call, cost, Evangelism, Journey, Kingdom, Monasticism, Pilgrimage, Pioneer, Post-modern-culture, ready, rejection, Risk and Change, Salvation, Simplicity, St. Francis, vocation

A Cunning Plan…

People are asking me all the time what am I going to do once I leave (especially about money).

It is hard because the honest answer is “I don’t know, God hasn’t shown me yet” which as someone who normally knows where they want to go, has a strategy and is forging ahead, this is pretty uncomfortable place.

I have said I will spend October until Christmas seeking God and praying (although I’ll also try and find some way of earning some cash too, unless Allana can keep me as a kept man!)

I do want to learn to be a better husband and dad, heart-breaking phrase from Hope was about being glad I’m not going to be a Vicar anymore as she will see more of me as I wont always be working. As you can imagine how much that phrase was like a knife in my heart.

Somehow in making personal sacrifices for ministry, we end up causing our loved ones to suffer in a way that I don’t believe God intended.

One thing I remain passionate about is telling people, who want to know about Jesus, about Jesus.

And some thinking is beginning to emerge in my head and heart.

Recently I have become aware that two phrases I hear all the time, is “I don’t like ‘hit and run’ evangelism” and I want to be a Church like the book of Acts.

which is ironic as Acts is full of hit and run evangelism, as are the gospels, Jesus only did ministry for three years (that’s shorter than a curacy in the Church of England), he sent the 12 and the 72 out to go into the cities, towns and villages and then to come back. The book of Acts is entirely “hit and run” S/Paul the great missionary only stayed in Ephesus for a year -ironic as the average clergy stay is 7 years. More-over it seems to have taken about half an hour for the Church in Ethiopia to be planted (as it appears as though he went back home with his faith, told others and by God’s grace the Church took root and grew).

As I thought more about this, the greatest missionary movement outside the Acts of the Apostles -St. Francis of Assisi- again saw people travelling from place to place, just as Wesley too was captivated by his assurance of Christ and went from place to place telling other people about Jesus.

Yet why has that stopped? why have we become so settled in our communities? why have we lost this urgency of the gospel which we want to tell everyone and go to the ends of the earth if necessary?

why do the only people that seem to go from place to place talking about Jesus nowadays are the big name speakers, staying in plush hotels, and speaking to large audiences (most of whom -est. 70% are already Christians) in luxury venues with massive sound-desks and lighting rigs and a ton of equipment.

Yet Jesus sent the 12 and the 72 out without even a second jacket, knowing that the gospel was enough. -How come todays Christianity looks so clunky? why is it so like Saul’s armour, slow and immoveable?

Recently we planted a Church, its been tough, recently I sat in a meeting and they were talking about all this Churchy procedure and just felt like something in me was dying (I’d already resigned by that point, but it certainly confirmed by decision). why is establishing a new Christian community so full of human beaucracy, it was jobs-worthy we need to remember that Jesus matters more than red tape!

A year ago I blogged about “Simple Church” we make it so complicated when really it is simply gathering together, worshiping and learning together about how we follow Christ and sharing together bread and wine. Today I was chatting to a minister who talked about “Pop Up Church”, the idea of Churches shooting up all over the place, travelling light, trying stuff out, mobile and seeking where works the best and through it all people discovering and growing in Christ.

This model of Jesus, Francis and Wesley relied not on “paid professionals” coming in and teaching us how to do Church, but rather empowering people from day one, it was collaborative, it was free from really unhelpful “provider client” baggage, or of preacher/pastors needing to be needed. The preacher was off to the next town, so “all hands on deck”.

Perhaps this next season might involve simple mission, just telling people who are interested about Jesus (so often in all the fuss, noise, events, buildings, fundraising, activity we forget that we are meant primarily to be telling people about Jesus). Simple Church, that makes simple disciples that live for Christ and transform the world.

Church that keeps on moving, place to place, keeps on planting again and again, and keeps on going until this nation is changed and transformed.

Perhaps this is the new monasticism I’ve longed for looks like, people simply talking about Jesus going from place to place, and setting up Churches as we go. Not every Church will grow and flourish, but -God willing- some will.

So, come January, maybe somehow can work out a way of simply doing this, which looks to me like mission as Jesus intended, very simple yet very challenging. Simply talking Jesus -and showing him by how we live our lives- seeing Churches literally popping up, some will live and some might not make it, and as we step into all that God has for us, seeing the great commission fulfilled and “disciples being made”…

I don’t know yet how this will look, and maybe it’s just an unrealistic dream, a bonkers thought, or maybe, just maybe, there might be a gleam -a momentary glimpse- of a possible future that maybe starting to be born…

And maybe it is a challenge for us, maybe this vision might reasonate with you, or maybe God has a new vision for you about to be born, maybe he’s calling you to lay something down, in order in his time to pick something else up.

pperseverence, rejection

Don’t let rejection stop you.

“Can I just tell you that God loves you and has a great plan for your life” -I said to this gentleman (as per the Reading script)…

“I’m not into that, I’m Church of England” he said as he walked off.

Rejection happens when we do mission and it isn’t nice, but it is part of mission people have the choice to accept Jesus or reject him. In fact in John 6, so many people had left Jesus that he even asked the 12 if they would go too, prompting Peter to say “where else can we go for you have the words  of eternal life”.

He saw something unique in Jesus that he couldn’t get anywhere else, as Peter said in his sermon in the Acts of the Apostles “there is no other name by which we are saved”.

we have a responsibility to share our faith with those around us, in Corinthians it says “one sows, the other reaps but God made it grow” we can’t opt out of the great commission, but our responsibility is just to be faithful and tell them the good news their response is down to them.

As we have been doing mission this fortnight I remember a phrase Pastor Yinka the main guy with this Reading movement said “if you sow sparingly you’ll reap sparingly, so lets sow extravagantly”.

Bishop Lee Rayfield said in the Mission Shaped Ministry training “don’t make the decision for people” -often we think we know best and think “they wont be interested”- but give them the opportunity to make the choice themselves. Often the people we think wont be interested are often longing to hear the gospel message and are very open and responsive.

The book of Romans (chapter 10) poses the question “How will they hear unless someone preaches (or tells) them? Blessed are the feet of them that bring good news”.

Someone once said that “Evangelism scares Christians and non Christians alike”, the problem I believe our Churches are empty is not because people aren’t interested in Jesus, I believe the “fields are white unto harvest” is a picture for today as well as then, but because we ourselves in our everyday normal life don’t share the good news of Christ with those around us.

So much mission stuff is really wonderful like tidying up our local community, or getting involved in great social action, or putting on wonderful events but sometimes I do ask myself whether all this effort is simply to mask the fact that we are not actually telling real people about Jesus.

People simply don’t know the good news of Christ Jesus unless some-one tells them in a way they can understand, and that they can respond to.

The Gospel demands a response.

The Gospel presents us with a clear choice, are we accepting or rejecting the free but finished work on the cross or not.

Often we think we are being pastoral but not being too pushy, and I’m not sure people are argued or harangued into the Kingdom, but the gospel is challenging and people may choose to reject it and that is okay. well it is not okay for them, but maybe this wasn’t their time, the responsibility is to tell them clearly, faithfully in a way they can understand and respond to.

So, let’s not stop telling people about Jesus, and lets leave their rejection in his hands, knowing that we have carried out our duties faithfully and lovingly.