call, challenge, Commitment, Community, Discipleship, Discipline, forgiveness, freedom, Fruit and fruitfulness, Uncategorized

Making Disciples…

“Go into all the world and make them my disciples, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you, and surely I am with you even to the end of the Age”-

Very famous verses from Matthew 28.

It’s an active word, we are called to “Go”, we are called to “make” disciples, we are called to “Baptise” and we are called to “teach”.

It is a command of Jesus not his final suggestion.

It is a word not just to the disciples standing there but actually a word that echoes through the ages to us.

Earlier  in the Gospel narrative Jesus Jesus says “I will build my Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” Slightly paraphrased “My job is to build my Church”… The problem is we often think that this bit, his bit, it our bit.
Our role is “go and make disciples” -yet too often we try and build Church rather than make disciples.
Church actually is all about making disciples.
In fact that is what Church is “The plural of disciple is Church” says Alison Morgan.
Mike Breen reminds “If you make disciples you get Church, but if you aim for Church you might not get disciples!”
So what is a disciple?
Disciple comes from the word Mathetes, one who learns as they follow.
Have we aimed to low?
Have we settled for attenders rather than discipleship?  Had (and still have) an on going battle with my Church about the whole argument about “bums on seats” -we could fill our Church buildings if we offered free beer and lap-dances- the challenge has never been just to get people into the building, but rather to see people come into relationship with Christ!
Maybe we have just settled on producing believers? Shane Claiborne talks a lot about the difference between a believer and a follower, his great quote is “there is more to being a Christian than believing all the right stuff”.
Have we strives to make ‘dutiful church members’ which is different from our call that is to make real life authentic and engaged disciples.
People will live out their discipleship not just within our buildings but rather on their front line where God has called them, whole life discipleship.
We need, and need to be, people who are model the life of Christ…
Discipleship needs to be seen lived out, with flesh on, as St. Paul said: “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”.
“All members of the community have a responsibility for enriching and contributing to the up building of others” Sylvia Wilkey Collinson.
Our Discipleship is something we ourselves need to take responsibility for, our discipleship is not received like spoon feeding consumerism, but is something we all have responsibility for, both a responsibility for our own faith and growth, but also a responsibility to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
“All of this (the Missional life of Jesus and the discipleship) is more like an action movie than an initiation into Philosophy” Roger Wilton.
Too often we  have made discipleship all about our own head knowledge, rather than about our lives as we follow Christ, looking like him, and we will be more like him the more we hang out with him, the more time we spend with him.
Rob Bell talks about being covered in the dust of your rabbi, as you follow them you are close enough to get covered in the dust from the dusty paths they walk on…
God bless,
Andy

Check out more great resources at http://vergenetwork.org Francis Chan – How Not To Make Disciples
YOU CAN SHARE THIS VIDEO! I must note that although programs and events are useful they can easily create an inwardly focused atmosphere to where the body is …
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1 Corinthians 3., faithfulness, Fruit and fruitfulness

Echoes in Eternity…

Well done good and faithful servant”…
“If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames”.
-Okay, let’s start with a bit of basic theology, we are saved by grace through faith.
Yet we are saved the Bible says FOR good works not by them.
 
So sometimes we forget that we are called to be different, to live out our faith, to build with Gold, silver and costly  stones, to see God’s Kingdom advance on our frontlines, where God has placed us.
 
As the film Gladiator says “what we do in life echoes in eternity”… I love John Wimber and he once said: “My plan is to run the race  and take as many people with me as I possibly can”.
 
He lived a life honouring Christ, and many millions of people found faith, our had their exisiting faith renewed and re-inspired by the spirit of God through the Vineyard movement which Wimber founded (not to mention the  legacies of St.Andrew’s Chorleywood (where new wine started), Holy Trinity Brompton (where Alpha started) and St. Michael le belfrey (where riding lights theatre group was founded).
 
Yet too often I meet Christians who have  a real faith but keep it a real secret when they are out and about (is this building with gold and costly stones or wood/hey and straw -a life that from eternities perspective isn’t investing in what really matters)
 
… Or Christians that have the ‘right’ rhetoric but behaviour is simply not loving and Christ-like, Ghandi said “I like your Christ, I don’t like you Christians” -Sadly as a Vicar and growing up in a Vicarage, I’ve seen people who have the right words but have been some of the most spiteful people I know… this should not be so after all “by this will all people know that you are my disciples that you love one another”.
 
…Or rather than pray would rather do jigsaw puzzles, rather attack people doing mission than get off the sofa and help, won’t stop and acknowledge as a human being the busker, begger or big issue seller when they head off to buy their daily mail (just a thought, should Christians read the daily mail, I think not, but that might just be me!) “…by your fruits you will know them”. 
 
“The Greatest Cause of Atheism in this country, is Christians who confess Christ with their lips but deny him with their lifestyles, that is what an unbelieving world finds unbelievable” DC Talk.
 
So a challenge today, let’s be ‘salt and light’, in other words, living it out in such a way that people notice the difference, be salty in such a way that people around become thirsty for the Christ in us the hope of glory. Bright and shiny lives that radiate Christ, was speaking to a lady yesterday who is unwell, and I was thinking she is someone who whenever I drop her off, she always leaves me smiling as she’s such a ‘Christ-like person’. 
 
You might be thinking, thanks Andy, just what I need on a Wednesday morning, a guilt trip with a side order of condemnation…
 
But the truth is, how we all have been at times doesn’t mean we have to stay that way, I love the story of Scrooge, just because he’d been a slave to money didn’t mean he had to stay that way… in fact where we’ve slipped up can become those cracks through which Christ can shine out most brightly as people notice the change from what we were to what we have become… I think this is what Paul was getting at with his verses about treasure in jars of clay…
 
“What if I stumble, what if I fall, will the love continue when the walk becomes a crawl?” (DC Talk).
YES IT DOES!
 
The great news of the gospel is that Christ not only forgives us our past, -and his mercies are new every morning- but fills us with his Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, to live  for him.
 
My prayer is that when we meet Christ face to face we are greeted with the words well done good and faithful servant.
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community of grace, Compassion, Falibility, Family, forgiveness, Fruit and fruitfulness, Hopes and Dreams, inclusion, inter-dependance, Life Together, Uncategorized

One Another…

Did you know there are 59 “one another verses” in the New Testament?

#Love one another…
#Pray for one another…
#Encourage one another…
#Serve one another…
#Support one another…
#Forgive one another…
#Bless one another…
#Carry one another’s burdens…

Yet bizarrely I find one of the toughest parts of being a Vicar is that you can sometimes feel really lonely. It has been said “Jesus sent the disciples out in 2’s but in the Church of England you’re on your own”!

The Victorians used to believe that a persons religion was a personal and private thing, a lie we’ve embraced as a culture made worse by our increasingly individualistic culture.

We need I believe to recapture the togetherness of when Church is meant to be a family, yet some of us have become so institutionalised into the mould of ‘lone-ranger-vicardom’ that we need the help of this family, to help us learn another way, and another new normal.

We need for Church to become a safe place afresh which gives people the confidence to be vulnerable, because they are held in a place of love.

The problem at the heart of this, as with much in the Church culture, in pains and hurts which causes us to suffer on our own, and often in silence, which causes Church to become polite and even friendly. Yet as I have said before, I don’t want to be part of a friendly Church, but rather work out a way of being a Church where people can make friends in. After all at All Souls’ motto is “where strangers become friends and friends meet with Jesus”.

Perhaps the problem is that in Church people can be more likely to give you a piece of their mind than a piece of their heart.

Sadly we hear these horror stories of people professing to be Christians who…
#hurt one another…
#gossip about one another…
#(try) controlling one another…
#bicker with one another…
#running down one another…
#compete unhelpfully with one another…

All of which makes Churchless and less like the foretaste and outpost of heaven that it should be.

Is our behaviour more the first list or the second?

What do we need to change in us, to help our Christian Communities resemble the one perfect community of love which is at the heart of who God is when revealed as Father Son and Holy Spirit.

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