Back in the days when telephones were wired to walls, I had a cousin who would refuse to answer the telephone during dinner. He prioritised spending time with his family. He gave them the gift of his presence. Not just his physical presence, but his mental and emotional presence. For that time each day his wife and son knew that they were his #1 priority.
As mobile phones have proliferated the gift of conscious presence has become a scarcer commodity. You know a video strikes a chord when it has 50 million views on YouTube:
God has always valued this gift and throughout Scripture regularly promises his people the blessing of his presence. In Listening to His Heartbeat Harold Shank describes this gift as the “Divine With”. God promises to be with his people.
We see the precious nature of the “Divine With” in the first chapters of the Bible. God was with Adam and Eve in the Garden, but sin resulted in them leaving the Garden of Eden. Although they leave the Garden, there’s no indication that God left them to their own devices at that point. That comes down in Genesis 4:16. After Cain kills Abel we’re told that, “Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.” The ultimate punishment for murder was to leave the presence of God.
In the new testament the “Divine With” gathers greater momentum. Matthew 1:23 introduces Jesus with the name Immanuel, meaning “God with us”.
As Jesus prepares to die in John 14:16 he promises, “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever – the Spirit of truth.”
Immediately prior to his ascension Jesus reassures his disciples saying, “surely I am with you always , to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
Even the last words of Scripture in Revelation 22:21 contain the idea of presence, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”
This promise continually reminds us that when we sit down at the table with God, we’re his #1 priority. When we’re driving our car, when we’re at school or work, when we’re tired, angry, sad, lonely… God is with us and at that moment we’re his #1 priority.
The repetition of this promise throughout the centuries reassures us that God’s longing to spend time with us emerges from deep within God’s heart. God’s presence provides me with tremendous comfort. As I write this blog I can pause and talk to God knowing here’s right here listening to me. I value his presence.
It’s tempting to end this post right here: warm and fuzzy. But as I revel in God’s presence I also appreciate that I share the same responsibility.
Job’s friends frequently serve as an example of people practicing presence. Job 2:13 tells us that “they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was.”
As God’s presence comforts us, we have the opportunity to encourage others with our presence.
In Matthew 28 Jesus makes his promise to be with his disciples in the context of telling them to go throughout the world meeting and speaking to people. In other words, as you give the world the gift of your presence and share the promise of God’s presence with others, I’ll be with you.
That, is the gift of presence.
This post launches a series of posts by guest bloggers that we’re calling The Summer Blog Tour. Throughout the month of July, each Monday and Wednesday I’ll be posting a new article by a new author. The goal of the Summer Blog Tour is to share some inspiring articles, and to expose you to some new authors you might like to follow in the future. Beyond reading the posts on Peter’s Patter, I encourage you to explore more of their writing on their home blogs.
For the Summer Blog Tour we’ve chosen the theme:
The Power of a [ ] Story
To get us started I invited Steve Rigdell to write for us. He’s the author of the book Can I Tell You a Story. Steve serves as an elder at the Southern Hills church of Christ in Abilene, Texas. He lives to share the story of Jesus with this world which he does effectively through his primary work as Director of Ministry for Hope for Life. You can follow more of Steve’s writing through his regular contributions to Heartlight.org.
The Power of Telling a Story
Jesus often used stories to illustrate how to live as his disciples. I believe hearing the stories of Jesus still equips us to live out his call on our lives. And here is one example of how I think that works.
I have often heard people talk about the Great Commission passage in Matthew 28, but I wonder if we have missed what it means. It is too easy to simply make the point that “go into all the world” means go out of your front door and into your world.
What does that mean in terms of real life action? I believe Jesus explains exactly how his followers go into their world and make other followers. I think he shows how to go, where to go, and what to do when we get there.
Listen to the stories he told about going into your world.
How do I go? I go living forgiven.
She was a woman caught in adultery. The response by those who caught her was the familiar refrain of guilt, shame, and feelings of worthlessness. But Jesus offered forgiveness, not condemnation. And then he told her to “go and leave your life of sin”. Go back among her friends and family as a changed person. Live forgiven. That is how we demonstrate the truth that Jesus changes lives. We are the living examples of God’s work in this world.
Where do I go? To those in need – and then serve them intentionally.
The story of the Good Samaritan was told to illustrate who is our neighbor. It is the story of a man who saw someone in need and then did something about it. He cared for them. Your world, your neighborhood, is full of hurting people in need of help. Physical needs, emotional needs, spiritual needs. Sick people, abused people, lonely people, addicted people. The last thing Jesus said after the story of the Good Samaritan was for us to “go and do the same.” So we go into our world as servants committed to helping others. But we do it with purpose.
We serve intentionally in the name of Jesus. This gives us credibility to speak into lives. Our lives are living proof that Jesus works. Our service is the proof that the Jesus story is worth hearing.
What do I do when I go? Speak with courage the story of Jesus.
He fought so many demons he was called Legion. He was lonely and in pain. Jesus met him, connected with him, and healed him. When Jesus left that place, Legion was ready to go with him. He was all in for a mission trip with Jesus. Except that Jesus told him no. Instead, he told him to go home to his family and tell them what the Lord had done for him and how he had mercy on him.
Our lives give credibility to the story of Jesus. Our service gives opportunity to share that story. But you will not make followers of Jesus in your world until you tell them the good news of Jesus. Tell your story. Tell His story. And invite them to become part of the story.
Go into all the world. Go into your world.
Serve with Purpose.
Speak with Courage.
And you will make followers… who will make followers… who will make followers.
So many books, seminars and DVD series exist on the topic of evangelism. Most of these resources describe mindsets, motivational pep talks, and above all else a wide variety of techniques. I want to suggest that in the midst of all these voices we often overlook the most productive evangelistic practice: PRAYER.
Last Sunday I was blessed to speak at the Center Road Church of Christ in Kokomo, Indiana. They asked me to address the topic of evangelism, so I did.
A significant part of my sermon focused on the benefits of prayer in the evangelistic process. I’ve provided a summary below.
5 Reasons to Make Prayer Central to Evangelism
- Prayer involves God in our circumstances. The Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) begins with Jesus’ statement, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore…” Our evangelistic mission emerges from the fact that Jesus has all power! When we pray, we request the holder of all power to act on behalf of the lost in our lives. This single function of prayer is 99.5% of the reason prayer should always be central to evangelism. The power of God that we request through prayer is real!
- Prayer reminds us that it’s not our expertise that’s on trial, we’re just joining God on His mission. Closely related to the previous point this reason just shifts the focus. If all power belongs to Jesus, then we need to remind ourselves that we’re just His tools. I suspect the #1 barrier to sharing our faith is that we take complete responsibility for bringing people to Christ. When we do that we subvert the work of God and the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. Yes, we have to meet people, speak to people, express our faith, but we also need to give God space to work.
- Offering to pray for (unchurched) people is a a super non-threatening way of expressing our love for God, our love for the individual, and God’s love for that person all at the same time. It is amazing how people will open up when you ask if you can pray for them.
One of the first time I asked a waitress if I could pray for her when I gave thanks for my meal she nearly burst into tears telling me how her cat was suffering and about the surgery it needed. Now I’m not a cat person, but I prayed for her cat (can’t remember its name) as I gave thanks for my meal. I was at a conference that week, but if that happened in Rochester, I’d have gone back to that restaurant to ask that lady how her cat was. I’ve gotta think that lady hated being separated from her cat while she was at work that day, but that God was able to give her some encouragement through my question.
- Offering to pray for people leads to spiritual conversations. How often do we psych ourselves out of speaking up for God because it just seems inappropriate. But when a stranger asks you to pray for something specific, they’re having a spiritual conversation with you whether they realise it or not. They’re asking you to approach God with a need on their behalf. Then as the above story demonstrates you can come back and ask how God responded to that prayer. Before you know it, you’re talking about God with a stranger and they’re viewing you as a conduit to God.
Or you could just walk up to people and ask them if they know where they’re going to spend eternity. Try that with your waiter and see how it goes. 🙂
- When prayer for the lost is part of church gatherings it raises the awareness of the members. One of the few specific things that Jesus commanded his followers to pray for was workers to spread the Gospel. Do you remember this passage from Matthew 9:37-38 “Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” When is the last time you heard this prayer at your church? Church leaders will often lament about church growth and evangelism, but are we praying as Jesus instructed us to pray?
Yeah, I know I cheated and there’s some overlap between those points, but I’d love for you to add to this list. Please leave a comment below.
And many thanks to Kairos Church Planting for helping me focus on prayer as the locus of evangelism.
I find the Apostles’ apparent reticence to leave Jerusalem after the ascension of Jesus perplexing. I don’t know if they were disobeying God, just misunderstanding Him, or carrying out their role just as He intended. In this post I want to lay out one perspective that makes me wonder if they weren’t disobeying God. It also seems that racial issues have a lot to do with it.
- Read Acts 1:1-9 here and Acts 11:19-30 here.
- You can listen to the related sermon here.
- This post draws heavily on chapter two of the book Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church.
In Luke 24:45-49 the resurrected Jesus tells the apostles “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem…. stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” Then Luke begins the book of Acts by again noting the instructions “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised…. you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” But the apostles seem to stay in Jerusalem long after the Holy Spirit arrives. What’s going on?
The Holy Spirit arrives with power in Acts chapter 2. Peter preaches a great sermon and the first mega-church is born. (2:41)
The story (and the apostles) then stays in Jerusalem until Acts 8:1.
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. (tNIV, emphasis added)
The Gospel has begun to spread. The movement is on. It started in Jerusalem and now it seeps into Judea and Samaria. But the Apostles stay put! Eventually, in 8:14 after the Samaritans begin accepting the Gospel the apostles Peter and John travel to Samaria where they stay and preach before returning to Jerusalem.
Chapters 9-11 revolve around God convincing the apostle Peter that it was okay to baptise Gentiles. God convinces him by gifting Cornelius and his household with the Holy Spirit: A sign Peter could not reject. Then Peter has to return to Jerusalem and convince the church there that God allowed Gentiles into his kingdom. The Jerusalem church still wanted to exclude Gentiles.
While the Jerusalem church and the apostles were struggling to come to terms with God’s admission of Gentiles into his kingdom, other Christians were busy spreading the Gospel to everyone. In 8:1 we learn that persecution scattered many of the Christians from Jerusalem, but 8:4 notes “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” One of the places they went was to Antioch, the third largest city in the Roman Empire at the time. Acts 11:20 tells us that “Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus.”
When the church in Jerusalem learned of the Gentile Christians in Antioch they sent Barnabas (not an Apostle) to investigate. Barnabas was excited about God’s work in Antioch, but instead of returning to Jerusalem he traveled further north to find Saul and brought him as partner in teaching the Gospel in Antioch.
Then over in Acts 13:1-3 the church in Antioch blesses Saul and Barnabas and sends them on a journey to spread the good news of Jesus throughout the Roman Empire.
At this point one might think that the racial and religious tensions between Jews and Gentiles would be resolved. One might also expect that after the Apostles in Jerusalem had accepted Peter’s experience with Cornelius and heard the reports of Barnabas and Saul that certainly the Jerusalem church had worked through this issue. But in Acts 15:1 we find Christians traveling from Jerusalem to Antioch and demanding that Gentile Christians submit to circumcision. Basically, they were teaching that Gentiles needed to become Jews before they could become Christians! Paul and Barnabas strongly disagreed with this teaching.
So everyone travels to Jerusalem for the Apostles to make a ruling. (Yes, they’re still there.) In 15:6-7 the elders and apostles meet to consider the question, then the text says, “After much discussion…“. This still wasn’t a straightforward issue for the church. Finally, the Apostles Peter and James give speeches stating that Gentiles were not required to be circumcised or to observe the Mosaic Law. Acts has 28 chapters and it takes until chapter 15 for Gentiles to be accepted in the Jerusalem church.
It appears that despite the instructions of Luke 24 and Acts 1 the Twelve struggled to accept first that God wanted Gentiles to receive the Gospel of Jesus and enter his kingdom. Second, they appear slow to recognise that Jesus’ command to go into all the world applied to them.
The Good News
I don’t intend to write all this just to criticise the Apostles. What’s fascinating about all this is realising who really helped kick start the church in carrying out the Great Commission. It wasn’t the Apostles or even missionaries sanctioned by the Jerusalem mother ship.
Some Jewish Christians from remote parts of the Roman Empire initiated the Gentile mission and the struggle against legalism and prejudice. Acts 11:20 doesn’t tell us their names, but notes that they came to Antioch from Cyrene (northern Africa) and Cyprus. Later the Cypriot Barnabas joined the work and he recruited Saul, a Roman citizen from Tarsus in Turkey. This diverse group of Godly men opened the doors of God’s kingdom to “all nations”.
This encourages me that I don’t need to be the lead minister at a big city mega-church for my ministry to have profound influence within the church and the world. I hope it likewise encourages you that God can use anyone to take giant strides for Him. The rag tag group of Christians in Antioch understood the mission of God in ways that the Jerusalem church never seems to wholeheartedly embrace. They just loved their neighbours enough that they couldn’t keep their life changing good news to themselves. Through this church, God changed the world.
God used persecution of the church to send Christians into the world preaching as they went (8:1). But the Apostles remained in Jerusalem. I wonder if God didn’t finally use the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD as the ultimate endorsement of the Gentile mission and to force the Apostles to leave Jerusalem and spread His Good News with the world.
I’d love for you to share your thoughts with me.
- Did the Twelve have good reasons to remain in Jerusalem?
- Is the Jew-Gentile conflict in the early church comparable with racial prejudices in our society and churches?
- KEY VERSE: I didn’t reference Gal. 2:9 in the discussion above. Does it change your perspective on this discussion?
- Read Galatians 5:13-26 here.
- You can listen to this sermon here.
The death of Elisha is recorded in 2 Kings 13:20. His final days still find Elisha in conflict with the king of Israel reprimanding him for his lack of faith. Yet no one doubts Elisha’s personal relationship with God even though in some respects his ministry ends in failure as Israel continues their worship of idols. This got me to thinking, how can we measure our relationship with God? Is there a way to “score” our spiritual growth?
Here’s a basic methodology I came up with to help us develop personal “Spiritual Score Cards”. The process would involve finding a significant date each year to devote to some prayer and self-examination. You should keep a note book or journal to record your “scores” and reflections. You will then be able to compare your notes year after year and chart your spiritual growth.
1. Are there sins you’re still struggling to give up? (Galatians 5:19-21)
Before listing the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, Paul reminds his readers that sin is real. A lifestyle of sin will prevent us from inheriting the kingdom of God. All Christians should have a goal of eliminating sin. This is not an attempt to gain salvation through our own personal purity. Rather, we recognise that true transformation into the image of Christ must involve the pursuit of holiness.
The difficulty with this step is that many Christians don’t have specific sins we struggle with. We might claim to be imperfect sinners, but when asked what sin we’re working to eliminate from our lives we don’t have an answer. The more we spiritually mature, the more aware we grow of our shortcomings. Awareness is the first step to overcoming these struggles and temptations. Hopefully, our score card would show different struggles over the years reflecting victories over sin.
2. On a positive note, “Is your life characterized by the fruit of the Spirit described in Gal. 5:22-26?”
It’s not as though Galatians 5:22-23 contain the only list of virtues in the New Testament. (We could just as well compare our lives to the catalogue of virtues in 1 Timothy 3:1-13 or 1 Peter 1:5-9, amongst others.) But it’s as good a starting point as any. This is a fairly simple step that involves listing the fruits in a column and then grading yourself on a scale of 1-10 how prominent each fruit is in your life. Again, our scores will hopefully rise over time.
3. How are you doing with the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20?
Although the items listed in the previous two steps have a lot to do with our interactions with others, they can still give the impression that our “score” is all about introspection and a conversation between God and myself. But God never intended for his people to be navel gazing hermits. Not even praying navel gazing hermits. God wants his people to be interacting with those around them sharing his love and his Gospel, making disciples.
Sharing our faith needs to be an important part of our Christian journey. There are various elements to this Commission and we won’t necessarily be doing all of them at once. The first step is Go. Some of us will go further than others, but we all need to leave our comfort zone for the benefit of others. The second step is declaring the Good News of forgiveness, leading to baptism. The third step is the ongoing sharing of Christ’s teachings with the new convert.
Which of these three stages is your strength? How active are you in this area? What do you need to do in the next 12 months to improve your fulfillment of the Great Commission?
I hope you find these suggestions helpful!
- What is a time of self examination like for you? Is it something that takes a week of recurring thoughts, or do you need a quite room for a couple of hours?
- Can you think of additional areas of the Christian walk that could or should be evaluated regularly?
- Which of the 3 steps I listed above do you find the most challenging?
The empty tomb, the defeat of death, and the hope of eternal life provides an appropriate ending to Jesus’ life story, but in many ways, it’s just the beginning. What is the benefit of Jesus’ death, and resurrection if no one hears of it? Matt 28:11-15 describes the efforts of the Jewish religious leaders to suppress this good news. In contrast, Matthew’s Gospel closes with v16-20 where Jesus’ commissions his disciples to Go. Disciple. Baptise. and Teach. Spread this Good News to every person everywhere on earth. From this point forward, Christianity will be a proselytizing missionary religion.
At Lawson Rd we acknowledge that our version of the Great Commission currently begins with “Come”, rather than “Go”. Of course, this is a problem. However, I believe that it’s a vital starting point.
For the past 12 months our Sunday attendance has frequently consisted of 25-33% of people who are not members. Some of these are regular attenders, but many are newcomers to the church. We praise God that he sees fit to bring people seeking Him through our doors.
The challenge for the congregation is to connect with these newcomers and welcome them into the piece of God’s kingdom at Lawson Rd. The commands to Disciple, Baptise, and Teach are best fulfilled within the context of a church. So the church must create an atmosphere conducive to this purpose. As I discussed this with a group last night we considered the question, “How would a guest at Sunday morning worship react if you offered to pray with them?” The group’s response was mixed.
In some ways this question is unusual. People may feel that we’re being nosy, or too personal for a first-time meeting. On the other hand, if we assume that people attend worship services for a reason then this question may provide them an opportunity to share what’s going on in their lives. It may encourage authenticity. I would hope that at a minimum it communicates sincere love and concern for the guest.
I am convinced that our “Go outside our comfort zone” will quickly evaporate if we already feel uncomfortable praying with someone who has come to a church seeking to worship God. Since I’ve visited many churches and never been personally asked for a prayer need this blog is not a commentary on Lawson Rd in particular. Why is it that when we come together as a church we feel more comfortable discussing, traffic, weather, football, kids, etc., than we do asking if we can pray for someone? Under what circumstances would we feel comfortable offering to pray for someone?
I recently came across an article by Mark Taylor, the pulpit minister at Memorial Rd Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. In it he suggested a simple process for developing evangelistic awareness and transitioning from a “Come” to a “Go” church. “Going” doesn’t necessarily mean going very far. Here’s four Great Commission things that everyone one of us can do:
- Reach Across the Pew
- Walk Across the Room
- Talk Across the Fence
- Pray Across our Town
Every single able-bodied member should be able to reach across the pew and introduce themselves to those they don’t know. Every single member should be able to notice someone in Bible class sitting alone and simply walk across the room and sit by them. Everyone can meet their neighbors and use conversational evangelism to mention what church they are a member of. And everyone can pray for God to bless our outreach efforts.
I think we’ll be discussing these concepts a lot more around Lawson Road in the coming months and years.
- How would you react if you attended a new church and someone asked you, “Is there anything I can pray with you about?” (or something like that.)
- Do you agree that established churches need to address “Come” as a precursor to “Go”?
- How can churches better facilitate spiritual conversations outside of formal meeting times?
- Read Colossians 1:12-14 here.
- If you missed Sunday’s sermon (16 January) you can listen to it here (the first minute or two are missing).
Our congregational theme for 2011 plays on the initials of our name, Lawson Road (LR). The first word was a no-brainer: LOVE. The second word continues to have me second guessing myself: RESCUE. While everyone on the planet should agree on the virtue and desirability of Love, perhaps only a minority would agree that they need Rescue. This means there’s a reasonable chance that using this term as a congregational theme will offend someone.
An article I read today (Myron Augsberger, 1990) captured some of my reservations regarding the term Rescue. Speaking as a well-educated white male moving to work in an inner city ministry, he wrote, I was going to the inner city, I explained, not to be like the people there or to rescue them heroically. I was going simply because I cared. Choosing the theme Rescue does not reflect our position of superiority in relationship to those around us. However, we face a distinct risk of developing an attitude of arrogance, or that we at least portray arrogance to people we encounter.
In order for this word to truly motivate the church we must adopt the fundamental truth “we have all been rescued.”
- For [God] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. (Col 1:13)
- the Lord Jesus Christ… gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father. (Gal 1:3-4)
- Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath. (1 Thess. 1:10)
In each of these verses, the word Rescue is not used as a missional statement for the church, but as a description of the church. Only this consciousness can ensure we maintain our humility as we also pursue the mission of rescue.
Although Rescue doesn’t show up on every page of the Bible, we shouldn’t dismiss it as an insignificant word. To me, it’s synonymous with the concept of Salvation, which is a lot more common. (but doesn’t being with “R”) The logic may be a little convoluted, but I do believe the church has been given a mission of Rescue.
I don’t think there can be any argument that Christ has given the church the mission of spreading the message of the Gospel throughout the world. Romans 1:16 states, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” The message of the Gospel brings salvation, or rescue, to everyone who believes. Our commission is to spread that message of rescue as broadly afield as we can.
Jesus gives an example of how Love and Rescue complement each other in Matthew 9:36. First, Jesus sees the crowds and is moved with compassion, or love, then he sends his disciples out to expand his mission of proclaiming the kingdom of heaven (10:5). Likewise, our message of rescue must always be motivated by love to be effective, not personal or corporate ego.
So what do you think? Please share your reaction below.
- Do you think many people would find the term “Rescue” offensive as a church theme?
- Can you suggest an alternative “R” word for a church theme?
- What would you consider the biggest challenge: Getting the church to acknowledge their own rescue, or motivating them to share the Gospel of Rescue?
I’m having a nice quiet vacation, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to jot down some thoughts arising from Lipscomb’s Summer Celebration (Lectureship).
One of the recurring themes of the various sessions I attended challenged churches to consider their mission. The various speakers questioned whether churches do a good job of engaging their community/neighbours. Maybe we’ve become better at serving ourselves than others.
One of the reasons for this introversion is our understanding of our mission. Sometimes churches become more concerned about maintaining their perceived purity than connecting with those God places around them. Another way of saying this is that “we lose sight of our mission.”
Over my church life I’ve most often heard the church’s mission described in terms of the Great Commission in Matt. 28:18-20, & Mark 16:15-16. One of the presenters suggested that Lk 10:1-24 provides an alternative (better?) model for us. While the Matt & Mark passages give more detail as to the message, the Luke passage provides some guidance regarding methods and mindset.
These passages all share the instruction for Jesus’ followers to GO. I wonder if at times we don’t interpret this as “go to church each week” rather than “go and purposely engage the world with the Good News of Jesus.” I don’t think this necessarily refers to doorknocking campaign. I guess I’ll talk more about methodology later, but here’s an interesting article. Although it primarily discusses church giving, it also describes one church’s efforts to serve its community.
For at least 10 Wednesdays this summer, the Morning Star Church is contributing free popcorn and sodas to people attending the concerts in Highland Park. The 400-member church pays for the snacks, feeding up to 1,500.
Other passages that describe the evangelistic mission of the church include Acts 1:7-8. Can you think of other passages of Scripture that describe the mission of the church. I really think this will make an interesting list. Please leave a comment with your suggestion.
One speaker that I really appreciated on this topic was Mark Love from the Resource Center for Missional Leadership at Rochester College. If this topic interests you I think you’ll enjoy the website.
My previous entry on core values for the church has proved to be one of my most visited postings, so I though I’d expand on that discussion a little. I expect this will also be a topic I come back to in the future. There seem to be a lot of people searching for core values. With that in mind I must apologise that the values listed previously (and again below) are more measures for leadership than core values.
In my mind core values would include things like evangelism, tolerance of differences, openness, generosity to those in need, unselfishness, faithfulness to Scripture, love, justice, forgiveness, grace and holiness. (Obviously this is an incomplete list.)
The difficulty churches face, is condensing the whole NT definition of discipleship into 3 or 4 points. On the one hand this makes the 3-4 points superficial, but on the other hand it’s incredibly helpful to concentrate on just a few things at a time. To help with this we also have an annual theme (the plus one) that emphasises another aspect of our faith.
The three core values (or measures) that our elders came up with are listed below. These reflect the priorities and life stage of our church currently and may change in the future and will probably be different to other churches.
- Personal Spiritual Growth – leading to increased involvement in the work of the church (2 Peter 3:17-18);
- Establishing a Godly Leadership that works together as a team (Acts 6:1-6); and
- Growing Numerically – by demonstrating love and sharing the Gospel (Acts 6:7).
These three points are used by our elders to look back on the year and ask questions. EG. Are we as leaders seeing spiritual growth among our members? Are our ministries encouraging spiritual growth? Are we as elders demonstrating and encouraging spiritual growth among our members? And similarly for the other two points.
Although numerical growth seems a bit crass when put in a list like this, after all God’s more interested in transformed lives and relationships than numbers, I believe it’s healthy to question what sort of job we’re doing of carrying out the Great Commission. Sharing the Gospel needs to be one of our priorities as a church.
Particularly if your a visititor just browsing this site, I’d love for you to leave a brief comment sharing your thoughts on core values for God’s church.