Tuesday, 30 June 2009


Last Central Gathering Richard and Jenny Dean shared their vision for the MSC they are leading called The Wanderers. They mentioned that part of their strategy was 'infiltration' - I love the idea of this - it is quite a word to use! It just articulates something of what we should be like as Disciples - people who seek after God's work in the world around us - not necesarily providing things that people come to but going to where they are, where life is and becoming part of it. So they are part of a number of groups and seek to share life with the people it seems they are connecting with.
Jesus' strategy for evangelism was of this type - to enter a place, see whether there is a welcome, where there is peace and the opportunity to stay. See Matthew 10.
All the MSC's in some ways function around this idea - that there are appointments that God has prepared for us, people of peace, doors opened out there in the world around us. So we continue to seek to be a church of communities of disciples in the mission of Jesus with a message not of 'you come to us' but 'we'll come to you'.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Counting the cost to be fit for service

Last Sunday at our twice a month central gathering we were looking at 3 of Jesus' encounters with people:

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, "I will follow you
wherever you go." Jesus replied, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have
nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head." He said to another
man, "Follow me." But the man replied, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Still another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family." Jesus replied, "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God."
Luke 9:57-62
I noted 3 challenges for us as followers:

1) Comfort - the guy who tells Jesus he will follow him and maybe expects congratulation and affirmation only to be probably surprised or even shocked by Jesus telling him that his way of life is one where he gets nowhere to lay his head. It is not a comfortable way.

2) Convenience - this guy seems to have a pretty good reason not to respond immediately to Jesus calling him to follow. Jesus' reply challenges the way in which we seem to find all sorts of plausible excuses not to put following Jesus first in our lives. We fit Jesus into our diaries and calendars forgetting that we wil live better by submitting them first to him.

3) Distraction - "I will follow you, Lord; but first let me..." - how many times do we function by the word 'but'? Too much. It isn't wrong for someone to want to say goodbye - it just isn't great to be distracted - there are always things that could distract us - I am writing this with lots of commotion of our family-life around me and am having to concentrate hard so as not to lose the thread of my thoughts. It is so easy to find an excuse for not following NOW. As Jesus points out, if we were ploughing and kept looking back the furrow we have created will be next to useless for sowing and harvesting. So often we look at other things, we look back and find ourselves moving in the wrong direction. We are therefore not fit for kingdom purposes.

As we continue to develop mission shaped communities we will find that there are times when we have to tackle these kinds of things in ourselves - are we ready to count the cost?

Friday, 5 June 2009

Psalm 84 Pilgrimage

Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whoose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
As they pass through the valley of Baca,
they make it a place of springs;
the autumn rains also cover it with pools.
They go from strength to strength,
till each appears before God in Zion.
Psalm 84:5-7

This Psalm beautifully describes something of our vision.
Finding Strength in the Lord
We seek to be people who find strength in God. The journey for this church has been the stripping away of all the things that usually churches find strength in - we must be wary of seeking strength in anything but God. Strength to strength - as in our weakness we find our strength in him.

Hearts set on Pilgrimage
Pilgrimage - a journey to God, with God, seeking God and experiencing his company. On the move, community on the go.

Bringing life and blessing
The valley of Baca is the place of tears - as we go we expect that the Lord's work in us will be life-giving - springs and God-blessing - pools.