailing hello@pbbc.org.uk

Stay safe and we look forward to seeing you in the future.

Important News

Tuesday 17th March 2020 15:28

It is with deep regret that I have to tell you, following advice from the Government and the Baptist Union, that all church groups, activities and services are cancelled for the foreseeable future. Until the Government advise that it is safe to begin to meet again we will not do so.

The Leadership Team will be discussing this week ways in which we can continue to support one another practically and how we can continue to grow together in the Lord during this time. If you have any ideas that might work please do let us know. I will be in touch in the next few day to let you know what our plans are.

In the mean-time please look after yourselves and one another and continue to pray with us for the health and well-being of our nation and of the world.

Every Blessing,

Joel Mercer

March 2020

Sunday 1st March 2020 08:52

Live Lent Generously

Lent is the time in the Christian calendar between Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) and Easter. It’s 40 days during which people we remember the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert as he prepared to start his ministry. It’s 40 days when people traditionally give something up. They fast or make sacrifices in an imitation of Jesus’ own fast. I have to be honest, I’m not sure what this is supposed to achieve.

There is a discipline in fasting, in self-denial, in committing to spend time with God that is really important, drawing us into a deeper relationship with him. But I’m not sure that giving up sweets of chocolate for the 40 days of lent really helps us draw closer to God. So over the last few years I have encouraged our church family to do something different, to sign up to 40acts. This is what 40acts say about themselves:

40acts is the generosity challenge for Lent, created by UK Christian charity, Stewardship. For ten years, 40acts has asked a question: what if Lent could be about more than just giving stuff up? What if it could be a time of radical generosity as well as spiritual discipline? Over the years, 40acts has become a movement of over 100,000 people on a mission to impact their communities with generosity – during Lent and beyond.

So I want to encourage you again this year to live lent generously. You can sign up to take part in 40acts at 40acts.org.uk Alternatively you can simply commit yourself to doing something generous each day of lent, to spend these 40 days looking for opportunities to share the self-sacrificial, generous love of God with those you meet. That together we might make lent a time of giving rather than just a time of giving something up.


February 2020

Sunday 2nd February 2020 15:04

Have you ever done anything that was monumentally stupid? I have, on more than one occasion. Let me give you an example: One day, as a teenager, I was off school sick and I was bored, so I decided to start setting fire to things, I did this using a lighter in our living room. I won’t give you all the ins and outs but the story ends with my parents having a patch of burnt carpet in the hallway for the next 10 years or so. I was lucky I didn’t burn the house down. I was in quite a lot of trouble. It was pretty stupid. You see the problem I had was that I hadn’t really thought about what I was doing or why I was doing it. Often in life, if we want to avoid monumentally stupid mistakes and achieve something we need two things; we need both a plan and a purpose.

And I would humbly suggest that as we work out what our purpose is and as we make plans to achieve our purpose, we need to start with prayer. Prayer, purpose and plans. As a church these things go together. Our verse for the year this year reminds us that God made us for a purpose, to do the good works that he has prepared in advance for us to do. So as we think about our purpose, as we make plans for the future, both in the life of our church and in our own individual lives, we need to start in prayer.

Our prayer life at home and at church is really important. And there are so many opportunities to pray and be prayed for at church:

• Every Sunday morning Ignition Prayer Meeting at 10am
• Every Sunday after the service the Prayer Team are available to pray with you
• The last Thursday of each month Ignition Monthly at 8pm
• Prayer box by the front door at church; post your prayer requests and someone will pick them up and be praying
• Prayer Chain; email prayer@pbbc.org.uk with prayer needs and they will be sent to a group of people who have committed to pray.

Whilst I am on Sabbatical, from the middle of May, I am going to be encouraging the Leadership Team, and every person at PBBC, to be praying about God’s purposes. My sincere hope is that God will use that time to guide us, to show us the plans he has for us, to show us the things he has made us to do, and to help us to begin to plan for the future he has for us. So get praying, get planning, be purposeful. And try not to do anything monumentally stupid!

Every Blessing,

January 2020

Thursday 2nd January 2020 15:07

I quite enjoyed Design Technology at School. DT was mostly a mixture of wood and metal work and, crucially for me, rather than sit at desks we were scattered around the room at work benches. We’d often have to make trips back and forth to use or pick up various tools stationed along the walls. This meant that I could do something I couldn’t get away with in most of my other classes, I could wander round and chat. I enjoyed my wandering and chatting in DT so much that, when I had the choice, I choose it over other subjects for the last two years of school, knowing it would make up one of my exam grades. However in those final two years I got a new DT teacher, a short Welshman named Mr Bowen. Mr Bowen was on to me. After one memorable lesson when he threw a chisel at me to stop me roving around the room he settled on tying me to a vice each lesson to keep me in place. He also took one look at my work, the pathetic creations I had tried to make, and told me I was going to fail DT. I decided to prove him wrong, worked really hard, made a wonderful art supply box and easel (which I still have today) and ended up getting a B. I sure showed him, although maybe that was his intention from the start. Either way I ended up making something I was really quite proud of.

I don’t know if you have ever made anything. You may be far more creative than I; able to create wonderful artwork, great literature, beautiful music or useful objects without much thought or effort. But there is something about making, about constructing, about composing, that gives us a small insight into the character of God.

At Potters Bar Baptist Church our verse for the year in 2020 is from Ephesians 2:10:

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I was so proud of that art box I made, of the design, the construction, the finished product. How much more do you think that our Lord delights in you. You are his handiwork, he made you. And what’s more, he made you for a reason. God the Father created you in Christ Jesus to do great things, and by the Holy Spirit he has empowered you to do them. No-one on this planet is worthless, no-one is a mistake, each of us made by creator God with a purpose in mind.

But there is more, he is delighted with you, he’s proud of you. Even if sometimes you don’t quite manage to do all those good works that you think you should. He still loves you, you are his purposeful, wonderful, beloved creation. The handiwork of awesome, creator God.

I wonder what great things he has in store to work with you on this year. I wonder what your next steps with him are going to be.

Joel Mercer

December 2019

Saturday 30th November 2019 20:46

The nights are closing are closing in, the temperature is dropping and levels of excitement across the country and increasing. As we go into December I wonder, are you ready yet? Are you counting down the days? Have you prepared for what is to come? As colourful displays go up in people’s home I wonder if any of us can ever really be fully prepared for what is to come.

I am of course talking about the general election on the 12th December. Some of you, I suspect, are already distressed that this is two months in a row that I have been writing about politics, hoping that normal service will be resumed soon - I hope so too. But as followers of Christ I think it is important that, as we approach a general election, we reflect on how our faith might influence the way in which we vote.

I guess for most people make a decision about how they are going to vote in one of three ways:

1) I will vote the same way that I have always voted.
2) I will vote for the person I think will do the best job.
3) I will vote for the party who has the best policies.

Let me help you reflect on each of these:

1) All of the major political parties in this country have changed a lot over the last few years. Don’t just cast your vote for the party you have always voted for, they have changed and may no longer be what is best. Take a little more time to consider.
2) The bible has lots to say about the sort of people we should put our trust in. It has much to say about the sort of people we elect to Leadership positions in our churches. We might not expect a secular leader to have all the same traits as a church leader but some are certainly transferable. Truthfulness and integrity are important and trustworthiness too. See 1 Timothy 3:1-13 for more qualifications for leaders.
3) This is a little more tricky. If you have the time you could read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) which is sometimes referred to as Jesus’ manifesto for the Kingdom of God, though this may be a little difficult to compare with party policies today. However, there are some pointers throughout scripture that might be a little more help. The bible introduces us to a God who is passionate about justice, a God who commands that His people take care of the most vulnerable in society, a God who cares more about people’s wellbeing than about financial gain. If you can find a party whose policies share these values that might be a good place to start.

The decision about who to vote for is a personal one, but as Christians it should also be a godly decision. I’d encourage you all to vote, but before you do so think and pray about who to vote for, consider which individual’s and/or party’s ideals and policies most closely line up to the sort of Kingdom that Christ wants us all to work towards.

And maybe, hopefully, next year in December I can bring you a Christmas message rather than a political one.


November 2019

Friday 8th November 2019 21:10

Our country is going through a time of change. Writing, as I am, in the middle of October I have no idea what might have happened come 1st November. Will we have left the European Union? Will we be about to have a general election? Has Scotland declared independence, cut itself free from the rest of the UK and started to drift towards Scandinavia? Has the Queen reasserted the power of the monarchy and abolished parliament all together?

One thing I do know is that right now the political, social and economical divisions in this country run deep and raw. As we face this turbulent time we are disunited. Anger and accusations abound. It is hard for me to see how these wounds might even begin to be healed.

In all this the church of Christ should be able to set a good example. Shortly before his arrest Jesus prayed for all who would believe in him:

I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. John 17:20-23

As we go through testing times as a church it is our calling, our duty, to stand united. To love each other even as God has loved us. To support and care for each other, even when we have been hurt. To look to one another’s needs, even when times are hard. To move forward together even when we disagree with each other. This isn’t always easy but it is part of being the family of God.

If you are not sure you can do it; be united with your brothers and sisters in the church, even when they have hurt you, even when you don’t agree with their decisions or the things they do, if you don’t know how to do it, let me give you some advice. Start with prayer. Pray for the members of your church family, particularly those you find it hard to get on with. Pray for them each day. Pray that God might hep you to see them as he does, to love them as he does.

Because if the church is united it will help us get through troublesome and turbulent times. And if the church is united, and we love one another, we can set an example for our whole nation as to how we might move forward together, whatever may come.

Joel Mercer

October 2019

Sunday 29th September 2019 13:39

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27

In the coming days at Potters Bar Baptist Church we are going to be embarking on some improvements to our buildings: We are going to have a new, more efficient, heating system in the church, a new stage with disabled access that better meets our current needs and some new toilets, including a new disabled toilet. It’s going to be quite a lot of work and will undoubtedly cause us some disruption. So I wanted to share a bit about why were are doing it.

God has been speaking to us, over a few years, about hospitality and welcome. He has challenged us to open the church up as regularly as we can and to invite in all he will send to us. God has told us to welcome the stranger, to care for those he sends to be inclusive of all types of people. And that is what these works are about. They are about making the church environment welcoming, particularly to those with additional needs. They are about being inclusive, so that everyone is able to get on the stage and join in. They are about being hospitable to those that God is calling us to love.

This is why I started with the parable of the wise a foolish builders. Any project we start for our own reasons is doomed to fail, like a house built on the sand. But when the things we do are a response to Jesus, those are the things that last.

So please bear with us as the projects start. We don’t think we will have to cancel anything but you may find that you arrive at church and end up in a different room to where you expected to be. Please be patient, ask questions about what is happening. And please continue to pray with us that God would be in the details of the changes we make, that he hand would be over the work, and that he would continue to guide us into the future.

Joel Mercer

September 2019

Sunday 1st September 2019 08:43

Corrie Ten Boom once asked the question - Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tyre?

It’s an important question. A steering wheel is integral to the car, it’s what dictates which direction the whole vehicle is moving in. A spare tyre on the other hand only comes out in an emergency, when something has gone wrong. I wonder which of these is closest to they way we pray. Is prayer reserved for when things go wrong, do we come to God just to speak to him about problems, our own or other people’s? Or is prayer and integral part of our life together as God’s people, is it the steering wheel that guides every part of our lives?

It’s pretty obvious which it should be, and in many ways Potters Bar Baptist Church is already guided by prayer. We meet together at 10am every Sunday to pray together, at 8pm on the last Thursday of each month, our small groups pray for and with each other week by week. We have a prayer box and a monthly prayer guide and every year we set aside time for a week of prayer where we particularly seek God for the continued life of our church, to see where he would have us steer next. But we could do better, the bible tells us to pray without ceasing, in all circumstances, as God’s people the foundation of all our decisions and actions should be prayer, communicating with Father God, seeking him. We should be praying for guidance, for healing, for our nation and our world, that our church would grow and that we would see people to come faith.

And so as a church family we are going to try to be a little better, a little more intentional, a little more organised and more regular in our prayer. On Sunday mornings in September this means that we will be thinking about what God has said to us over out last three weeks of prayer. It also means that in the near future we hope to launch a Prayer Ministry Team. This team will be a small group of people with the job of getting us all praying. If you’d be interested in being part of such a team please see Joel or Pamela Llewellyn. But for all of us the challenge is clear, to pray more, to pray without ceasing and to expect God to move in power as we pray, that we might know his will for us, that we might see the sick healed, that we might see people come to faith, that we might experience the Holy Spirit of God moving among us.

Pray without ceasing, pray with expectation.


June 2019

Thursday 30th May 2019 16:20

As I write this we are in between two of the significant events which take place in the life of our church each spring-time. We have just celebrated our 231st Birthday and in the coming weeks we will be joining with many other people in our town to take part in Potters Bar Carnival.

Both of these events involve us forgoing our usual worship services. For our birthday party we cancelled our evening service and for the carnival on the 9th June we will cancel both services. Worshipping God together is one of the most important things that we can do as human beings but I make no apologies for sacrificing our worship service for these events. I’d like to tell you why.

Both the carnival and our birthday party give us an opportunity that we do not have most Sundays, it is an opportunity to engage with people who are unlikely to come along to one of our services, or to invite people that we would otherwise be reluctant to invite to church. These events give us the opportunity to re-connect with people who attend groups during the week, those who have been part of the life of the church in the past and some people who have never had contact with the church before. The aim is not to tell everyone we meet the gospel and expect hundreds to come to know Jesus for themselves, though I’d be delighted if that were to happen. The aim is to establish and maintain relationships with people in our town who do not yet know Jesus. The aim is to share a little bit of the good news of his love in word and action. The aim is to draw people nearer to God, if only by a little bit. The hope is that we sow seeds and tend some of those we have sown in the past. The intention is that we keep praying that the Holy Spirit would be at work helping those seeds to grow and that one day we may see the fruit of them.

The truth is that we spend fifty Sundays a year in our church with the doors closed and that Jesus command for his disciples was to ‘Go’ so on our anniversary we fling open the doors of the church and invite everyone to join us for a party. On carnival day we go to where the people of our town are. In both these things I believe that we are being obedient to Christ.

I’d like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to those who organised and helped make our anniversary party such a success, and to those who are in the midst of planning our stall at the carnival. I’d also like to encourage you to come along to the carnival and help us as we share the love of God with the people of Potters Bar.

Joel Mercer

Sunday 12th May 2019 15:18

May 2019

Saturday 4th May 2019 16:49

The UK has a great and noble tradition of electing it’s leaders. It also has a great tradition of not taking things too seriously. In the 2017 general election our Prime Minister Theresa May ran against, among others, Elmo from sesame street and Lord Buckethead). Indeed Lord Buckethead continues his political career and has committed to running against Nigel Farage in the upcoming European elections.

May is election season at Potters Bar Baptist Church as well. And I’m not talking about the local council elections or the EU elections for which we will serve as a polling station. I’m talking about our Leadership Team. At our AGM at the end of May we will be voting on appointing leaders. If you are a Church Member you will hopefully be part of that process, even if you are not a Church Member (and if you are not, or not sure please speak to one of our leaders about it) we’d like you to be involved.

Here is what I want you to do:

Firstly and most importantly, pray. Pray that God would raise up new people to help lead us into the future he has planned. Pray that God would give our current leaders and our Members wisdom as we nominate and vote.

Secondly help us identify who God might be calling to lead. Who is ‘full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit’ as Acts 6 suggests that our leaders should be. Why not ask them if they could prayerfully consider being part of our Leadership Team.

Thirdly, talk to one another, and God about who he is calling to lead. Help each other discern who God is calling. When you hear him speak, and you are a member, get a nomination form from Viv or Joel.

Fourthly, pray some more.

A Godly, effective Leadership Team can help our church to grow in many ways. So Let’s think and talk and pray about who might be part of such a team.

Praying for our nation, government and MPs

Saturday 4th May 2019 16:47

If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. Mark 3:24-25

As Brexit negotiations continue and the way forward remains unclear, we pray for our nation, and for our government, MPs, and parliamentary processes, trusting in the peace of God that passes all human understanding.

As Baptists Together we continue to call our churches to be people of peace and prayer. The discussions around leaving the EU have shown us that we are far from a united kingdom, and have themselves deepened many of those divides. As churches we too speak from different geographical places and political spaces. We are made up of leavers, remainers and abstainers, British nationals, EU residents and global immigrants. We are a mix of generations. We are divided in our views on Brexit.

Yet this position is also part of our prophetic witness: we know that the love of God is stronger than what separates us. We know that our worldly divisions do not need to stop us working together and listening to those who are other, voiceless or ignored. Instead we follow the command of Christ to welcome the stranger, love our neighbours and bless our enemies. So let’s commit to being people of reconciliation and hope, shaping our communities with compassion and kindness.

Lord God,
During this time of national uncertainty,
we pray for wisdom for our government, Prime Minister, MPs and parliamentary staff.
We lift to you all those who are anxious for change
and those who are fearful for the future.
May you heal our divisions and our disillusionment;
uniting us in the call of Christ,
to be people who work for your peace,
and live in your love.
Amen. From www.baptist.org.uk

Holy Week

Monday 15th April 2019 19:39

Our Prayer Labyrinth will be up and running again from Thursday. It’s open Thursday 9am-7pm, Friday 11am-5pm and Sunday 11:45am-1pm. Do try and come by for what I hope will be a profound experience.

Maundy Thursday Meal - 7:15 on Thursday. Please let Joel know if you have any special dietary needs.

Walk of Witness. Friday meeting at 9:15am at St. Marys. Walking back to PBBC for a short service and refreshments.

Easter Sunday Services. All age service and communion at 10:30am, Reflective Easter Sunday worship at 6pm.

Easter Monday Picnic. Meet by the path in Trent Park from 10:30am - games, good company and bring your own picnic. We’ll meet at church instead if weather if terrible!

April 2019

Saturday 23rd March 2019 17:00

What makes a family? I’m not asking you to tell me where babies come from, I know all about the storks, I’ve watched Dumbo more than once. Instead I’m asking what makes a family feel like a family. I guess that we all have different experiences of our own families, some good and some bad, but whatever our own experience is we instinctively know that a family should be a place of love. They say that friends are the family you choose. I guess this means that the people who are closest to us, those who love and care for us, who share our triumphs and failure, those are the ones who feel like family.

The bible suggests that our churches should be like this. John 1:12 says that all who have received Jesus, who believe in his name, have been given the right to become children of God. As Christians we are adopted into a heavenly family; sisters and brothers in Christ. This is a wonderful privilege, but can also become a bit of a pain. You see just like any other family someones the church functions really well and sometimes it fails dramatically. Sometimes the church is a place of love and nurture, encouragement and care, and sometimes it can become a battle ground, with different people trying to get their own way, unable or unwilling to see other people’s points of view. Just like any family there are challenges, but we are called by God to love and care for each other. We are called by God to be, not just a good family, but the model family. Other people should look at us and think ‘Oh, that’s how a family is supposed to be.’

I don’t know what goes on in your house but in our house the most important part of the day for me is dinner time. Partly because I love food, but mostly because it’s the one time I know when all four of us will be sat round the table, together, for an extended period of time, with no TV or video games. Dinner time is family time. We make a point of sharing the best parts of each of our days, we talk about what has been happening and what might be happening in the coming days. Dinner time is the time we really get to know each other. This is incredibly precious to me, it helps our love for each other to grow, it strengthens us as a family.

And so I’d like to humbly suggest that as the family of God we need to share more meals together. We’ve made a start on this at church, sharing meals to celebrate dedications and birthdays, and there are more celebrations to come this year. But we can do it on a small scale too. 2019 is our year of hospitality and I want to encourage you, share meals with each other, in your homes, in restaurants or picnics in the park. Invite others and accept invitations. In this way our church family will grow in our love of one another, will grow into the sort of family that God designed his church to be. In this way we will get to know each other better, in this way all people might see what kind of God we worship - a God who has adopted us and forged us into the best family that there has ever been.

Thursday 14th March 2019 15:20

March 2019

Wednesday 27th February 2019 07:43


I don’t know if you have ever been climbing; up a climbing wall, a cliff face, mountain or even on a high ropes adventure, but if you have you will know the truth of the statement ‘Whatever goes up must come down.’ Personally I am in two minds about climbing, on the one had I enjoy the climb itself, the physical challenge, the puzzle of getting the right body parts in the right places to be able to move on, but I’m also not very good with heights. For me the biggest challenge of these sorts of activities isn’t the climbing but the coming down. Often these sorts of adventures end with a jump onto a huge crash mat, stepping over the edge of the cliff with only the rope to hold you or whizzing down a zip-line. In one sense this downward journey is easy, all you have to do it jump, but for me it’s the hardest part as knowing what I have to do and doing it are different things.

Sometimes knowing what we should do and actually being able to do it are two very different things. As Christians we all know some of the things we should do. Love one another, an our enemies, be kind and compassionate, forgive and be generous. But actually doing all of that is hard, in part because we do not know where to start. I know I need to be generous but how do I go about it? Who should I be generous too? Sometimes what I think we need are some step by step instruction to get us started.

That is where 40Acts comes in. This year at Potters Bar Baptist Church we’ll be participating in 40Acts, joining with many other Christians during lent to try and engage in a simple act of generosity each day. Our sermons during this time will be about it, our small groups will talk about it, and I hope many of us will do it.

Each day there is a challenge, and each day there are three different ways you could go about completing it, some more difficult that others. Let me give you an example from a couple of years ago:

Alright. Some of us are clean freaks. Others prefer to live in organised chaos. One thing we can all agree on, though, is that our communities feel like nicer places when they're litter-free. It's better for the environment, and easier on the eye. Roll your sleeves up and make your world cleaner today.

Green: If you're not heading out today, or you only have half an hour, why not offer to do the chores for someone else in your house – a family member, or a house-mate perhaps. It might feel a bit awkward to ask your neighbour if they need anything cleaned up, but if you share a communal area, start there.

Amber: Grab some rubber gloves and a bin bag, and hit the streets for a community clean-up. If you want to get really fancy, you could even use separate bags for plastics and paper, and drop them off at your local recycling point when you're done.

Red: Remember that circle of friends you contacted yesterday? Well, today's your first chance to plan a get-together for a cause. Organise a cleaning party – perhaps you'll all get together to litter-pick, or clean off some graffiti, or repaint a community area that's looking a little tired (you might need permission from your local authority first). Put a date in the diary and start planning!

To find out more about 40Acts, or to sign up, go to: 40acts.org.uk and click on ‘Get Started’ If you’d like to participate but don’t have email do come and speak to me and we can get something arranged.

Every Blessing

February 2019

Thursday 31st January 2019 20:16

I was watching Call the Midwife this week. Actually, for the sake of accuracy, Vicki was watching Call the Midwife whilst I was looking at my phone. But I did start to think about the BBC drama, set in 1960s that does something very rare on our televisions. It tells us a story from the perspective of a group of women. Actually it does more than that, it tells us stories about women from the perspective of women. At various times in its 8 series run it has dealt with issues of race, injustice, mental health, addiction, abuse and most importantly the proper place of men during child birth. All of these have been told to us through the eyes of it’s female cast. The men, in call the mid-wife, are supporting actors, there to support or cause controversy as required, rarely central to the story. It’s remarkable really, considering the fact that more than half the people in our country are female, that TV programs like this are so rare.

This kind of imbalance is also true of scripture. The stories are predominantly told by men about the activities of men. All this, I guess, is to be expected. The biblical culture, and our own in the UK for most of history, is male dominated, decidedly unequal. This is why I think shows like Call the Midwife are so precious, so important, to make sure that history, even recent history, is not all one sided.

In January we were privileged to have Jane Edwards from BMS come to speak to us about the work she does as a lawyer in Mozambique. She told us the story of a lady named Lydia and opened up to us the book of Ruth. If you were not able to be at that service do try and listen to it on our website, it was on the 13th January. Ruth is like Call the Midwife, it tells the story of two women from their own perspective. It is a story of faithfulness, courage and compassion, of God working in the lives of his people.

It is too easy, I think, to read our history books and assume that the things that the white, powerful men did and said were all that was important. It is too easy sometimes to read the bible and conclude that God only speaks to and interacts with the Jewish men, that they are all that mattered. But we also need to find ears to listen to those others who society has been reluctant to give a voice. We need to listen and see the way in which God is at work in the lives of the powerless and minority. We need to open our eyes and ears to listen and see what we can learn from those whose voices may seem the quietest, both in scripture and in the world around us. Because our God is the God of all people, who loves all people, not just those with the ability to write or the power to have things written about them. And maybe part of our job as God’s people is not just to hear the quietest members of our society and our world, but also to help amplify their voices for others to hear.

Joel Mercer

January 2019

Sunday 30th December 2018 08:43

‘All of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and be humble’ 1 Peter 3:8

As we start 2019 at Potters Bar Baptist Church this verse from 1 Peter 3 is to be our guide. Being a Christian isn’t just about what we believe, it’s about how we act. Being a follower of Jesus isn’t just about turning up to church once or twice a week, it’s about every moment of our lives. Belonging to Christ is about living as he lived, being compassionate to those in distress, putting others before ourselves, not judging one another but being sympathetic to the plight of those in need. It means being humble, always putting others first, and rejoicing in the fact that others in our church family will put us first. It means being like-minded; not all thinking the same thing in the same way, but all of us turning our minds to the same goal, to see God’s Kingdom come.

This sort of care for one another starts at home and spreads out into the world. One of the wonderful things about being part of a church family is that we all have a place in which to practice being Christ-like. This year we want to make sure that our care for each other and our welcome to new people in second to none. So this year in Potters Bar Baptist Church the Leaders are declaring a year of hospitality.

Have you ever noticed that in the bible many of the most important moments seem to revolve around meals? Abraham hosting angels, Joseph eating with the brothers who had sold him, the passover as the Israelite prepared to leave slavery behind. Banquets and feasts abound, Jesus seemed to do some of his best work with food or drink in his hands; significantly the supper in that upper room that we continue to celebrate today. Biblical images of our eternal home sometimes describe it as a great feast.

There is a good reason for this. It’s amazing how well you can get to know someone over a shared meal or even just a cup of tea. In these circumstances we can express the love of God to one another in a way that just cannot be done in the few moments we have to chat on a Sunday after the service. This is the way in which we build significant relationships. Relationships among God’s people that help support and care for us and enable us to know his love, and relationships with those who do not yet know our Lord in which we can let him shine out through us.

So in our year of hospitality we are committing to eating more together, to sharing refreshments more together. We’ll be encouraging all of our church family to consider inviting others for a meal or a coffee, either in your own home or out somewhere, or even to meet up over a cuppa at church. We’ll be having a few more meals together in church too and we’ll all be making an effort to find time to say yes to the invitations of others.

I look forward to seeing and hearing of the blessings that God is going to pour out on us all in 2019.


December 2018

Sunday 2nd December 2018 16:27

Thankful, but for how long?

We have inherited a lot of things from our neighbours over the Atlantic Ocean, many of those things they first inherited form us but have delivered back with a particularly American twist. Take Halloween for example, its started in Europe more than a thousand years ago as the even of All Hallows Day. It’s relevance, certainly in this country, had dwindled by the end of the last century until it came back to us repackaged, not as part of a religious festival but as an excuse to get dressed up and consume vast amounts of sweets. Similar stories could be told of Mothers Day or even Christmas, but one holiday we haven’t yet adopted seems to be Thanksgiving. Our own harvest festivals have a very different flavour.

In the US thanksgiving is a time when families come together to eat turkey and celebrate. The celebration originates in both ideas of harvest and of thanks for a new land of safety in which the pilgrims found themselves. It is a time to reflect on those things each person has to be thankful for, to count ones blessings, and for many people, to praise God. We might not have adopted thanksgiving in the UK, but somehow we have managed to adopt what comes afterwards.

The day after thanksgiving in the US is what’s called ‘Black Friday’ the biggest shopping day of the year. Shops everywhere make a fuss about deals too good to miss, even though most of those items can be bought cheaper at other times. And black Friday is something that has definitely found its way to our shores, including fist-fights breaking out in supermarkets over electrical goods.

What makes me sad about the whole thing is that transition from being thankful for what we have on a Thursday to being willing to harm others for a slightly newer TV on a Friday. Our thankfulness and contentment doesn’t seem to last very long does it? Especially as we make our Christmas lists and look for suitable presents for others.

So, in the build up to Christmas this year let me encourage you. Take time to be thankful. Remember we are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 that God’s will for us is that we give thanks. Think less about what you will buy (either for yourself or your loved ones) and more about those things you are already blessed with. Maybe think about how you can make the most of the blessings you already have.

Every Blessing,

November 2018

Friday 2nd November 2018 17:33

Loving and being loved

In Matthew 22 we find Jesus issuing the greatest commandments. ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ And ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ Did you every wonder why we have to do both these things? Isn’t enough just to love God?

Part of the reason is that, as the people of God, we are called to show others His love. This means that they way others in this world will know that God loves them is by us, His people, loving them, being kind to them, showing them compassion and caring for their needs. Again you may well ask the question; why is this my Job? Why can’t God just show his love for everyone directly?

To find the answers we need to go back to Genesis 1 where we are told that God created human beings in his image. Now being made in the image of God isn’t so much about the way we look as it is about the way we act and particularly the way relate to God, one-another and all of creation. The story of sin is the story of broken relationships. Our relationship with God broken by our disobedience, our relationships with each other broken by deceit, distrust and neglect, our relationship with all of creation damaged by our selfish ambition.

God in His wisdom has a plan to deal with all of this. He sent Jesus to break the power of sin which has caused our relationships to falter, and He calls those of us who belong to him to love others. This is always the way God has chosen to work. From when he first called Abraham God promised to bless him so that Abraham could in turn be a blessing to others. The reason that God call us to share his love with others is that this process not only restores people’s relationship with God, it also restores our relationships with each other.

Think of it like this: Imagine a father has two children, Bob and Betty, and a big bag of sweets.

If he gives the big bag of sweets to Betty it might make her feel happy and loved, it might encourage her to love her Father more too. But how will Bob feel? Upset with his Father and jealous of Betty.

What if instead the Father gives half the sweets to Bob an half to Betty? Surely then they will both be encouraged to love their Father, and know that he loves them. But will it help how they feel about each other? Probably not.

So then what if the Father gives Betty the big bag of sweets and ask her to take it and share it with Bob. How will they now feel about their Father? How will they feel about each other?

This is how God chooses to work with us. He calls his people to love others, to share what He has blessed us with with others. He works this way so that we all might love him, but so that we can love each other as well. Just as he created us to.

The above are some thoughts adapted from a message I preached at PBBC on 14th October. If you missed it you can listen to it on our website www.pbbc.org.uk

Joel Mercer

October 2018

Monday 1st October 2018 08:02

Caring for Creation

At PBBC we will start October with our harvest celebration. Although we are but a small hop from the M25 and greater London the cycles of rural life do not pass by completely unnoticed in the Mercer household. In addition to the small number of vegetables we try to grow (with mixed success) in our own garden, the manse looks over a hard working field of crops. This means that we can watch the tractor when it’s time for sowing, we hear the combine harvester at harvest time, and when it’s time for muck to be spread the car gets mucky!

I guess many of us feel a little detached from the natural rhythms of the earth. We can get the fruit and veg we want all year round as our supermarkets ship more and more produce from abroad. But whilst we may feel detached from nature we should never forget our God-given duty to care for it. Romans 8:18-21 speaks of the hope of all of creation that there will be liberation from bondage and decay. Mark 16:15 tells us to proclaim the good news to all creation. The Good news of God’s kingdom is not just about spiritual renewal for people. It’s about a renewal for all that God has made. God cares about this world of his and every living creature in it and as his ambassadors it’s important that we model that care.

The sad truth is that humans have abused creation. We have destroyed creature’s habitats in order that we can live slightly more comfortable lives. Climate change is real and it’s impact will become more and more clear in the coming years. It will not be long before drought conditions in vast parts of Africa mean that it will be impossible for people to continue to live there. As God’s people we need to do better at caring.

In the face of such a bleak future it’s easy for us to feel overwhelmed, like there is nothing that we can do to make a difference. So we do nothing. But there are things we can do. We can switch our energy provider to one that uses 100% renewable energy. We can be conscious of emissions next time we go to buy a car. We can write letters to our MPs urging them to make decisions that take into account our responsibility to care for our planet. If you are online you can find some more ideas in the summer edition of the Baptist Together magazine which can be found here:


Caring for the world is an important part of God’s intentions for us. How can we, as his people in Potters Bar Baptist Church, be an example to others?

Joel Mercer

September 2018

Monday 3rd September 2018 16:47

‘Can God create a stone that is too heavy for Him to lift?’

I wonder if anyone has ever asked you this question. People have asked me from time to time, usually trying to catch me out, to prove that an all-powerful God who can do anything can’t possibly exist. Of course the question itself is nonsense, my response is usually ‘Why would God want to?’ This question might leave us with what is sometimes called a paradox. The dictionary defines a paradox like this:

‘A situation or statement that seems impossible or is difficult to understand because it contains two opposite facts or characteristics.’

Now the paradox at the top of this page is a bit of nonsense, a thought experiment. It’s not really very meaningful. But our faith is full of all sorts of other paradoxes, seeming contradictions, things that are difficult to understand. These real paradoxes of faith are important to those of us who choose to follow Jesus, in exploring the difficult questions, in probing into the areas of our faith that seem to make no sense, in wrestling with scripture and seeking God we come to a deeper and more profound connection with him. We might not get answers to some of our questions in this life. There will certainly still be things about God and our faith that we do not understand but the process of seeking God in the tough times, of trying to understand the difficult bits lead us into a deeper relationship with the living God.

Over the coming months, on Sunday mornings at our 10:30 services we are going to be thinking about some of the paradoxes, the difficult to understand aspects of our faith. Come along to hear more about things like Predestination and Free will, God’s speaking even when he is silent, and a God who is so close to us and yet seems so far away. If you can’t make a Sunday morning all our messages are also available to listen to on our website.


July 2018

Sunday 8th July 2018 08:54

A biblical justification for anything

As I write the news is full of the situation on the border between the USA and Mexico. Children have been separated from their parents and put into cages and people in power have used the bible to justify it. This is a travesty, and the outcry has been so large, from people of all faiths and none, that the US has already changed its policy to something that is marginally better. It is easy to pluck passages out of the bible, and out of context, to defend all sorts of things:

Bigamy: [When a man] marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights (Ex 21:10)

Slavery: You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. (Lev 25:45)

Killing rebellious children: If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him […]Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. (Duet 21:18,21)

But the reality is, when you take these verses in the context of the whole of scripture, when we understand the reasons behind some of these laws, a different message is formed. And when it comes to the way in which we treat foreign people, be they migrants, refugees or holiday-makers, we would do well to look at the whole of scripture. Here are some verses, all from different places that I think help us better understand the biblical principles:

Ex 23:9 Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.

Mal 3:5 So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against … [those who] deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,’ says the Lord Almighty.

Heb 13:2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.

We remember that the Israelites were refugees, that Ruth and Naomi sought kindness in foreign places. We think of God protecting Ester and her people in a land not their own. Time and again in the bible kindness to the stranger, to the foreigner is applauded and those who would turn away others in need are denounced. We should remember too that Mary and Joseph themselves were refugees in Egypt.

It’s easy to misuse scripture to make a point. But for those of us who know the heart of God it’s important that we stand up for the things that his word tells us are important. Maybe we can say what is happening in the USA is nothing to do with us, we don’t vote in American elections. But it wasn’t so long ago that our own government was likening human beings in need to a swarm of insects.

We, as God’s people, are called to stand up for justice, to care for those in need, to welcome strangers and foreigners. What can you do to make that happen? How might it influence the way you engage with individuals and with national politics?

Joel Mercer

June 2018

Wednesday 30th May 2018 22:46

Last month at Potters Bar Baptist Church we had our AGM. Among other things an AGM is an opportunity to give thanks to God for the things that have happened over the past year and the chance to look forward to what his plans for us might be in the coming year and years. I wanted to take the opportunity this month to share with you a little of what I said on that evening:

Ezekiel 47 speaks of water flowing out of the temple, this vision was something that our Leadership team spoke about at our away-day last year. The image of a trickle of life giving water flowing out from the house of God and growing and bringing new and abundant life wherever it flows is a captivating one. The water flows to the dead sea and make salty water fresh, it allows creature to dwell and thrive in a place that had previously been barren.

This, I think is part of what God is calling us to as a church. Our desire to be open and welcoming is part of God’s calling for his people, his church, to be a source of the life-giving water that flows from him. I guess the question for us in the coming year, in the coming years, is what can we do to bring life to our neighbours, our town, our nation, our world.

That seems like a huge task doesn’t it? Bigger than maybe we can process. So let me tell you how I think we need to go about it. In Matthew 14 Peter does something amazing, he steps out of the boat and walks on water, and even when he falters Christ lifts him up so he doesn’t sink. All Peter needed, when he walked on water, was the desire to be where Christ was and to trust that Jesus would help him get there.

This is true for us to. If we want to be that conduit of the live-giving water that our God offers to this world we need to step out of the boat and go to where Jesus is. We need to want to be where Jesus is, involved in what he is doing, and we need to be willing to take the risk of stepping out in Faith, trusting in him.

And what do I believe God is calling us into? My prayer for our church is this:

In the years to come I pray that we will find more ways to make these buildings open more often, and accessible to more people. I pray that we might be able to meet the needs of the most needy, and to partner with those who have much to share. I pray that God would continue to guide us as we grow closer to him and closer to one another. And I pray that we might draw others who do not yet know him into that closeness as well.

Please continue to pray with me that as Christ calls us out of the boat that we will have the faith to join him.

Joel Mercer

Data Protection

Tuesday 1st May 2018 21:54

You may be aware that Data Protection laws are changing. This means that companies, charities and organisations have to make changes to the way they collect and manage information about people. This is true for churches too.

So what follows is a legal privacy notice from Potters Bar Baptist Church about the way in which we collect and store personal information. If you are part of our envelope giving scheme or have signed up to gift aid here there will be a separate notice issued.

In the coming days we will be asking everyone who is part of our church family, or connected to us, to fill in a new contact form, just to make sure we are both up to date and legally compliant. But for now please read on to see how we will use and store and information we have about you.

May 2018

Tuesday 1st May 2018 21:51

There is a lot happening in May
So much I don’t know what to say
Hardly any time to just run and play
There is a lot happening in May

There is a lot happening in May
Opportunities to come and pray
Celebrations, shout hooray
There is a lot happening in May

There is a lot happening in May
It’s time to phone your friends and say
Come to church, come today
There is a lot happening in May

There is a lot happening in May
Without your support there is no way
We’ll get it done and so I pray
For help with all that’s happening in May (and June)

This month there are all sorts of exciting things happening in the life of our church. We are joining with the other churches in Potters Bar for the ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ prayer initiative (details at www.thykingdomcome.global ) with events for this on Saturday 5th, Saturday 12 and Saturday 19th. We will also be celebrating our church anniversary on Sunday 20th. On top of this we have our church AGM on the 17th and all the normal groups and activates that go on every week, including a new Bumps and Babies group on Tuesday mornings. Add to all that the preparations for Potters Bar Carnival on the 10th June and we have a very busy period coming up.

We want to use all these things to encourage one another and invite others into church. So please keep an eye out for more details and start to think whether you may be able to help at one or more of these events. My prayer is that in the coming days we might really see a glimpse of the coming Kingdom of God as we meet together and invite others to come.

April 2018

Sunday 1st April 2018 13:30

I’m a bit of a fan of superhero movies. I love the action, I love the incredibility of it all, I like to think about what I would do with superpowers and I really like to watch things where the good guys wins in the end. And one of the things that you always get in superhero films is an origin story: Whether it’s Peter Parker getting bitten by a radioactive spider and Uncle Ben telling him ‘With great power comes great responsibility’, or Superman being put in the worlds smallest spaceship to fly from Krypton to Kansas, these films love to show us how it all started.

I wonder why that is. Is it because that is a particularly compelling part of the story? Is it because it’s important for us all to know how the story stared? Maybe, it could be those things I guess but I also think there is another factor. I think we get the origin stories of all our superheroes because we like to know that these amazing people have come from quite ordinary beginnings. Spiderman started off as just a quite ordinary student, Superman was a helpless infant, Ironman was dying of an incurable heart problem. Even when our superheroes are incredibly wealthy or born with powers, they start off vulnerable, in some way ordinary and in need.

Starting in April this year, on Sunday mornings, we are going to be studying part of the book of Acts. The book of Act’s is like the origin story for the church. And as we will find out, the church in may ways starts out vulnerable and ordinary. Acts doesn’t paint a picture of a perfect church where everyone knows what they should do and just gets on with doing it. We find here a church trying to discover what on earth it means to follow Jesus, people make mistakes, they disagree, and they have to seek reconciliation and forgiveness. But in all this there are lessons for us to learn, things not to do as well as things to do. I hope that in the course of our studies we will learn much about what it really means for us to be a church that let’s our good deeds shine for all to see.

The reason Acts makes me think of superheroes is not just because or origin stories, it’s because it’s all about the birth of the church and the church was born to be super. The church was born to be incredible, it was designed to be amazing, it was made to reflect the light of God to the whole world. My prayer for us as a church is that we would continue to grow and act in such a way that our light shines, that we are super, that through our partnership with Christ we might see people saved.

I hope you can tell that I’m looking forward to studying Acts together. I hope you are too.

Joel Mercer

Thursday 22nd March 2018 21:36

Thursday 22nd March 2018 21:35

March 2018

Wednesday 28th February 2018 15:51

Live Lent Generously

It can be hard to be generous. The hardest thing I have done this week (and this is a week that included being woken up three times in one night to change a child’s sick covered bed sheets) was to give a box of chocolates to the admin staff at Oakmere Primary School. Why was that so hard? I didn’t know how to do it, what to say. Being generous has become so strange that we need a good explanation for why we’re doing it. I kept trying to think of the right way to go about it. In the end it went something like this:

Me: I Just came to bring these. [hands over chocolates]
Receptionist: Are they for anyone in particular?
Me: No.
Receptionist: Are they for any particular reason?
Me: No.
Receptionist: Thank-you.
Me: No Problem. [Exits hurriedly]

Trust me it was harder than it sounds. Generosity is so alien to our culture. We might be generous to our friends or family but to give without expecting anything in return to people we barely know, or don’t know at all, is hard, and sometimes treated with suspicion. But it’s also great. As I left the school office I could see smiles on the faces of the two or three members of staff I left in my wake, and even now thinking about it puts a smile on my face. The book of James talks about this feeling, James 1:22-25 talks about living according to the standards set in the bible it says that those who do this ‘will be blessed in what they do.’ Generosity is it’s own reward.

Our verse for 2018 encourages us to let our good deeds shine for all to see. On Sunday mornings Joel has been encouraging us to use the lent period, which continues until Easter at the end of March, to be generous. You can do this by buying things for people, but it doesn’t take money to be generous. You could give up some of you time for someone else, to spend time with them or do a job for them, you could give your expertise. If, like me, you already have more stuff than you really need you could be generous with that.

The good news of Jesus Christ is generous; it is about giving. Because of his great love He gave himself for us. We too are called to be generous, so that our good deeds might reflect his love. So let’s live lent generously this year.

If you want some great ideas for how to be more generous this lent why not sign up to 40acts. Go to www.40acts.org.uk for more details.


February 2018

Wednesday 31st January 2018 08:01


Some months ago, in my usual article I wrote about how God had been speaking to us about what sort of church he wants us to be. I wrote about how he was emphasising the importance of our welcome and the need for us to be open and present to welcome people as often as possible. Since then we have continued to pray about how we might do this and last month our Church Members made a decision to look in to the possibility of some quite significant changes to our premises.

The areas we are thinking about changing include the stage area of the church, our kitchen and toilet facilities and even a possible extension to the front of the building. At the moment we don’t know what will happen with any of these things so we would ask that you continue to pray with us about them even as we begin to speak to experts about what the next steps might be.

In our discussions about this one of our church members reminded us that it is not the building that welcomes people, it is those of us who are already here. Any changes we make to the premises might help facilitate our ability to invite people in and walk alongside them but only if we are here to meet them.

In the temple in Matthew 21 Jesus quotes a passage from Isaiah where God declares that ‘my house will be called a house of prayer for all people.’ And this is what God is calling us to, to be a place where all people can come and find God. Where they can come and find God’s people ready and willing to chat to them, pray with them, show them love and compassion and journey with them.

So please continue to pray with us about what the future of our church might hold. Remember when you are here to make an extra effort to make this a place of welcome to all who come. And there is one more thing. We would love for the church to be open more often; initially we’d like to be open every weekday morning for people to come in. At the moment we are open on Monday and Friday mornings already, if you think you might be able to help us with this one morning a week please speak to Joel. Or if you want to know more of what it involves ask Linda who runs coffee morning on a Friday.

I’m looking forward to meeting the people that God is going to send us and sharing His love with them. I hope you are too.


February 2018

Wednesday 31st January 2018 07:58

It’s 2018! I hope that isn’t too much of a shock to you, I guess for many of us each year seems to pass by more quickly until we look back and wonder where the time went. For Potters Bar Baptist Church a New Year means a new Verse for the Year and a shift in our focus.

We spent last year thinking about why we meet together and what we should be doing when we gather as God’s people. We thought about how important it is to share our gifts with one another and to encourage each other. Our verse last year told us to spur one another on to love and good works. And it’s from this idea; part of our purpose as a church being to help one another to love more deeply and do good things for others, that our verse for 2018 comes:

‘Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.’ Matthew 5:16

During our prayer time and discussions over the last year God has been speaking to us about being a place of welcome and comfort for all, he has been speaking to us about being a light, a lighthouse, shinning in the darkness drawing others in to safety, comfort and salvation. And so this year, as we continue to think and pray about how we can best achieve God plans for us, as we endeavour to work with him to make his community in this neighbours, I want to encourage every one of you to shine.

Just as Jesus, light of the world, came into the darkness we too are called to go out and shine into the dark places. Do good things, be compassionate, be caring, offer a listening ear or a helpful hand, love others in word and in action. This year may Potters Bar Baptist Church be like a city on a hill, blazing with light for all to see. And so, through all that you do and say this year, may God be praised.

Joel Mercer

January 2018

Wednesday 27th December 2017 10:43

It’s 2018! I hope that isn’t too much of a shock to you, I guess for many of us each year seems to pass by more quickly until we look back and wonder where the time went. For Potters Bar Baptist Church a New Year means a new Verse for the Year and a shift in our focus.

We spent last year thinking about why we meet together and what we should be doing when we gather as God’s people. We thought about how important it is to share our gifts with one another and to encourage each other. Our verse last year told us to spur one another on to love and good works. And it’s from this idea; part of our purpose as a church being to help one another to love more deeply and do good things for others, that our verse for 2018 comes:

‘Let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.’ Matthew 5:16

During our prayer time and discussions over the last year God has been speaking to us about being a place of welcome and comfort for all, he has been speaking to us about being a light, a lighthouse, shinning in the darkness drawing others in to safety, comfort and salvation. And so this year, as we continue to think and pray about how we can best achieve God plans for us, as we endeavour to work with him to make his community in this neighbours, I want to encourage every one of you to shine.

Just as Jesus, light of the world, came into the darkness we too are called to go out and shine into the dark places. Do good things, be compassionate, be caring, offer a listening ear or a helpful hand, love others in word and in action. This year may Potters Bar Baptist Church be like a city on a hill, blazing with light for all to see. And so, through all that you do and say this year, may God be praised.

Joel Mercer

Christmas 2017

Wednesday 13th December 2017 22:29

Last month Salvator Mundi, by Leonardo da Vinci became the most expensive painting ever sold at over $450 million. The painting is a portrait of Jesus, titled ‘Saviour of the world.’

Why tell you this? Simply it’s because I wanted to say that whilst one buyer got a painting of the Saviour of the World for $450 million we are reminded at Christmas time that God gave us the gift of the real thing for free.

If you don’t yet know Jesus as Saviour, why not pop by one of our services this Christmas time to find out more? And if you have already accepted this wonderful free gift start thinking about who else you might be able to share it with.

Christmas Services at Potters Bar Baptist Church:

Sunday 24th December:
10:30am – All age Christmas Celebration 6pm – Carols by Candlelight

Monday 25th December
10:30am – Christmas Day Worship

December 2017

Sunday 26th November 2017 15:25

Sausage rolls, Outrage and Jesus

Greggs the bakers made national news recently for a picture (below) in which they had put a sausage roll in the manger instead of Jesus. You may have seen some of the headlines. Apparently people were outraged and called for a boycott of pastries and cakes until Greggs apologised, which they did quite quickly.

As someone who believes that Jesus’ birth was one of the most profound things to have ever happened in the universe I have to say that I wasn’t offended in the slightest, but I was left a little bemused. Why is anyone surprised that Jesus isn’t part of Greggs’ nativity scene? Christmas is about all sorts of different things for all sorts of different people. Many people who think Christmas is important, who love this time of the year, are not followers of Jesus. Even if they know the story they have not yet understood the significance of the baby in the manger for themselves. So Christmas is about family, its about watching Elf and Home Alone and (for some reason) Die Hard, it’s about the joy of giving and receiving gifts. For some its about eating a little too much good food and drinking a little too much of something to wash it down, its about trees and lights and funny paper that’s and that’s OK.

As much as I would love everyone to know the significance of an all-powerful God become human baby I understand that everyone doesn’t. And if those that don’t want to use Christmas as an excuse to sing and dance and have fun, to spend more time with family and friends and put up coloured lights when the weather is grim and the nights are long, good for them. And if, in the spirit of trying to do something fun Greggs put a sausage roll in a manger I’m not too fussed, because for most people Christmas isn’t really about the baby that is normally pictured there anyway. I’m not offended, just maybe a little sad. Sad that more people don’t understand how amazing that baby is. Sad that more people don’t understand that the real problem with the picture is that the wise men were never at the manger-side anyway. Sad because if people really knew, the fun and family times, the movies and mistletoe and lights, would all come with an extra dose of joy. Because that day, in Bethlehem the King of the World was born, a baby who would bring us hope and joy and show us how to love.

So whilst I’d much rather an accurate depiction, with Jesus in the manger and his parents gathered near, I’m not offended by a sausage roll. I wonder how you feel about it?

November 2017

Monday 30th October 2017 15:47

I don’t know.

I knew this day would come. from the moment I had children I knew the day would come when they would know more than me, when they would comprehend things I could not, when they would have a firm gasp of technology that I struggled to understand. I just thought that they might be a little more than 6 years old when it happened.

Many of us have experienced the moment when our child, or grandchild, relative of friend, has come home from school full of information and questions: ‘Why isn’t Pluto a planet anymore?’ ‘What is it if it isn’t a planet?’ ‘How many dwarf planets are there?’ Or ‘my teacher says that…’ or ‘Don’t be silly daddy, that’s not how it works.’ I guess I have to resign myself to the fact that as time goes by there will be more and more things that my son is better informed than me about. Fortunately I am still way ahead of my three year old daughter (for now).

Part of the problem is, as adults we feel like we should know, we should have the answers, we should understand the questions, it should be us teaching the children and not the other way around. There is something in built about the idea that the more power and authority a person has the more they should know and understand. that is why we don’t like our politicians to say ‘I don’t know.’ We prefer them to bluff, to pretend to know so that we feel comfortable having them in change.

As a minister I sometimes feel the pressure to know in church. I’m the one who is supposed to know what to say and do in all circumstances, both in praising God and when praise is the last things on our minds. I’m the one who is supposed to know where that obscure bible reference someone just made comes from. I’m the one who is supposed to know exactly what is happening in everyone’s lives even if no-one has told me. And I’m supposed to know everything there is to know about God. I guess this is often the pressure I put on myself rather that coming from anyone else, bit its just not possible. The bible reminds us that it is OK not to know everything:

I tried to understand all that happens on earth. I saw how busy people are, working day and night and hardly ever sleeping. I also saw all that God has done. Nobody can understand what God does here on earth. No matter how hard people try to understand it, they cannot. Even if wise people say they understand, they cannot; no one can really understand it.
Ecclesiastes 8:16-17

In fact I think there is something quite freeing in not feeling like we have to have all the answers. Sometimes God baffles me, it’s Ok for us all to be baffled by him from time to time. Sometimes details that I should know escape me, my memory really isn’t that great, and sometimes no-one told me in the first place. Sometimes I dint know what God thinks about something or what the bible says. And that’s OK. We don’t need to know all the facts, we just need to know Jesus. and as we strive to know him more we’ll either get the facts too, or they’ll start to seem less important.

So please don’t be disappointed with me when I say: ‘I don’t know’

Joel Mercer

October 2017

Monday 2nd October 2017 15:18

Lighthouses, rivers, and arms open wide.

Over the last few months at PBBC, during prayer times and discussions, we have felt a real sense of God speaking to us about what sort of church he wants us to be. During our week of prayer, as we sung everyday about Christ being a lighthouse that guides us safely to the shores of his Kingdom, we thought about what it might mean for us as a church to be a lighthouse shinning into our community. We had visions of arms flung wide to welcome in every and anybody who would come, and of arms wrapped tightly around those in need of comfort and care. As part of the Leadership Team away-day at the end of July we talked together about the vision that Ezekiel describes in Ezekiel 47. There we find a trickle of fresh water that flows from the house of the Lord, a trickle that becomes a stream and then a river, that flows into a salty sea and makes the water fresh. Ezekiel 47:9 tells us that; ‘Swarms of living creatures will live wherever the river flows.’

All of these things have been feeding into the sense that God is speaking to us about the fundamental purposes of Potters Bar Baptist Church. I feel like he is calling us to be like a lighthouse in the community, a place where everyone knows they can come and find safety and care. Calling us to be those arms flung wide in welcome and arms wrapped around in comfort. I feel like he is calling us to be this sort of place and that from here light will shine and living water will flow.

In some ways I think we are already doing a good job of heeding this calling. We have increasing numbers of people coming into the building each week to participate in one of the many groups that run. And I trust that as these people come they experience the love of Jesus through the welcome and the care they receive whilst here.

But I think God is calling us to more. Over the coming months we are going to be considering how we can be even more welcoming to any who might wish to come, how we can express the love of Christ even more deeply to those who do come. We’ll be thinking and praying about our buildings; are there things we can do to our premises that will help with this calling? We’ll be thinking and praying about our activities; do we need to start anything new? Do we need to adjust some of what we already do? We’ll be thinking and praying that God will continue to guide us in the days ahead so that we might see our church and our community transformed by his living water flowing through us.

So please be praying, pray at home in your quiet times about the next steps for our church. Come to prayer meetings and let’s pray together about where God is leading us. Think about what we might do, dream and have visions about how we can fulfil God’s calling and come and share your inspiration with the rest of us.

I for one am very excited about the next steps we will be taking as a church. I hope you are too.


September 2017

Wednesday 30th August 2017 16:53

God Given

I sometimes get given gifts that I have no idea what to do with. Sometimes these gifts are for me; books that I know I won’t ever read or items of clothing that are never going to fit, and sometimes they are for the church; Half broken children’s toys, Roman Catholic art-work or bits of old furniture. Either way I am left with a conundrum, what do I do with these things? Sometimes before I can decide what to do with something I have to work out what it is, what it does. I’m forever finding odd things which I cannot fathom, I cannot discern their purpose, and if they might be useful to me or not. Obviously whoever has given things to me, or to the church, has done so out of generosity, wanting the gift to be appreciated and used. So what does one do with such gifts?

The bible has a lot to say about gifts, mostly about the gifts that God gives to us. One of the best things about the gifts that God gives is that they are always useful. The bible tells us that every person in a church family has a part to play, gifts, given by God, to use. However sometimes it is hard for us to use them. Some of us struggle to identify the gifts that we have; we don’t know what they are. Some of us have no idea how we can use the gifts that we do have; we don’t know what they are for. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7 says this:

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

The first step then is to discover our God given gifts; we can do this by praying, asking God to show us, we can ask ourselves, what am I good at? What am I passionate about? Sometimes it helps to ask these questions of someone who know us well, others often see things in us we might miss. Another fantastic way to discover our gifts is to get stuck into things, to have a go at serving in different ways, sometimes we find that we are good at and enjoy things we never thought we would.

Once we start to uncover some of the gifts that we have the next question is; what do I do with these God given gifts? The answer comes in the passage of Corinthians above; our gifts are to be used for the common good, for others. How can you benefit others with your gifts and talents?

This Autumn at Potters Bar Baptist Church we are going to be thinking together about the gifts that God has blessed us with, looking particularly at those mentioned in Romans 12:4-8. Do come along to our Sunday morning services expecting God to show you what gifts you have and where he wants you to put them to use.

If you can’t make it on Sunday mornings you can always find recordings of our services on www.pbbc.org.uk

Joel Mercer

Wednesday 30th August 2017 16:43

Week of Prayer 26 June to 2 July 2017

Tuesday 30th May 2017 07:48

PBBC Week of Prayer 26th June- 2nd July
What next? – Seeking God’s will for the next steps in our life together

Monday 8pm – What next for our Church?
• Praise God for:
o Years of growth, both in number and in the depths of our relationships with him and each other.
o His faithfulness to us and his provision of resources.
o Those who have served the church for many years.
• Pray for:
o Those in our church who are unwell
o Members who are no longer able to attend
• Seek guidance about:
o What sort of church does God want us to be?
o Where should we focus our energy and resources?

Tuesday 1pm – What next for our Outreach?
• Praise God for:
o Relationships being built with many people who don’t come to church through mid-week groups
o Events at church which have bought the community in.
• Pray for:
o Continued development of relationships with those in our community.
o That more of those we see mid-week would join us for Sunday worship
• Seek guidance about:
o How can we show our community the love of Christ in the coming years?
o Might there be a way to invest some of our resources into meaningful outreach to our community?

Wednesday 10am – What next for our Worship?
• Praise God for:
o An increase in the number of people from our church involved in our worship. From leading services to being part of our singing group.
o Those dedicated people who help lead our worship, morning and evening each week.
• Pray for:
o More musicians to join our worship group.
• Seek guidance about:
o What might we do to engage more people in our worship?
o How can we encourage other to join us in worshipping God?

Thursday 8pm – What next for our Small Groups?
• Praise God for:
o More small groups that have started this year with a good number of people now attending.
o Small groups hosts and leaders.
• Pray for:
o More people to attend small groups
o That God would bind us together in our small groups so that they are places of learning and worship and mutual support.
o That we might not give up meeting but rather meet together and encourage each other.
• Seek guidance about:
o Ways in which our small groups can motivate each other to lve and good works.
o How we might encourage those who do not currently attend groups to join.

Friday 2pm – What next for our Premises?
• Praise God for:
o The wonderful space we have to worship him and serve our community with mid-week groups.
o The ability to let our premises and derive extra income.
o That the repairs to the wall are in hand and the cost has not been exorbitant.
o Those who work hard to maintain our buildings.
• Pray for:
o Our buildings, that there might be no-more major problems that need to be fixed.
o All those who meet on our premises during the week.
• Seek guidance about:
o Are there things that we might do with our premises to better extend the kingdom of God?
o Should we spend some of the churches money on updating parts of our building, if so which parts and what impact might this have on our mission?

Saturday 9am – What next for our Children and Young People?
• Praise God for:
o Increased numbers at Tots in Tow since partnering with the children’s centre.
o Leaders and helpers who give up their time to plan and work with our children and young people.
• Pray for:
o Those children we do see each week. That they would be happy and healthy and grow in their relationships with Christ.
o That we might see more children and young people in church, both on Sundays and at mid-week activities.
• Seek guidance about:
o Are there things that we might do to encourage more families to join us each week?
o Should we look to be hosting more children’s and young people’s activities during the week? What might these be? How would this work?

Sunday 10am – What next for PBBC?
• Praise God for:
o A special week of speaking to us!
• Pray for:
o Those things that he has been saying to us this week
o Discernment for our future
• Seek guidance about:
o How we might implement some of the things he has shown us

June 2017

Tuesday 30th May 2017 07:45

Is there something you can’t do without? I often tell people that I’m not good for anything before my first cup of coffee. I know people whose brains don’t seem to function until they have had a shower in the morning. Some people might need food regularly to keep them going or just the right amount of sleep.

There is something that the church cannot do without, something that makes everything else in the church work. That something is prayer. Prayer is a fundamental part of everything the church does. Whenever I hear of churches growing in number or experiencing true depth in their relationships with God and each other or impacting their community for the Kingdom of God, a common theme is always that these churches are steeped in prayer.

At the end of this month we will be having a week of prayer for our church. I’d encourage all of you to do your best to come and meet with us, as often as possible that week to seek God. If you can’t make it to the meetings for any reason please pray for the church in your own quiet times and if you feel God is speaking let us know what he says.

Details of what we will be praying about and the times of each meeting can be found in the following pages. I’m excited to hear from God about what the next steps in our life together might be.


Its Party Time!

Wednesday 26th April 2017 16:18

On the 14th of this month Potters Bar Baptist Church is celebrating its birthday (don’t ask me how old we are, I got it wrong last year!). To celebrate we are throwing a party. That Sunday our service will start a little later at 11am. After the service there will be a buffet and BBQ (around 1:30pm), a bouncy castle, games and activities culminating in the life and mission choir preforming Spirit Songs at 3:30pm.

The idea is to celebrate with our whole community another year of faithfulness from our God. You are probably now asking yourself, ‘What do I need to do?’ the answer is threefold:

1. Turn up and have fun (or at least pretend to have fun!)
2. Bring a friend so that they can have (or pretend to have) fun too
3. Consider offering your service to help (I have a list of jobs that need doing and I’m sure there is a suitable one on there for you (and your friend))

That’s all I have to say this month, look forward to seeing you on the 14th!


Thursday 6th April 2017 20:07

April 22nd

Saturday 1st April 2017 20:02

Come and join us at our Attic Sale on Saturday, 22nd April. Open from 10.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

Free Entry

Tea and Coffee available.

April 2017

Wednesday 29th March 2017 07:58

It’s what’s inside that counts

How many times have you been told that? Don’t judge a book by its cover; it’s what’s inside that counts. How many of us I wonder do just the opposite all the time? How many of us buy things in the shop based solely on how nice we think the packaging looks? How many of us would hesitate to go into a restaurant where the outside was filthy, with unwashed windows and little visual appeal?

And yet deep down I think we know that sometimes the toilet cleaner in the plain white bottle, the one without the cartoon duck on it, is just as effective. We’ve been to little restaurants that look unloved from the outside but are clean and full of wonderful smells and great food when you venture past the door. We know these things, we have experienced the fact that it is indeed what is inside that counts. Which makes me wonder why we keep on buying Easter eggs year after year. Someone reminded me just last week that a bar of chocolate is cheaper and that you often get more actual chocolate for your money. Easter eggs are literally hollow, they look good from the outside, some of the look huge, but there is no substance to them, just a shell. I guess in this way they do a good job of reminding us of Jesus tomb because once the stone was rolled away that too was found to be empty. But that is not really what this message is about. This message is about how God sees us.

God knows us inside and out and he loves us. He doesn’t take a look at the packaging we come in and decide that we are too boring, to big or small or old or young. He loves us. What is even better as far as I am concerned is that even when he looks on the inside, he still loves us. Because I have to admit sometimes what goes on inside my head is not always that nice, I’m grumpy and get angry, frustrated and tired and God see’s all that and still loves me.

The world around us says that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, that we should judge people by what’s inside, well sometimes what is inside isn’t always nice. But God still loves. What’s more he wants to help us work on what is inside to make it less grumpy or angry, to make it better.

So this Easter as you tuck into your eggs (or bars of chocolate if you have gone down the cheaper, more practical route) Remember God knows what your packaging looks like, and he knows what is inside and he still loves you, he loved this world so much that he sent his son to die for us at Easter time.

Every blessing,

March 2017

Monday 27th February 2017 20:31

Have you given up on your New Years resolution yet?

Maybe you didn’t make any this year, knowing that it was futile, knowing that your best intentions for 2017 wouldn’t last for 365 days. Often I think our resolutions are about giving things up, no more chocolate or alcohol or takeaways but the temptation of these things are just too great. I’m not here to berate you, I don’t make resolutions for exactly this reason – I’m no good at keeping them.

However, I want to challenge you (and myself), to resolve to do something over the next month and a bit. Because the 1st of March is Ash Wednesday, or the first day of lent. Lent is a time of preparation, for those forty days we remember stories from the bible of preparation and prayer. We remember the rain at the time of Noah for forty days and forty nights to prepare for the re-birth of the world. We remember the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years before they were ready to enter the Promised Land. We remember Jonah preaching for forty days to Nineveh to prepare them for God’s judgement. We remember Jesus’ forty days and nights in the desert, being tempted, to prepare him for his ministry. We remember that these times often meant going without for the people involved, fasting or struggling to find sustenance, relying on God. We remember that in each case blessings came out of the end of this time. Dry land and rainbows, entry to the Promised Land, salvation or fruitful ministry.

And so this lent, from March the 1st to April 13th I want to challenge you to journey with me in self-denial and focus on God. Let’s all make a Lenten resolution. This doesn’t mean running off to the desert for the duration, it does mean giving something up and it means focusing on God.

I’m going to do this by giving up alcohol and by reading Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace which is Archbishop Justin Welby’s book for lent this year. So instead of settling down to a whiskey and Match of the Day on a Saturday evening, I’ll be doing a bit of light reading about God and money (and then maybe I’ll watch Match of the Day). The principle is simple, make a sacrifice – give something up and then take up something each day, a book, a prayer time or reading part of the bible maybe.

So this lent, let’s prepare ourselves for our walk with God by denying ourselves – giving something up and spending just a bit more time with him.


Have you given up on your New Years resolutions ye

Monday 27th February 2017 20:29

Maybe you didn’t make any this year, knowing that it was futile, knowing that your best intentions for 2017 wouldn’t last for 365 days. Often I think our resolutions are about giving things up, no more chocolate or alcohol or takeaways but the temptation of these things are just too great. I’m not here to berate you, I don’t make resolutions for exactly this reason – I’m no good at keeping them.

However, I want to challenge you (and myself), to resolve to do something over the next month and a bit. Because the 1st of March is Ash Wednesday, or the first day of lent. Lent is a time of preparation, for those forty days we remember stories from the bible of preparation and prayer. We remember the rain at the time of Noah for forty days and forty nights to prepare for the re-birth of the world. We remember the Israelites wandering in the desert for 40 years before they were ready to enter the Promised Land. We remember Jonah preaching for forty days to Nineveh to prepare them for God’s judgement. We remember Jesus’ forty days and nights in the desert, being tempted, to prepare him for his ministry. We remember that these times often meant going without for the people involved, fasting or struggling to find sustenance, relying on God. We remember that in each case blessings came out of the end of this time. Dry land and rainbows, entry to the Promised Land, salvation or fruitful ministry.

And so this lent, from March the 1st to April 13th I want to challenge you to journey with me in self-denial and focus on God. Let’s all make a Lenten resolution. This doesn’t mean running off to the desert for the duration, it does mean giving something up and it means focusing on God.

I’m going to do this by giving up alcohol and by reading Dethroning Mammon: Making Money Serve Grace which is Archbishop Justin Welby’s book for lent this year. So instead of settling down to a whiskey and Match of the Day on a Saturday evening, I’ll be doing a bit of light reading about God and money (and then maybe I’ll watch Match of the Day). The principle is simple, make a sacrifice – give something up and then take up something each day, a book, a prayer time or reading part of the bible maybe.

So this lent, let’s prepare ourselves for our walk with God by denying ourselves – giving something up and spending just a bit more time with him.


February 2017

Monday 30th January 2017 14:11

‘Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub.’

If you already know what I’m talking about you are probably slightly older than I am. I suspect that the United States of America are unlikely to demand all of their firemen change their names to coincide with a half century old BBC children’s program but we do now have a real life TRUMPton. President Trump, famous for silly hair, promising to build a wall between the USA and Mexico and a cameo in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, is now the leader of the free world.

Now you may be of the opinion that, as a minister, I should be politically neutral, never advocating for an individual or party, staying out of politics and sticking to what I know best, Jesus. If that is what you think then you labour under a misconception. The bible, and Jesus, has plenty to say about politics, about the sort of people we should be and the sort of world we should strive for.

President Trump wants to build a wall to keep out people he doesn’t like. He wants the US to be about taking care of themselves and preventing others from taking advantage of all they have. The bible has plenty to say about how to treat foreigners, or what to do about those who have less than you:

‘The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself’ Lev 19:34

‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was ill and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me … whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:34-36, 40

We are called to care for those who are different, for those who have less than us. We are called to care for those in need, in this nation and across the world. I am proud to be part of a country that, rather than build a wall to keep people out, dug a tunnel to connect ourselves to others.

Let me leave you with the words of another Baptist Minister, one a little more famous than me:

‘Let us build bridges rather than barriers, openness rather than walls. Rather than borders, let us look at distant horizons together in a spirit of acceptance, helpfulness, co-operation, peace, kindness and especially love.’ Martin Luther King Jr.


Small Groups

Thursday 29th December 2016 11:10

Potters Bar Baptist Church Small Groups

When Where Who
Mondays 7:30pm Rushfield Cliff and Chris Eaton
Tuesdays 10am Hatfield Road Gladys Platts and Vera Eccleshall
Tuesdays 2:30pm PBBC Mike and Linda Winter
Wednesdays 7:30pm Barnet Road Joel and Vicki Mercer (Starting March 2017)
Fridays 2:30pm Furzefield Court Julie Gale and Pam Murphy

Please contact 01707 840538 or minister@pbbc.org.uk for further details

Unless otherwise stated all groups launch 3rd week in January 2017

Its 2017! Happy New Year!

Thursday 29th December 2016 11:04

A new year at Potters Bar Baptist Church means a new verse for the year:

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but meet together and encourage each other. Hebrews 10:24-25a

We are going to start 2017 focusing on meeting together. ‘Easy!’ you might say ‘I already do that, I come to church each Sunday to worship.’ That is fantastic; it is good to come together on a Sunday to worship God together, but as a church we want to take this one step more. So our thoughts in the early part of the year are going to be about why we meet together and exactly what sort of things each one of us should be doing when we meet together in order to encourage one another as our verse for the year says.

Coupled with this we are re-launching our small groups from the third week in January. These small groups will gather together to pray and support each other, to praise God and to study his word. Each week our small groups will look together at the same theme we’ve had the previous Sunday morning, seeking to go deeper and understand it better. Hopefully someone will be in touch to ask you which of our small groups you’d like to attend.

I truly hope that 2017 might be a year when our meeting together moves a step closer to being exactly what God wants his body, the church, to be. That together we might make and effort to motivate each other to love and good deeds, to encourage each other. I find that prospect incredibly exciting, I hope you do to.

December 2016

Sunday 4th December 2016 14:52

Joel and Vicki invite you to drop into the Manse on Saturday, 10th December between 1 and 4 p.m. for light refreshments and a chat.

All welcome

December 2016

Sunday 4th December 2016 14:49

'O come all ye faithful…’

It’s December! And in church that means only one thing, Christmas. Actually it’s not just church that goes all out for Christmas in December, the lights come out in the High Street, the shops all morph into red and green sweet and present filled gauntlets and what was once a peaceful garden centre becomes a Santa’s grotto filled with screaming children. What a joyous time!

At Christmas we remember Emmanuel, a name for Jesus that means ‘God with us’, God come down to live on earth. At this time, as we remember Jesus and his first moments on earth, I want to remind you of his last moments. As Jesus stood with his disciples, about to leave, he made them one promise and gave them one task. His promise was that just as he had been Emmanuel, God with them, he would continue to be with them, even after he had gone. The task was to share his story with others, to make disciples of all people that they too might know the comfort of the presence of God.

This is still our task today. So I want to encourage you, as we start the downward plunge into all things Christmassy, take the opportunity this year to share with just one other person, what ‘God with us’ means to you. Maybe start to think if there is someone you would like to invite to church this Christmas to hear, not just about the baby Jesus, but about a God who loves us and is always with us.

Joel Mercer

Message from Lynn Green General Secretary of BUGB

Wednesday 9th November 2016 21:51

Beacons of Prayer – See I am doing a new thing

I have this deep sense that God wants to do a new thing and he is calling us to prayer to 'make space' for him to speak and move.

Let me share with you how I have become convinced of this ...

God has been speaking to me from Isaiah 43,
'forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland'.

This sense that God wants to do a new thing, the sense that HE will do it, has been growing. Others have also given me this verse along the way; it just keeps popping up in all sorts of different settings.

But on Sunday 31 May 2015 God gave me a breathtaking vision of his glory; it was awesome, powerful yet beautiful. Then I saw fires being lit and spreading out all over this country and I felt that God was saying he wanted to light beacons of prayer right across the UK. Beacons of prayer that were people who were inspired to pray and seek the Lord, not with our own agenda but simply that we might draw close to Him and open ourselves and our churches to him so that he would have the freedom to move amongst us and through us by his Spirit. The next morning I prayed that if this was the Lord he would confirm this to me. Since then, in so many different ways, there has been this common sense of discernment that, yes, this is God speaking to us.

I believe this is a word for the church in the UK but my first role is to devote myself to prayer for God's new thing and to call Baptists to join me in lighting and stoking beacons of prayer.
In these last two days I have shared this vision with the Baptist Steering Group and together we share this sense of God's call to prayer. Last night we knelt together in humility and prayed that the Lord would be at work in and through us as individuals and as a movement of churches...

So what next?? Quite simply, pray!

For more stories and information see the Beacons of Prayer page on the Baptists Together website (www.baptist.org.uk).

I have no idea where this will lead but I am being obedient in taking the first step and trusting the Lord for what comes next.
Lynn Green
General Secretary, Baptist Union of Great Britain

November 2016

Thursday 27th October 2016 07:38


The Poet John Donne, in his 1624 work Devotions upon Emergent Occasions wrote ‘No man is an island, entire of itself.’ Some time later Paul Simon sought to disagree singing ‘I am a Rock, I am an island.’ John Donne claimed that all people are linked, that we need each other. Paul Simon’s song says ‘I have no need of friendship, friendship causes pain.’ I wonder which you agree with, can we manage on our own or do we need other people?

You might be able to guess what I think. The story of the bible shows us that we were created to be in relationships: in a relationship with God and in relationships with one another. As Christians we are called to infuse those relationships with love.

Another thing that is clear from the biblical story is that life is not easy, particularly as we struggle to follow Christ. So our relationships with other Christians should help us as we walk through life together. We should be able to encourage and assist one another, to challenge one another when we see others straying from Jesus, comforting one another as we weeping, learning together what it means to wholeheartedly follow Jesus. Colossians 3:15 & 16 says this:

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

We can’t be Christians alone, and sometimes Sundays isn’t the best place to open up, support each other and share, it isn’t the best place to ask about things we are confused about. Sometimes there are just too many people about. So what do we do?

In 2017 we are launching small groups. Small groups are exactly what they sound like, small groups of people who meet together to encourage, support, equip, admonish and comfort each other. They are also places where we can worship together and get to know others better. I think they are pretty integral to Christian life. Soon there will be some information about what groups are going to be meeting where and at what time. I’d like to encourage you, start praying now that God would help you into a small group where you can find support in your walk through life and where you can support others.

Small groups are open to all, even if you don’t come to church on a Sunday. If you want to attend just get in touch!

Every Blessing,

October 2016

Thursday 29th September 2016 16:16

Underdogs, low expectations and a God who can do anything!

I know what it is like to be an underdog. I finished secondary school weighing about eight stone, only a shade taller that 5ft and with the all the co-ordination of a dizzy octopus. I remember turning up to one sports day to find that my classmates had entered me into the 800 meters race (thanks!). I wheezed my way twice round that track finishing dead last, a whole minute behind the geeky kid who came to school with a briefcase. I’ve never been the fastest, strongest, funniest, cleverest, best looking or most accomplished at anything. Generally this has meant that much of the time I have very low expectations of myself.

The same could be said for a number of sports stars over the last year or so. Leicester City went from being rock bottom of the premier league in January 2015 to winning it the following year. The Welsh football team cruised to the semi-finals of the European Cup, far outstripping the success of some of their much bigger, better-financed rivals. An almost unknown Sam Querrey broke Novak Djokovic’s 30 consecutive grand-slam win streak to dump the world number one out of the tennis at Wimbledon. All these had low expectations, started as underdogs, but rose to the occasion and upset the odds.

I wish I could tell you that I too rose to the occasion and upset the odds but as yet my greatest sporting achievement is not collapsing in a heap whilst running the micro marathon with Caleb and his four-year-old classmates at school. And yet I still believe that I can do great things, that I am destined to do great things. Not because I think I’m going to get any clever, faster, funnier or more handsome, but rather because I work alongside a great God.

We can get inspiration from the life of David a shepherd who, with the help of God, defeated a giant and became king. Jesus told his disciples this:

‘With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.’
Mark 10:27

So whenever you think you can’t, when you feel like an underdog, that things are too much. Whenever God is leading you somewhere you don’t think you can follow or life seems overwhelming remember this:

I can do all this through him who gives me strength
Philippians 4:13

Joel Mercer

Sunday 4th September 2016 11:44

September 2016

Thursday 25th August 2016 16:04

‘When I grow up I want to be…’ words that almost every child says at some point in their lives. Sometimes what they want to be is serious, sometimes funny, sometimes impossible, ambitious or mundane. Some children insist that they want to grow up to be elephants or dinosaurs. I wanted to be a Police Officer, Caleb tells me he wants to be an astronaut, footballer and singer on the radio. We’ve told him that if that’s what he wants to do he will need to study hard and train hard (and maybe see a vocal coach).

I wonder what you wanted to be when you were a child? Did you achieve your ambition? Maybe like Caleb those ambitions required a lot of hard work, maybe you succeeded or maybe not. I’ve been watching lot of the Olympics over the last month and am really looking forward to the Paralympics starting, in these competitions we seek people who are giving everything they have to achieve their goal of a gold medal. Those people devote years, decades of their lives to training, it effects everything from what time they wake up in the morning to what they eat. They are wholehearted in devotion to their ambition.

Many of you, like me might have said, (or thought) at one time or another ‘I want to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus.’ If you have I wonder how devoted you are to that ambition. Is your faith in Jesus, you relationship with God something you are truly wholehearted about? If you’re not a follower of Jesus already maybe its something you have thought about from time to time. Someone once said:

Just going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.

Being a Christian is about far more than skulking into church occasionally. It’s about being wholehearted in your relationship with God. The same way an Olympian or Paralympian’s ambition effects everything they do, requires great effort and devotion, so to Faith in God impacts everything. This autumn, starting in September on Sunday mornings, we are going to be studying what it means to be wholeheartedly devoted to God by looking at the life of David. I’d encourage you to come along, or listen to the recordings and find out what it is that God looks for in our hearts and how we can devote ourselves, wholeheartedly, to him.

Every Blessing,

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

July August 2016

Monday 27th June 2016 20:08

As I write this article for our summer magazine the rain is pouring down outside the window, I’ve just had to put an extra jumper on to keep me warm and balmy days seem far away. And yet today, I’m told by the internet, is the first day of summer. Summer, that time of year we associate with holidays, barbecues and perpetual disappointment about the weather (it’s either raining or it’s ‘too hot’).

Many of us head off on holiday in the summer months in search of some sun and a chance to ‘get away from it all.’ We know that every now and then all of us need some time to relax, time to put aside all the responsibilities we have at home and do something different. Jesus also made a habit of taking time out from his busy schedule. He got away to be with Father God, Luke 5:16 tells us:

‘Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.’

Periodically Jesus would disappear off, sometimes with just a handful of others, sometimes on his own, to get some space and pray. He would go to reconnect with God, to allow God to speak to him and to instruct him on what was coming next. Jesus needed to be refreshed and revitalised by Father God in order to carry on with the work he had before him.

I have no idea what your plans are for the summer (though feel free to let me know when you see me next) but I want to encourage you this year to make some space for God. Take some time out of the all the things you usually fill your days with to have some quality one-on-one time with your creator. If nature is your thing spend a day walking through woods or fields, praying about whatever comes to mind. If you like old churches why not visit a Cathedral for a day and be inspired by the art and architecture. Maybe you just need to be like Jesus and find a lonely place to go and be. Whatever you do give God a whole day of concentrated time this summer. Speak to him about any and everything, read his word and ask him to speak to you. Ask him to refresh you, ask him to fill you anew with the Holy Spirit so that you are equipped to continue to live for him.

And if you’d like, after you’ve done all that, come and tell me about it. I’d love to hear your experiences of spending some quality time with God.

Every Blessing for whatever you do this summer.


June 2016

Thursday 26th May 2016 07:31

The American Declaration of Independence includes this famous sentence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Whilst I have no disagreement with the idea that all people are created equal I do take exception to the idea that the pursuit of happiness is a God given Right. In fact I’m pretty sure that the pursuit of happiness as a concept is probably not compatible with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The impact of such a thing being enshrined in American history, law and philosophy is widespread. It permeates our culture in TV programs and films, in song and advertising. The idea that we all have a right to pursue happiness influences so much of the information we take in.

So what is my problem? Surely it is good for people to be happy, and therefore the pursuit of happiness is a positive thing?

I’m not so sure. I think ultimately the pursuit of happiness is unfulfilling and the results are depressing. The pursuit of happiness is about striving for something, always wanting something more. Pursuing happiness means pursuing a better job and a pay rise in the hope it will make us happy. It means wanting more authority or status or power, it means grasping after more than we have, in the hope that we will find happiness. Ultimately all this is unsatisfactory, for everything we gain there is always more we could have, the pursuit becomes the thing. We end up living in a place where everyone is pursuing but almost no-one is really happy.

I don’t think happiness is something that can be pursued. Apart from anything else our emotions (of which happiness is one) are not stable enough, what makes us happy today won’t necessarily make us so tomorrow.

And maybe more importantly, the message of our faith is one of self-sacrifice rather that self-serving-pursuit and of contentment rather than of happiness. Jesus command to that those who wish to come after him should deny themselves, take up their cross and follow, (Matt 16:24) doesn’t seem to sit well alongside a pursuit of happiness. In fact the end of Matthew 6 seems to suggest a better way:

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt 6:31-33)

There is a contentment that comes with knowing the God is in control. A contentment in giving the future and all our desires over to him. So I say to you, don’t strive after happiness. Be content with all that you already have and instead seek the righteousness and kingdom of God.


Wednesday 4th May 2016 08:48

May 2016

Friday 29th April 2016 22:12

‘Jesus seemed to think that evangelism was an important part of being a disciple. He told Simon and Andrew that to follow him would mean fishing for people. He told those of his friends who stuck with him in Jerusalem that when he sent the Holy Spirit they would end up being his witnesses. According to Matthew, his parting words make it clear that to be a disciple is to make other disciples. It all seems pretty straightforward. If we call ourselves Christians we are meant to evangelise.’
The above is from Baptists Together Summer edition titled Everyday Evangelism. Did you know that one of the three principals that Baptist Churches in the UK sign up to is about evangelism? It says this:

‘It is the duty of every disciple to bear personal witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to take part in the evangelisation of the world.’
Evangelism can be a scary word. Maybe it conjures up in your mind ideas of standing on street corners with megaphones condemning people to hell. This really isn’t what evangelism is all about. Those who regularly come to our evening services have been hearing, as we work through the Gospel of Mark, that Jesus came to share the Good News of the kingdom of God. Everything he did was about this Good News. Evangelism is really just sharing Good News with people, we might do this in the way we act, in the grace, generosity and forgiveness we show, both as individuals and a church. We might do this by sharing a bit about how the Good News of Jesus has affected us. There are a thousand ways we might do this.

One of the important things I think for us to remember is that we are not called to bring people to church, or even make converts of them. That is the Job of the Holy Spirit. Our job is simply to be Good News for our community and to share Good News with others.

As we journey together through 40 days of Daring Greatly on Sunday mornings we have all been encouraged to share this Good News with friends, family and neighbours, we have all been encouraged to embody Good News. On Sunday 15th May at midday we are throwing a church birthday party, with food and games and all sorts. We want this to be a day where we share some Good News with our community (even if that good news is only that there’s going to be free food.). So who are you going to invite to our birthday party? Who are you going to share some Good News with? How are you going to take part in the evangelisation of the world?


If you have time I would encourage you all to read this month’s Baptists Together, it is full of inspiring stories and ideas for sharing our faith. There are three copies at church that you can borrow and return. Alternatively you can download a copy from the website below.


Wednesday 13th April 2016 08:29

Ephesians- Being the Community of God.

Monday 28th March 2016 11:16

April 2016

Monday 28th March 2016 10:57

Did you know that at Potters Bar Baptist Church we have both a 10:30am service and a 6pm evening service each week? I guess you probably did know that. In our evening service, since last September, we have been very thoroughly working our way through the Gospel of Mark. To give you some idea of how thorough we are; we’ve been at it for 5 months and we’ve got as far as chapter 6.

A few weeks back I was preaching on Mark 6:6-13 where Jesus sends out the 12 Disciples to do all he had been doing. To preach the Good News of the Kingdom of God and to show people what that Kingdom is like by preforming miracles. This started me thinking, scripture tells us that the reason Jesus appointed the twelve in the first place was in order to send them out. I ended up asking the congregation a lot of questions that evening but the first one was this:

Why do we come to church?

Now I’m aware that many of you who read this don’t actually attend church, you may connect with us in other ways. I guess for you the question is different:

Why don’t you attend church?

These questions are pretty fundamental and really important to not just what happens on a Sunday but our whole lives. Essentially I think there are three basic reasons to attend church.

1. For God – We attend church to praise and worship our saviour, to deepen our relationship with him by learning about him. It doesn’t matter what we sing but the attitude with which we sing it. Church is for God.
2. For Ourselves – Learning is part of this but also our need to feel supported by other followers of Christ. We come because we have a need for God, we come as individuals to be equipped and empowered by the Holy Spirit so that we can live for God and share what we have. Church is for us as individuals.
3. For Others – We attend church in order to have fellowship with and support others who are part of our church family. We come to pray to God for those we know and love and for this world that he made. We come to learn and be equipped for the sake of others that they too might come to know our great God like we do. Church serves a particular role as the place from which we are sent out to bring love, compassion, healing, joy and hope to others. Church is all about other people.

I think it is important that we keep these three things in balance. If church becomes more about me than it does about God or others I end up navel gazing, I no longer allow God to shape me. When I get bored of the preacher or the worship isn't to my taste I simply stop going. When church is all about others I spend so much time trying to help people I neglect my own relationship with God. I burn out and become cynical. If church is all about God, all focused on praising him and learning about him we find ourselves disobeying his commands to properly love one another.

Isaac, Samuel and Sacrifice

Sunday 13th March 2016 22:04

Do you remember the story of Abraham and Isaac? One day God says to Abraham: "Take your son, your only son, whom you love – Isaac – and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain that I will show you." Now this was a bit of a shocker as Abraham had waited many years for Isaac. Isaac was the chosen one, the child of promise, Neo to Abraham's Morpheus, Anakin to his Qui-Gon Jinn.

The story goes that Abraham was obedient, he didn't know what God had planned but he took his son, the most important thing in the world, to a mountain with the intention of sacrificing him to God. Eventually God provides a ram to be sacrificed instead of Isaac, because after all, our God is one that doesn't really approve of child sacrifice.

When we tell ourselves this story we sometimes tell ourselves that Abraham should have known that God was not the sort of God that wanted human sacrifice. We tell ourselves that our God wouldn't take away the child of promise, the most precious thing in Abraham, and his wife Sarahs lives (I often wonder what Sarah might have thought when Abraham finally told her that he had taken their son on a camping trip with the intention of sacrificing him before they came back).

And yet, fast forward 1,000 years or so and we find another parent and child in a similar situation. Its not exactly the same, Hannah has begged God for the one thing she wants most in the world, a son. She says this: Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life. Hannah gets her son but when the time comes to give him up, to sacrifice him to the Lord there is no ram, no other to take his place. God takes Samuel, takes his life and uses him. Though her son is alive and she sees him very occasionally (once a year or so) Hannah really did have to sacrifice the most precious thing in her life, the thing she had desired above all others, to God.

So when Paul writes in Romans 12 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. We shouldn't kid ourselves into thinking that, like Abraham, we might be let off the hook at the last moment. The demands of following Jesus are such that he may require us to give up, not only our own selves, but the things in life that we desire most, that are most precious to us. We are called as his people, to submit, to sacrifice all we are and have. This might sound like a bit of a rubbish deal but I truly believe that not only does God deserve this sacrifice from us (after all he did create everything, not to mention his own self-sacrifice for us), but he also promises us something far better in return.

March 2016

Monday 29th February 2016 19:58

Sneaky, sneaky.

Have you ever played the game statues? On person will stand at one end of the room with their back turned. Everyone else sneaks forward whilst that persons back is turned but when they turn around the sneaker must freeze, staying as still as statue. If you move, you’re out of the game. The aim of the game is sneak right up and touch the person at the other end of the room on the shoulder

Some things have a way of sneaking up on us, we don’t even notice them moving and before we know it they are tapping us on the shoulder. People’s birthdays, anniversaries, growing older, expanding waistlines, all these things have a habit of sneaking up on us. Before we realise it they are there.

Easter has snuck up on us a bit this year, it’s really quite early, the end of March rather than the middle of April. I have to confess I still have no idea how the date of Easter is calculated. I think though we are probably not alone to find Easter sneaking up on us, it came as a bit of a surprise to Jesus’ disciples as well. Though the signs were all there and Jesus had spoken about what was going to happen they just didn’t understand, they weren’t prepared for his death or expecting his resurrection.

At PBBC were don’t tend to make very much of lent, a time of preparation, but maybe this year, to stop Easter surprising us, we can make the most of this month in the run up to our particular remembrance of Jesus death and resurrection. Let me encourage you to open your bibles and read John’s account of the events leading up to Jesus death. If you start at chapter 12 and read 2 chapters a week for all of March you’ll cover it. Remind yourself of what Jesus did and said in the weeks before he died. Think about the implications of those things for how you live.

If you plan to take up my challenge please come and let me know. If you have questions about any of what you have read or God has been speaking to you through it I would love to talk with you about it. Let’s share this month in the story of Jesus together and prepare ourselves properly for the celebration of Easter.

Jesus spoke again […] he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12

Every blessing,

Do you believe in Fairies?

Tuesday 2nd February 2016 16:53

According to Peter (Pan that is, not St. Peter), when the first baby laughed that laugh split into a thousand pieces which each went skipping about and became fairies. He also mentions: "Every time a child says, 'I don't believe in fairies,' there is a fairy somewhere that falls down dead." And did you know the only thing to do to revive a fairy that has fallen is to clap your hands as loud as you can?

Sometimes we have to have the courage of our convictions. So as you read this if, like me, you don’t believe in fairies I’d encourage you to speak it out loud and proud without fear that you might be responsible for the death a tiny fictional people with wings and wands. If however you do believe in fairies feel free to start clapping in the hope you might undo some of the damage the non-believers have done.

Truly trusting in God is all about having the courage of our convictions. In his letter to the Romans Paul writes:

‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes’ Romans 1:16

I sincerely hope that this is how we feel as well; unashamed of the good news of Jesus Christ. And if it is we need to have the courage of that conviction. What does this mean? It means not being timid about our faith, it means sharing it in word and deed all day everyday. It means living out our trust in God. God says he will never leave or forsake us, he commands us to go and make disciples, he tells us to love God and one another. The truth is that if we trust God, if we are not ashamed, then we should be declaring it.

I wonder how many people reading this were willing to declare to the world they didn’t believe in fairies. I wonder how many clapped for all to hear. I wonder how many will be inspired to share the difference that Christ has made to their lives.

Trust in God is all about having the courage of your convictions. So what do you believe?

Every Blessing,

January 2016

Thursday 31st December 2015 08:21

Trust. They say that trust is the most expensive thing in the world; it can take years to earn but mere moments to lose. In 2016 at Potters Bar Baptist Church we are going to be thinking about trust, thinking about a God who inspires our trust and how we, as his people might live lives dependant on him. Our verse for the year comes from Proverbs 3:5-6:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you the path to take".

So as we start the year together let me ask you a couple of questions: Who do you trust and why do you trust them? Maybe you are the sort of person who finds it hard to trust others, to rely upon anyone else. You would rather cut yourself off and just depend upon yourself. Maybe you think you are too trusting, you believe everything anyone says even when you have been let down in the past. I wonder if your experience of trusting other people has an impact on your ability to trust God.

In the first few months of this New Year we are going to explore together the stories of individuals who have trusted God. We will be thinking about what God did to deserve their trust and what the results of trusting God are. My hope is that each one of us might be inspired to trust God more, to depend upon him, to seek his will in all we do.

So as we start this journey of trust together let me leave you with the words of Corrie ten Boom:

‘Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.’

Every blessing,

Monday 7th December 2015 20:42

Table talk for Christmas

Thursday 26th November 2015 17:06

In our Church Members Meeting this November we had the opportunity to play a game. This was a game all about having conversations. We had conversations about who would win in a fight between Wise Men and shepherds, what our favorite Christmas Carols are and why and what super powers we might want for the new year. The game is called Table Talk for Christmas.

Table Talk for Christmas is an all age family game that explores the spirit and meaning of the Christmas story. The idea is a fun game through which we can share our own beliefs and feelings about Christmas and how our faith influences us particularly at this time of year.

If you are seeing friends or family this Christmas, if there might be time to play a game or two, why not try one that might help you share a little of what you think the true meaning of Christmas is. Table Talk for Christmas is available free now on iOS and GooglePlay for smart phones and tablets or can be purchased from table-talk.org

December 2015

Thursday 26th November 2015 17:04

One of the things I love about Christmas (aside from the wonderful story about God becoming a human baby) is the opportunity to watch some wonderful TV. I am sure that most of us have some things that are ‘must watch’ over the Christmas period. It might be the Dr Who Christmas Special or finding out who, on your favourite soap, you thought was dead but isn’t really. It might be the Queens Speech on Christmas day or reruns of Only Fools and Horses. I like the opportunity to watch some Christmas films.

One film that will almost certainly be on at some point this year is Home Alone. There is a scene near the start of the second Home Alone film where the star, a young boy, is racing with his family through the airport to get a plane. He stops for a moment to sort something out and when he looks up he can only see the back of his Father’s long brown coat. So he follows dad through the airport and boards the plane only later to find out that whilst his family were on their way to Florida he had followed a complete stranger, with the same coat as his dad, onto a plane to New York.

This Christmas at Potters Bar Baptist Church we are going to be thinking about who and what we are following. We are going to journey with the Wise Men as they follow a star in search of a king. And, though they get lost on the way, as they end up finding the Light of the World.

I wonder who we think we are following: Is it following our own path, doing as we please? Is it following the baby Jesus meek and mild? Is it the crucified Christ who showed distain for the religious and political power?

Who do you think you are following?

Who should you be following?

Let’s find out together this Christmas.

Joel Mercer

November 2015

Friday 30th October 2015 14:42

‘Tonight, Opportunity Knocks for….’ If that phrase reminds you of Saturday nights in front of the TV, or even the radio, you are probably a little older than me. And I mean that most sincerely folks. Opportunity Knocks was the first in a long line of talent shows that invite the audience at home to vote for a winner. Today we have the X-Factor and Britain’s got Talent. On all of these shows there are people trying to make the best of the opportunity in front of them. They have a goal: to make it big, to be famous, to sing or dance or make fools of themselves in front of royalty and the world.

I sometimes wonder if we as Christians are as good at making the best of the opportunities before us as the hopefuls on these talent shows. Ephesians 5:15-16a instructs us:

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.

We are gearing up for a time in the year when we have many opportunities to share our faith with others. At the end of this month we have our Christmas fayre when we will see many people in the church who would not normally come in. Into next month Christmas will be all around us and this can be a great opportunity. People are more willing to speak about Jesus, there are plenty of things happening to invite others to, and lots of ways we can show the love of Christ.

We need to be ready for these opportunities. 1 Peter 3:15 says:

In your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.

The answer we should be prepared to give doesn’t need to be complicated or clever. It needs to be sincere. Why do you have hope? What does Jesus mean to you? I want to encourage you all to begin, today, to think about who you might share your faith with over the next few months. Who does God want you to speak to or invite? Pray that God would give you more and more opportunities to share his love, in word and in deed. And pray that we might all be able to make the most of these opportunities as they come our way.


Tuesday 29th September 2015 19:59

October 2015

Tuesday 29th September 2015 19:53

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:8-10

As a minster I do my best. As a human minister my best is somewhat less than perfect.

I love you, I believe that God has called me to be your minister because he wants me to love you, to show you hospitality and to serve you with the gifts he has given me. But I know that sometimes some of you feel a bit unloved. Sometimes you feel a little neglected. For this I am sorry and I hope that together we can solve this problem.

From now on if you are feeling unloved or neglected. If you are thinking that I, as the minister haven’t spoken to you recently, if you are concerned because no-one in the church has popped in to see you recently then this is for you. Every Friday, whilst Coffee Morning is on, I will be available at church. If you want to chat to me about anything at all this is the one time in the week you know where I will be, to talk to, to pray with, to listen. I will be there to show you love and provide you hospitality.

I need to ask you all to do something for me though; this is a joint responsibly, to love each other, to be gracious with each other. So please don’t get too upset with me if I haven’t spoken to you in a while, take the initiative yourself to speak with me, either on a Sunday morning (though these can be very busy times) or at these Friday sessions.

So please be gracious with me when I am not perfect and above all love each other deeply, just as Peter instructs us all to do.


September 2015

Tuesday 1st September 2015 20:08

This month marks the start of a new phase in my life and in the life of this church as I begin working with you full time. We seem to have been talking about it for ages and now it is here I wonder what expectations we all have of it. Maybe you are expecting hundreds of people to start flooding through the doors, maybe you are expecting me to pop in to visit each one of you every week, maybe you are expecting my preaching to dramatically improve. Maybe you are not expecting anything to change at all (If these are your expectations be prepared to be disappointed).

One of the things I have been doing over the summer is praying about expectations: my own expectations of myself and God’s expectations of me and us as a church. While focusing on these things my mind keeps coming back to Matthew 5:16:

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

God expects us to shine. God expects us to show others him in such a way that they will wish to glorify him. This must be our primary concern. So I will be encouraging us all to shine, there will be opportunities to share God’s love with others. But I cannot do all the things that God has planned for this church alone, God wants to work in and with every one of us.

So let me start this new phase with a challenge. Will you shine? Will you let God work in your life and transform you? Will you let God work through you to show others who he is? Will you step out and do things that make you uncomfortable to extend his kingdom? Will you journey with me in sharing our Lord, his love and power, with this town?

Remember the light that shines through us is not ours alone but a reflection of the one whose power is at work in us.

With God’s Power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

Rev Joel Mercer

Joint statement re Calais

Thursday 20th August 2015 08:15

A joint statement on the situation in Calais from the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Church of
Scotland, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church
Dr Jill Barber
Vice-President of the Methodist Conference
The Revd Lynn Green
General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain
The Revd David Grosch-Miller
Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church
The Rt Revd Angus Morrison
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
The Revd Steve Wild
President of the Methodist Conference

As churches with members directly involved in assisting the people in Calais seeking sanctuary in the
UK, we believe it is important that public debate is grounded in values of compassion and that
decisions are made on the basis of facts. In recent weeks discussion has increasingly appeared to be
based on the principle of self-interest. Our faith instructs us not to fear the stranger, but to love our
neighbour. We view the situation with growing alarm and anger.

We are compelled to speak out on this issue. As Christian churches we follow One who was himself a
refugee and who demonstrated that all people have an inherent, God-given dignity.
Our Scriptures teach the importance of love and compassion for all who are destitute, including
people of other nationalities who come to live in our communities.

We do not speak out as detached, comfortable observers but as leaders of churches who are actively
ministering to those involved. In east Kent our churches have publicly offered practical support and
help to teenage asylum seekers due to be housed in their town. Through our international links with
Baptists in France, we are also supporting work amongst unaccompanied children in Calais. St
Andrews Scots Church in Malta, a joint Methodist-Church of Scotland congregation in Valletta, runs
the Out of Africa into Malta project to assist migrants. However we cannot play our part effectively
without a political backdrop that seeks a sustainable and just solution in the longer term.
And we stand in solidarity with the remarks made recently by the Rt Rev Trevor Willmott, the Bishop
of Dover, the Jewish Council for Racial Equality and in support of the pioneering work of the
Churches’ Commission for Migrants in Europe.

We welcome the affirmation by the Home Secretary that Europe will ‘always provide protection for
those genuinely fleeing conflict or persecution’.
However, the language in which the Calais situation is being discussed tends too often to demonise,
denigrate or dehumanise the individuals seeking refuge in Britain.

To talk of those gathering at Calais as a ‘swarm’, or ‘marauding around the area’ encourages people
to see those in desperation as less than human, and so less deserving of sympathy, respect or dignity.
To incite fear that by offering the hand of friendship and welcome we may damage our own standard
of living implies that British lives and well-being are somehow more valuable than those of others.
We share the concern of all involved to see a peaceful and humane solution to this particular
expression of a far broader catastrophe. While we recognise the need for security to be increased at
Calais, to better ensure the safety of all involved, we cannot see that more guards, sniffer dogs and
fencing will alone bring such a solution.

We therefore call on the Government to promote a more informed and higher level of debate on the
issue – one which acknowledges, for example, that:
* many of the migrants congregating at Calais are people genuinely fleeing repression who have
real stories of suffering and hardship to tell – and that some are unaccompanied children;
* the numbers involved do not warrant talk of an ‘invasion’ or ‘flood’ of migrants;
* the people at Calais represent a tiny fraction of the overall number of migrants who have
entered the EU in the past year
* in 2014 Germany took three times more asylum seekers than the UK's 14,000, and Sweden
twice as many; France, Italy and even Switzerland also granted asylum to more people than
the UK;
* the disruption caused to travellers is also a consequence of issues unconnected with the
situation in Calais, including industrial action by ferry workers;
* historically the UK has welcomed people fleeing persecution, including Jews escaping from
Germany during the Second World War;
* the UK has been militarily involved in some of the situations that have given rise to the
persecutions from which people are fleeing;
* contributions to this debate should always adopt language which better reflects the British
values of compassion, hospitality and respect for human dignity.
We also call on the Government, in its response to this emergency, to:
* recognise that most migrants cannot be returned to their country of origin: in many cases it is
not even possible to be certain of an individual’s country of origin due to a lack of
* promote the establishment of proper, EU-run processing centres at key entry points in Europe
(such as southern Italy and Greece);
* accept the need for the UK to take its share of migrants as other European countries are
already doing.

And we ask all our congregations and members to respond to an urgent call to prayer, to remember
in our churches the importance and equal value God places on every human life, and to seek wisdom
that we can challenge injustice and work for peace for the whole world. Let us seek direction and
discernment for ourselves and for our leaders for solutions to this ongoing crisis, for the sake of all people.

July 2015 - Ordination

Tuesday 14th July 2015 08:50

We are going to have an ordination this month at PBBC. It probably wont look anything like the photo here. No-one will be wearing a funny hat and I’m pretty sure I don’t get a gold throne to sit on (though if you wish to get me one I wont protest).

Ordinations don’t come around very often for most Baptist Churches so you will be forgiven if you don’t entirely know what its all about. Essentially Ordination is about recognising a person’s call (in this case mine) to serve as a minister in the church. In ordination that call is publicly recognised and the individual is set apart and commissioned to serve. Ordinations only happen in the Baptist Union when one of its churches recognises God’s call on the individual and invites them to minister in that church. When you all agreed to invite me to become your full time minister you were also affirming my call to Baptist Ministry and commending me for Ordination – did you know that?

A good, simple example of what we will be doing in the ordination service is found in Acts 13. The church in Antioch had been praying and…

The Holy Spirit said. ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed hands on them and sent them off.

There is something else happening this month at church that is far more important. Rosie is going to be baptised. Again it probably won’t look a lot like the picture. We will do it inside and Rosie probably won’t have a beard. Baptism is similar to ordination in that it involves being set apart. In Baptism a person is setting themselves apart for God and committing to follow his calling on their life.

Not everyone who follows Christ is called to be ordained but everyone is called to be baptised. Not everyone is set apart to be a Minister of a church but everyone is called to serve God in whatever capacity he may choose for us. I wonder; what have you been called to? What does God wish to set you aside for?

Please come and celebrate with us my ordination and induction 3pm on 18th July and Rosie’s baptism as part of our worship 10:30 26th July.

Every Blessing,

Week of Prayer 1st to 7th June

Saturday 30th May 2015 16:03

Potters Bar Baptist Church Week of Prayer 2015

A couple of years ago at PBBC our verse for the year was Philippians 4:6 which says:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Prayer is an integral part of our life together as a church. By praying we lift to the Lord those things that make us anxious. By praying we ask for God to intervene in the situation in which we find ourselves. By praying we discern together God’s will for our community. By praying we ask for God’s guidance and listen for his response.

Last year we set aside a week to specially pray for God to speak to us and we feel it is important to discipline ourselves to pray together in such a way again this year. The week of prayer will be launched by Joel during the morning service on Sunday 31st May

Throughout the first week of June there will be daily opportunities to join together for prayer on specific areas of the life of our church as we look to the future. During these sessions we will be making a special effort to seek God’s guidance and take time to hear from him

The sessions will be at different times of the day to enable as many as possible to attend at least some of the prayer-times if not all of them. If you are unable to come to pray together at church please remember to pray for the church on your own and let us know if you believe God has been speaking to you.

An important biblical discipline when seeking God’s leading is to fast and we would encourage you, if you are able, to fast the meal immediately before each time of prayer.

Monday 1st in the afternoon from 4pm to 5pm
- joining with the Bible Study Group to pray about discipleship in the church

Tuesday 2nd in the morning from 8am to 9am
- praying about the way we worship and particularly our Sunday services

Wednesday 3rd in the morning from 10am to 11am
- praying about our work with children and young people.

Thursday 4th in the evening from 7pm to 8pm
- praying about our outreach
Also a room at the Church will be open from 9am to 9pm so that people can pop in and pray as convenient to them

Friday 5th in the afternoon from 2pm to 3pm
- praying about the church fellowship

Saturday 6th in the morning from 9:30am to 10:30am
- praying particularly for God’s guidance and the future of our church

Then on the morning of Sunday 7th June, we will be reflecting on what God has been saying to us in the week.

June 2015

Saturday 30th May 2015 16:00

As I write I’m feeling a little melancholy. Having spent the last three years working towards Baptist Union accreditation and a Masters degree in Theology I have handed in my last assignment and it is coming to an end. Those friends who I have spent a part of each week with at college are dispersing to churches across the country and things are going to be different.

I guess we all come to ending in our lives. Times when things, for one reason or another can no longer carry on as they have. And endings can be hard. They often mean saying goodbye to people or things that we have loved.

The Gospel of Luke ends with the disciples saying goodbye to the master and friend that had been the centre of their lives for three years or more. Luke 24:50-35 says this:

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

There are two things I think we can learn from this ending. The first is that though endings can be sad, there is also Joy to be found. The disciples returned to Jerusalem with ‘great joy.’ I’m quite joyous that I will no longer have to travel across London every week and spend a night away from my family. Even at the end of our lives, as God’s people, we can find joy in knowing that our eternity is safe with him.

The second thing that we might learn is that this is not the end of the story. Luke picks up where this leave off in Acts 1. Whilst Jesus ascension marks the end of his time on earth it also marks the start of something else, the beginnings of the church and of the whole world getting to hear about him. Even in the sadness of something ending God can grow and new and wonderful beginning.

Maybe I will write more on beginnings next time but for now let us look forward to all the future holds, the new things that God has for us and endeavour to take joy in all things, even life’s endings.

With every blessing,

June 2015

Saturday 30th May 2015 15:58

As I write I’m feeling a little melancholy. Having spent the last three years working towards Baptist Union accreditation and a Masters degree in Theology I have handed in my last assignment and it is coming to an end. Those friends who I have spent a part of each week with at college are dispersing to churches across the country and things are going to be different.

I guess we all come to ending in our lives. Times when things, for one reason or another can no longer carry on as they have. And endings can be hard. They often mean saying goodbye to people or things that we have loved.

The Gospel of Luke ends with the disciples saying goodbye to the master and friend that had been the centre of their lives for three years or more. Luke 24:50-35 says this:

When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

There are two things I think we can learn from this ending. The first is that though endings can be sad, there is also Joy to be found. The disciples returned to Jerusalem with ‘great joy.’ I’m quite joyous that I will no longer have to travel across London every week and spend a night away from my family. Even at the end of our lives, as God’s people, we can find joy in knowing that our eternity is safe with him.

The second thing that we might learn is that this is not the end of the story. Luke picks up where this leave off in Acts 1. Whilst Jesus ascension marks the end of his time on earth it also marks the start of something else, the beginnings of the church and of the whole world getting to hear about him. Even in the sadness of something ending God can grow and new and wonderful beginning.

Maybe I will write more on beginnings next time but for now let us look forward to all the future holds, the new things that God has for us and endeavour to take joy in all things, even life’s endings.

With every blessing,

May 2015

Thursday 30th April 2015 21:58

There is an election taking place this month, I’m sure most of you will have noticed. Politicians have been doing the usual rounds of kissing hands and shaking babies and trying to tell us what they think we want to hear. I’m guessing we are all fed up of the whole thing by now. Some Christians will say that we should separate faith from politics, that a minister should avoid speaking about it at all costs. I don’t believe that, nor do I believe that it is my place to tell you who to vote for. Though I hope you do vote and I hope you do so considering the values of your faith rather than just which party would make sure you had the most cash in your pocket.

And this is really what I want to think about here, it is clear that the politics of this country are all about cash flow. The assumption from our politicians is that their ultimate goal is to increase wealth. Implicit in this is the belief that if we have more money we will all live happier better lives. Now of course the politicians disagree about exactly how to make us all richer and the way that wealth is best distributed and choosing between their ideologies is a task I will leave to you on polling day.

Instead I want to remind us all that the Kingdom of God is not judged by economics. A good, joyful, contented life according to Jesus has little to do with how much money one has. In fact Jesus said that it is more difficult for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to enter God’s Kingdom (Matthew 19:24). As Christians our political priority should not be economics, our priorities should be based on Kingdom values. What we want for our country should not be about money but about people.

The most important thing in the kingdom of God is love. Love the Lord your God and your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27). Rather than being primarily concerned about money lets try and be concerned about loving others. All others not matter their sex or race, social class or sexuality. By all means look at which political parties have policies that might fit with loving God and one another. But more importantly let us encourage our politicians and one another to change our priorities. Let’s love first.

Joel Mercer

Teaching Series

Sunday 29th March 2015 16:09

April 2015

Sunday 29th March 2015 16:02

As Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a Donkey the crowds sing “Hosanna to the Son of David” they praise him as the King that they had been waiting for. A week later the people of Jerusalem are demanding not just his death but also his torture on a cross.

What had Jesus done in this one week to upset people so much? Had he gone on a killing spree in the city? Had he been stealing from all the citizens? Had he been racist or sexist or homophobic? No, he’d done none of these things. He had upset some people in the temple when he was angry about how they were using it but surely that wasn’t enough for the crowd to be demanding his death. So what has he done?

I think probably, the thing that upset the people in Jerusalem the most was that Jesus had disappointed them. They had expectations of him, they wanted a king that was going to kick the Romans out of the city, they may well have all been sharpening their swords for the fight ever since they saw him on his donkey. But this wasn’t the sort of man Jesus was. When instead of inciting rebellion he started to heal the sick and teach about morality and God, they were disappointed, they felt he had let them down.

I wonder if you have ever felt let down by God, if you have felt like he has failed you, not done what you expected him to do. Sometimes our expectations of God are wrong, we expect him to be the sort of person that we want him to be rather than understanding who he is. And then, when he doesn’t act in the way we want or expect we feel disappointed with God.

One thing we can always rely on from our Lord is his love. Jesus tells us in John 15:3 ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ Jesus didn’t’ fail to meet expectations in Jerusalem, he exceeded them, he made an ultimate demonstration of the love of God for man, of the love of a man for his friends, he died for us.

So if you ever feel disappointed by God remember, he is not the person you want him to be, he is who he is and he has already given you the greatest gift he ever could, he has given his life.

Joel Mercer

Guess what? I do do some studying!

Friday 27th February 2015 21:47

The end of my studies are in sight and my graduation and ordination are starting to feel very close now. I have a few assignments left to hand in but the most important, the one that I will have spent the best part of 9 months working on is my Masters Dissertation. 15,000 words on a topic of my choice.

For those that are interested the rest of this article is going to be a brief description of my dissertation. For those that are not interested (Let’s face it even I’m getting a little bored of it after so long) just let me express my thanks for your continued love and support.

The aim of my research
Essentially my dissertation is about Baptist Unity. My title is this: ‘Unity in Diversity: What baptistic convictions might enable the Baptist Union of Great Britain to maintain unity in the light of divided views on human sexuality?’

Sounds exciting doesn’t it? I should clarify; I’m not writing about the theology of sexuality or gay marriage, my assumption is that most Baptist churches and indeed the union itself will inevitably have people with a range of views on these matters. My interest is what things there are in Baptist life and thought that can bind us together despite our differences.

My solution
Just like any good sermon I’m using three points to try and make a case for unity, three things that Baptists look at in a unique way. These are: Ideals, Authority and Purpose.

I argue that as Baptists we share a set of ideals that are unique. A major aspect of this is the way in which we have covenanted together, promised to support one another under the BU declaration of principle.

I also suggest that the way Baptists uphold the Authority of Christ is profoundly important. His is the ultimate authority, we appeal to scripture as it reveals Jesus and our churches are governed by the community of God’s people coming together to try and discern Christ’s will rather than any individual imposing his or her own.

Finally I discuss the centrality of purpose to Baptist belief. We are bound together not just by a pension scheme but in order to achieve something. As Baptists our priority should be missional, sharing Christ’s love with others, bringing the kingdom of God. As a union of churches, sharing resources and supporting each other, we can achieve this task better than we could on our own.

I hope to be able to conclude that these three things that unite us are more important that theological arguments about sexuality or many other debates that distract us from what we should be about.

More info
If you’d like any more information about my dissertation (or anything else you think I might be able to help with) please do contact me – but maybe after my deadlines have passed at the end of May!

With every blessing,

March 2015

Friday 27th February 2015 21:45


Over the next few months (and maybe years) from time to time we at PBBC are going to be talking about vision. Vision could be a reference to what you can see, it might refer to a supernatural experience – a vision from God, in business vision is predicting future trends and planning to make the most of them. I think that when we talk about vision in church its really all of these things.

It’s about looking to the future and working out what sort of church we need to be to meet future tasks. It’s about a supernatural experience, discerning what God wants us to do, hearing his voice. It’s about sight, about seeing what sort of church we are and what sort of church we could be and then working out how to bridge that gap. Mostly its about thinking about what our mission is, what God wants us to do, and then getting on with it.

We probably all know these words from Jeremiah 29: ‘For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future… You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you.’

Our job, as we think about vision, as we think about our mission is twofold. We need to trust that God has great plans for us, plans to prosper us and we need to earnestly seek his will, get to know his plans and then get on with them.

With every blessing,

February 2015

Wednesday 11th February 2015 22:14

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Ephesians 6:13-17

We are in a battle, make no mistake, we have been commissioned into the army of the Lord to fight for his kingdom. We fight not with weapons of destruction but with weapons that transform, with the power of the Holy Spirit. We fight not to kill others but to enable them to live. This is our task as God’s people, to bring the Kingdom of God, a kingdom of love and hope and life into the places that are dark.

As Paul writes about putting on the armor of God he was probably imagining a Roman solider dressed for combat. Did you know that the metal Jacket that Roman soldiers wore, made up of iron strips, was so heavy that they had to help one another to put them on? It is important the remember that as we live the Christian life, as we try and spread the good news, bring the kingdom of God, as we fight this battle, we do it together. No one of us can fight this battle alone, or even get ready for it on our own. Just like the Roman soldiers we need each other.

So two things to leave with you: Firstly, don’t try and go it alone, when life gets hard, when the enemy seems overwhelming, when things are hard, seek help. We are put in this family of believers together in order to support and care for each other. Part of that means allowing others to care for you. Secondly, look out for each other, pray for each other, read and study scripture together, build each other up and help get each other ready for the battle to bring the Kingdom of Go to our community.


Happy New Year - January 2015

Saturday 27th December 2014 12:34

Happy New Year! 2014 was a wonderful year for us as a church. We have grown in number, we have grown in our relationships with Jesus, we have been challenged to share the good news of the love of God with all of creation.

All of these things are still important; we need to keep doing them, to keep growing to keep sharing our faith, our relationship with the living Jesus with others. But there are other things that are important in our relationship with God and our relationships with one another as well and this new year see a slight shift in our focus as we move forward together as a church.

Our verse for the year 2015 is from Ephesians 3:20 from the NCV:

‘With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine.’

We really want to focus this year on the amazing God that we worship, the amazing God that we have a relationship with, the amazing God whose love we are seeking to share with others. Our themes on Sunday mornings for the first part of the year are going to be about God being much, much more than we can ask or imagine: Much more powerful and loving, gracious and merciful, Just an righteous. We are going to think together about what our amazing God is like and what that might mean for us.

So let me encourage you this year, come along, find out what God is really like and join us as we worship the amazing Father, Son and Holy Spirit who love us. And let’s pray that 2015 is even more wonderful than last year was.


In Unexpected Places

Friday 28th November 2014 22:08

Have you ever done that thing where you are wandering round Tesco (or Sainsbury’s, if you’re that way inclined) and you look up to find someone smiling at you as if they know you. You smile back but at the same time you are racking your brain trying to remember who they are, they are certainly familiar, but you cannot work out why. This happens to me a lot, I think the problem is finding people in unexpected places. If you are used to seeing someone in just one place, church maybe or outside the school gates, it can take a while to place them when they turn up somewhere else. The unexpected can throw us. Your brain thinks that people from church should stay in church, how dare they be shopping in Tesco? That’s just confusing!

This Christmas at PBBC we are going to be joining the Shepherds and the Wise Men as they go looking for a king – a king that they will eventually find in the last place anyone would expect a king to be. We are going to be thinking about finding God in unexpected places.

Anyone who has had children will know that sometimes things turn up in unexpected places. From remote controls in toy boxes and crockery in children’s beds to peas in nostrils and mobile phones in the bath, expecting the unexpected is part of being a parent.

As we find it more and more difficult to see Jesus amongst the trappings of Christmas I want to encourage you this month to go looking for him in unexpected places. With God we should always be expecting him to work in the unexpected, to turn up in the most unlikely of places. Keep you eyes and ears open for God and what he is doing. Seek him, join with him where you find him at work. Don’t be surprised if you bump into him in Tesco.

Merry Christmas,

November 2014

Saturday 1st November 2014 00:00

‘What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?’

Courage. Be strong and have courage. That is what God tells Joshua at the start of the book we are studying together on Sunday mornings. Joshua has a task to complete, has has a land to conquer, he has a nation with a history of grumbling and dissent to lead. God says ‘It’s OK, I’m with you, we can do this together. Be strong and have courage’ (I’m paraphrasing a little!).

Last year we held our first ever Christmas Fayre, we didn’t know how it was going to go or what was going to happen, in some cases we didn’t really know what we were doing. But through a lot of prayer, working with God and having courage to go ahead it was a great success. By the time you read this the chances are that we will have had a second successful Christmas Fayre.

Stepping out to do something new can be scary. Trying to share our faith with others can be scary but knowing God is with us, working with us, we need only one thing: Courage.

So in parallel to the quote I started with by the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz I ask:

What made Joshua work with the Lord to conquer the Promised-Land? Courage! What makes this church continue to do new things for God? Courage! What do we need in order to share our faith with others? Courage!

And so, in the power of God, working with him, be strong and have courage.

With every blessing,

Making Plans - October 2014

Sunday 28th September 2014 15:59

In Matthew 6 Jesus tells the people that they shouldn’t worry about what is to come but instead focus on today. They say the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. It is possible these two things mean we shouldn’t make any plans for the future.

If we at Potters Bar Baptist Church had been making plans for the future when I arrived as a minister in training two years ago I wonder what we might have said. If we had made plans this time last year I wonder what they would have been. We may well have begun to make plans for another minister in training once my time was up, or a part time minister. I’m not sure that any of us were sure of what God was going to do. In Jeremiah 29, speaking to a nation in exile, God speaks through the prophet:

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 19:11-14a

The key when looking to the future is not to refrain from making plans but rather to find out what God has planned and get on board with it. As of the church members meeting in September Potters Bar Baptist Church has made a plan for the future. Or, to put it another way, we have acknowledged God’s plans for our future and decided to follow where he leads.

So once I finish college next summer I won’t be leaving to pastures new but rather I will loose the ‘in-training’ part of my title and pick up a few more hours each week.

Vicki and I are delighted that we can continue to be part of the family here. Thank-you for all the support you have given us in our first two years here and we look forward to what God is going to be doing among us and through us in the future.

So let us all look forward to the plans that God has for his church in Potters Bar to earnestly seek what he is doing and when we find out what those plans are, let us continue to jump on board with enthusiasm.

With every blessing,
Minister-in-Training (for now!)

September 2014

Thursday 28th August 2014 11:14

Bbllliiinnngggg dum dum dum-dum dum dum dum-dum dum dum dum-dum dum dum dum-dum DUM DUM DUM-DUM DUM DUM DUM-DUM Baa Daa

Your mission, should you choose to accept it…

For those unable to decipher my dum-dumming the above is supposed to be the theme tune to Mission Impossible a show which had a team of US agents taking on missions that no-one else could do, missions that seem impossible, and always coming out on top at the end of the day.

This autumn we are going to be studying together the book of Joshua. Joshua was a man that had been given what seemed like an impossible mission. Take over from the great Moses and lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, defeating all the mighty armies within.

We also have a mission from God; our verse for the year reminds us that we should be proclaiming the good news to all creation Matthew 28:19 puts it this way: ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’

Making disciples of all nations may seem like an impossible mission, far too big and daunting for us to achieve. However, just like Joshua, we have a God who goes with us into our mission, enabling us – by his spirit to succeed.

And a part of that great mission from God is a part only you can do. Just like James Phelps and his team in the TV show took on missions no-one else could manage, there are people in your life that no-one is able to share Christ with.

So let me encourage with you, as we journey with Joshua, think about your mission from God, trust that he goes with you and step out in faith to share his love and spread his kingdom.

Joel Mercer

July 2014

Friday 27th June 2014 22:01

Let me remind you of our verse for the year:

‘Go into all the world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.’
Mark 16:15

This instruction may seem a little daunting at first, all of the world is a big place and all creation is an awful lot of people to proclaim good news to. But as we face this daunting task we should remember something else Jesus said as he was leaving them to go to his Father in heaven. He told them in Acts 1:8 to go to Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria and the ends of the earth. Their mission started in Jerusalem, with those people nearest to them.

So this summertime I have a challenge for all of those who are part of our family here at Potters Bar Baptist Church. I want to challenge you to start sharing the love of Christ with those nearest to you. Invite your neighbours to something. I intend to invite those who live in the houses on our block to a BBQ this summer, to get to know them, spend time with them and begin to express the love of Jesus to them. Why don’t you do something similar? If you don’t have the same love of BBQs that I do why not have a tea party, a meal or bake cakes and distribute them to your neighbours. Do something to build relationships and share Christ.

So there you are, a special mission for the summer months: make friends, build relationships, share Christ.


June 2014

Tuesday 27th May 2014 17:04

Last year our verse for the year reminded us that we should do nothing without giving over to the Lord:

‘In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.’
Philippians 2:6

We start June this year with a week of prayer. Specifically we are going to be praying for the future of the church. Praying about our mission and ministry and finances, praying about the whole life of this family of faith. Every day that week (2nd-8th June) there will be an opportunity to meet together and pray with others, also all day on Thursday, from 9am-9pm the church will be open for people to drop in and pray.

The idea is that we give the future of the church over to God but also that we expect him to speak to us. We are going to be listening for his voice and anticipating his guidance. We are moving into a key time in the life of our fellowship as I, and the Elders and Deacons, begin to plan for a time next year when I finish my period as minister in training at PBBC. Details of time of meetings can be found in this magazine of at the back of church.

Please, if you are able, meet with us at church this week to pray for our future. If you cannot make it to one of our meetings please pray in your own quite times and if you feel God might be saying something to you get in touch.

Many blessings,

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday 30th April 2014 21:20

The church is 225(ish) this year and part of our building celebrates its 50th birthday. You will know, I hope, that the buildings themselves are not what make a church but rather it is us, the people that are the church. So therefore I think we can legitimately claim that it is our birthday. So again I say, Happy Birthday.

Details of what we are doing to celebrate our birthday should be appearing elsewhere so rather than repeat them I just want to spend a few moments thinking about what these landmarks mean for us as a community, a family of believers.

1 John 3:1 says: ‘See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!’ For 225 years on this site children of God have worshipped their Father. I think that we are still here worshipping him now is a wonderful testament to just how much he has lavished his love upon this church over the years. We praise our Lord and God, he has sustained us by his spirit, been faithful to this family through good times and struggles and continues to walk with us and guide us today.

As we look forward to the next 225 my prayer for us is that we will be a church that reflects this passage from Ephesians 4:15&16:

‘Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.’

So as we celebrate and praise God for his faithfulness in the past we also look to our future. We ask him to help us to grow in love, to become a mature family of believers with Christ at our head, doing the work that he has for us; sharing his faithfulness and love with others.

So happy birthday to us, and may we have many more.


Baptisms of Sharon and Davie

Monday 21st April 2014 00:00

The baptisms of Sharon and Davie took place on Easter Sunday 20th April 2014 at Potters Bar Baptist Church.

April 2014

Sunday 30th March 2014 14:42

The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptised and wash your sins away, calling on his name.
Acts 22:14-16

It’s April and this year (as in most years) that means Easter. Easter celebrates the dramatic last days of Jesus’ ministry on earth. It’s a wonderful story with elation and betrayal, touching moments of friendship and court drama, wrongful imprisonment and anger at injustice, someone even looses an ear.

Ultimately though, amongst all this, is the story of Jesus who was both God and man being put to death on a cross even though he had done nothing wrong. It is the story of Jesus dying in order to re-establish humanities relationship with God, your relationship with God. It is the story of Jesus being raised from death after three days, breaking the power of death and providing us a route to eternal life with him. It is the wonderful story of a God who became human and suffered to bring us hope and joy.

On Easter Sunday at PBBC, in the midst of celebrating all of this, we are going to have some baptisms. For us this means baptising individuals who have made a decision of their own to follow Christ, to recognise what he did for them at Easter and commit to him. For our fellowship this is a wonderful time, where we celebrate the power of Jesus, we remember what he has done for us and we rejoice with those being baptised in obedience to him.

I would like to encourage you all, whether you normally come to church on a Sunday morning or not, come on Easter Sunday. Come and find out about the power of Jesus death and resurrection and what it means. Come and see adults being baptised, not with a sprinkle of water but by immersion. Come and celebrate the fact that Jesus died and rose from the dead for you.

With every blessing,

Talking the talk and walking the walk.

Saturday 1st March 2014 11:17

Talking the talk and walking the walk.

Most preachers, myself included, hope that members of the congregation listen to a sermon, take its main points on board and go away and do something about it. Most of us understand this is not always the case, but it is always our hope. Rarely do we have the opportunity to see the effect of a preaching series in action.

So I am excited this month, that having spent six weeks in our morning services learning about Sharing Christ, we now have the opportunity to do it. We have talked the talk and now it is time to walk the walk.

James tells us that without appropriate action our faith is useless:
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead … You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
James 2:14-17, 24
We do not truly have a living relationship with Christ is our relationship with him is not reflected in the lives we lead, in the things we choose to do and say.
So this month Potters Bar Baptist Church is seeking to Share Christ with our community by offering to pray for our neighbours. This means that some of us will be going out onto the estate to drop off and collect leaflets and talk to people. Some of us with stay in the church praying for those who are out and for the people they might meet. For full details see the back page of last month’s newsletter. Please consider if you might be able to commit to one of these roles.
Above all remember that we are called to share Christ with others, this is an important part of a living relationship with God. It doesn’t matter if you cannot join us in our prayer initiative. What matters is that your relationship with Christ is reflected in what you do.

Praying for our community

Saturday 8th February 2014 17:12

This March Potters Bar Baptist Church is seeking to pray for the needs of individuals within our community.

Why are we doing this?

We want to engage with our community, to build relationships with those who live close by, we want to share the love of Christ with people and we feel a good way to do this is by offering to pray for them.

When and where will it happen?

Sunday afternoons in March from 4pm for a couple of hours on the Ashwood estate.

How will it work?

• Week One: Prayer walking the estate; asking God to take charge of what we do, asking him to begin working in the hearts of those we will come into contact with, asking him to give us strength and courage for the task.
• Week two: Dropping leaflets through doors that explain who we are and what we are doing with space on them for people to fill out their details and prayer requests.
• Weeks three & four: Collecting prayer requests, possibly praying for people in their homes or gathering up leaflets for prayer later.
• Week five: Praying! Following up contacts where necessary.

These timescales are estimated; they are largely dependant on a good number of volunteers!

What do I need to do?

Consider what role you might play. Could you:
• Be out on the estate each week, delivering and collecting leaflets in teams of two or three, praying for people.
• Be in the church while this is going on, praying for those who are out and for those they will meet.
• Commit to on-going prayer for any requests that we receive.

Please remember that it is our responsibility as a church and as individuals to share Christ with others and that a wonderful way to show his love and concern for people is to offer to pray for them.

Money, money, money.

Saturday 8th February 2014 17:09

Many of you, like me, may have come to the Baptist Church from another denomination. You may have arrived wondering what was different between Baptists and Anglicans and Methodist and Catholics and everyone else. You may still be wondering!

One of the major differences between denominations is about how they are governed, about who is in charge. For the Roman Catholics ultimately it is the pope, for the Church of England it is the General Synod, for us as Baptists it is the church members of each individual congregation. Whilst we are part of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, it is there to support and encourage us but it imposes very little, we get to make our own decisions about most things.

This has an effect on our finances. We choose how we spend the money that comes into our collection each week. We don’t have to send most of that money to the Baptist Union, the church membership can discern for themselves what they believe God wants our income spent on.

This also means that we do not, in the normal course of things get money from the union or anywhere other than what comes into the offering each week. Unlike the Anglican, Roman Catholic or Methodist churches the upkeep of our buildings and the cost of our ministers are our responsibility to pay.

The conclusion of all this is that for Potters Bar Baptist Church, as we seek to grow and hopefully to employ a full time minister in the summer of 2015, the only way for this to happen is an increase in giving. This may come through those who already attend our church prayerfully increasing what they give, or it may come through new people joining our church over the coming months.

So let me challenge you:
• Pray: That as the Lord guides us into the future he will provide all we need; physically, spiritually and financially
• Consider: Increasing your giving to the life and work of the church
• Talk: As always share your faith with others that they might find the life that is in Jesus and that they might share, with all of us, the continuing work of God’s in this town.

Joel Mercer

February 2014

Friday 31st January 2014 20:19

As I write we have just spent Sunday morning thinking about being strong and courageous in sharing Christ, just as Joshua was to be strong and courageous as he led the people into the Promised Land. At that time Israel was in transition; the people had got used Moses leading them and now he was dead and Joshua has taken over. It may well have been a confusing time for them as they got used to a new bosses way of doing things.

It’s like the current situation with Manchester United football club, they have been used to Alex Ferguson’s way of doing things for so many years having a new manager is a bit of a shock to the system. David Moyes is not a bad manager at all but he is different and so United are struggling a little this season.

For those of you who have been at the church for a number of years the last 18 months may have seemed a little like a whirlwind, a new minister coming in with new ideas, new ways of doing things and making all sorts of changes. Some of you may have experienced this from time to time in your work, a new manger with new expectations throws everything into an uproar.

Amid all this we should remind ourselves of the words of Isaiah 58:11

‘The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail’

It is the Lord, not our manager or minister, who should be our guide. Though human expectations change the Lord’s plans are steadfast. All we do, as individuals and as a church, should be done under the guidance of our Father in heaven because he wills it not just to satisfy our own fads and feelings. This being the case we need to remember that Jesus was very clear about what his church should be doing. It should be loving and it should be sharing him with others.

I have been clogging up your magazine this month with articles, please particularly note the article on praying for our community and think about how you might be involved in the plans the Lord has for us as he guides us all into the future.


January 2014

Saturday 28th December 2013 13:05

At the end of his time on earth, after he had died for us and been raised to life, just before he ascended into heaven Jesus gave his disciples one final instruction.

‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to all creation.’
Mark 16:15

This instruction is to be our verse for the year in 2014. As we begin a fresh year we, as a church, are going to be hearing and thinking about how we can possibly go into all the world and proclaim the good news to it.

It sounds like a daunting task doesn’t it? How ever let me put it into some perspective. Out of about 7 billion people alive in the world today approximately 650 million of them are Christians. This job of proclaiming the good news is not one we do on our own but rather a task we share with all our brothers and sisters across the globe.

However not all 650 million Christians live in Potters Bar, or on your road, or have your friends and family. Though it is a task we all share, there are some people whose only contact with the good news is you, people for whom the only way they will know about Christ is if you tell them.

I sincerely hope that you believe that the news we have of Jesus Christ, his birth, death, resurrection and his coming again, is good. This news is fantastic, it’s life saving. So let me encourage you, as we think about sharing this wonderful news in our morning services, think for yourself; who should I be sharing this with and how can I do it?

As we go into the New Year make it your resolution to share the great news of the love of Christ with those you love.

With every blessing,

Potters Bar Baptist Church

Barnet Road

Potters Bar



01707 840538


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The mission of Potters Bar Baptist Church is to make fully devoted disciples of Jesus Christ, creating in Him, His community in the heart of our neighbourhood.

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