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A year ago, Laura, Alice and I took our little girl out to brunch where she mostly ate a plate of red and brown sauce. This was the inauspicious start of St Mark’s MK. We had each moved to Milton Keynes with the idea of starting a new church which we hoped would be a bit different, a bit of an adventure, and would result in a lot of people meeting Jesus.

We were full of enthusiasm…but that was about all we had going for us! Although we had read a couple of books about how to start a church we were unsure exactly what we should do next and how we should do it. There are 250,000 people in Milton Keynes, and we only knew 4 of them (5 if you included the guy on the till who had just taken our breakfast order).

This last sunday marked 52 weeks since that moment; and from the photo above it should be obvious that a few things have changed (although our little girl would still quite happily down a bottle of Ketchup if you let her).

In the last year we have: exhibited at the MK wedding fair, hosted a marriage course, put on a carol service in the cinema (for which we folded nearly 500 leaflets) appeared a couple of times on local BBC radio, struck up a great relationship with a domestic violence charity in the city, baptised three people in a local swimming pool, held weekly sunday gatherings (sometimes with belly dancers, sometimes with rave music, but more of that some other time), been invited into the local prison (in a good way), become a partner church for a great charity working to eradicate the need for children to live on the streets of Latin America, celebrated the birth of 3 babies, dedicated one of them, become a charity, and hung out a whole load together. Plus a whole bunch of other things I have probably missed out.

More important than all of that, some people have joined us on the adventure and are experiencing Jesus in real and practical ways.

When we set sail on this journey some wise people told me that most people “over-estimate what is possible in a year, but under-estimate what is possible in ten years”. Their encouragement was that I should not give up if we have not fulfilled all my ambitions in 12 months time, because if we kept going, we might just get close to them in a decade. Wise advice, and I took it to heart. I did however jot a couple of little ‘hopes’ down in my journal…we are close enough to give it a big old ‘tick’ I reckon.

As another of my heroes says as he marvels at the growth in his church; ‘Only God’. Without God, none of this would have happened, and without him leading the way into our next year we are stuck. With him however, who knows what could happen?! Certainly more than I could ask or imagine.