At a recent meeting I was at, I was hearing about how we need more “risk takers” and in some degree I agree that as the Church of Jesus Christ we can sometimes be risk adverse. Again the conversation progressed with we need more entrepreneurs too, and again we do need people with ideas and creativity and the ‘can do’ attitude to make things happen.
Yet the thing that I found was missing was the question of where is God in all of this? Surely the key to all mission is stepping out in faith with what God is calling us to do.
Surely a good pioneer has to be someone who is prayerful and is actively seeking what is God’s will for this place at this time with these people.
I know many risk takers, and I admire their courage, but risk in itself is neither positive or negative, the question is whether or not it is the right thing to do, the thing you are called to do.
I remember in “Only Fools and Horses” Rodney saying of Del, that he’s read a book where a modern man makes bold and entrepreneurial decisions “which is why we have half a dozen Russian Betamax Video recorders and a whole load of horse riding helmets painted red” -In other words he’d bought a right load of old tosh!
Scripture reminds us that “Zeal without wisdom is folly”.
In the world of Pioneer Ministry there is much talk of leading, but surely the key is being led by the Holy Spirit.
In my context of Kingswood, there are a million worthwhile ventures that I could be doing -filling the diary up has never been the problem- but rather what is God calling us to do? What is God’s plan and purpose of the people I serve?
My friend Mark Rich talks about “the devil seeking to cause us maximum weariness for minimum fruitfulness” -after all the most dangerous thing is not failure but succeeding in things that don’t matter. Scripture talks of building with “Gold, Silver and costly stones” -imperishable- rather that “wood, straw and costly stones” -perishable-, our own ideas might sound impressive but it is only the ideas that stem from the heart of God that have lasting eternal fruitfulness.
To discover God’s plan and purposes I believe can only be discovered by being a good listener, listening to God in the quiet place -seeking his Kingdom on our knees- and listening to the community.
Often people come to me with a great idea, and they really try to sell me their idea, and often there has been some brilliant and wonderful creative thinking, yet the question I want to know is “do you believe you have heard from God on this? Is God calling us to this?”
For “if the worker does not build the house then the labourers labour in vein” and what is more even Jesus said “I only do what I see my Father doing” -we need reminding that “Mission is finding out what God is doing and joining in” (as former Archbishop Rowan Williams said).
Whilst I was at college one of our lecturers described the best ministers as ‘reflective practioners’.
We need people to be practioners as so often we can ‘navel gaze’ being so reflective that never get around to being productive! Yet we can be so activist in being ‘practioners’ that we never prayerfully reflect or evaluate anything and thus miss out on the fruit that God wants to give us.
We need to seek God for the right way forward and build it. Yet as we build something new, we need to be self aware, critical in our thinking and with open hearts and minds to the guiding of the Holy Spirit.
Interestingly a wise and Godly friend gave me this advice on starting in Kingwood which was “pray, pray and pray some more… Spend the first year just praying” -advice I wish I had heeded more.
Yet, although it is great to “hit the ground kneeling” and begin embedded in prayer, we also need to continue on in this vein. Not just birthing a vision in prayer, but nurturing it prayerfully, sustaining it prayerfully and continually evaluating it prayerfully too.
So, let’s learn afresh to be people who live deeply with Christ, whose rhythm of life is “the ancient art of breathing” -receiving from Christ (breathing in) and sharing it with the world around us (breathing out).
To conclude, for me the most important gift with any Kingdom work is the ability “to hear and discern God’s voice and the courage and obedience to put it into practice”.