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Archive for the ‘Discipleship’ Category

On Monday at Messy Church our focus was heroes – specifically the heroes of the Bible and how we can all be superheroes for God as we respond to the command: Love God, love others.  We encouraged our young people to dress up in a hero costume and so we had – Woody, Jessie and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story, we had Superman, Batman, various princesses, Captain Jack Sparrow, Mulan, SuperSmurff, Harry Potter, Wonder Woman, Cat Woman, to name but a few.  We had fun games, made crafts based on various stories of Bible heroes, heard the story of the greatest Superhero ever – God’s son Jesus, and shared a meal together at which over 90 were served … a great time was had by all.

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Some time ago a minister was approached by a couple who expressed a desire to become members of his congregation.   The man said of course he wanted to join the church, but the minister must understand he was rather busy and couldn’t give any time to anything like teaching the children or singing in the choir.   The wife added that went for her as well, and not to look for them too often on a Sunday as they both played golf and spend a lot of time away at their weekend cottage.   Of course they couldn’t join the envelope scheme or commit to a set amount of money every week because of all their many other financial obligations, but they would give whatever they could whenever they were there.

 

Gone out of business

The minister thought for a moment and replied, “I think you stopped at the wrong church.   We understand the purpose of our church somewhat differently here.   The church you want is in the next village.”  The couple got in their car and drove to the next village.   They found the other church – abandoned and boarded up – “gone out of business”.

 

Back in May I was at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.   It was, in my opinion, an Assembly that if you weren’t paying attention you could be forgiven for thinking nothing much happened.   You see on one hand it was a very muted affair, on the other hand, the change that was agreed was almost unparalleled in recent times.   Why?   Well, I guess because the National Church is trying to ensure that we don’t “go out of business”.   However, I feel the coming changes, are something that should encourage us all, rather than frighten us.  

 

Many of the reports at the Assembly focused on what it means to be the Church and reminded us that the work of the church isn’t just for the one (the minister), or the few (who faithfully volunteer), but for all the members.   You see the church, the family of God, was designed by Him to be a team working together, in unity, for one purpose:  to share His message in our community, our nation, our world.  This is a biblical model: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are a team! They work together as one, in relational harmony, to bring about God’s plans and purposes.  And we, the church, are part of that team. The Apostle Paul describes the family of God here on earth as the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27), and he reminds us that when each vital, and separate part of the body works as it is intended, ‘the whole body grows and builds itself up in love’ (Eph 4:16), and when that happens – nothing can stop us.

 

So, in the weeks and months ahead, prayerfully consider where God might be calling you to do your part, to ensure that His Church (wherever it might be in the world) continues to fulfil its mission.   And let our response be – “Here I am, send me”, rather than, “Here I am, but please send someone else I’ve just got so many other things going on in my life”.

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During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2010, Christians throughout the world will be listening together to the promise and commission that are part of Christ’s final words before his ascension: “You are witnesses of these things.”  And today our theme is “Witness through hope and trust”.

Here’s some of what I said this morning:

I want to begin with a question:  Why do we come together today?

Well maybe I can only answer for myself.   

Old Parish Church Baillieston

Having been brought up in Lanarkshire, where former mining villages once thrived with immigrants from all over Scotland and Ireland, we were left a legacy of distrust over the differences we had when it came to religion. Yet in the particular village where I grew up I was also aware that we had a legacy of support for one another.

I want to share with you a short extract from a book written about the village that I grew up in, where 25 pages were given over to the impact of the various churches in that area.

 

St John's Episcopal Church Baillieston

St John’s Episcopal Church Baillieston was opened on the 23rd December 1850, but by 1908, St John’s was in dire financial straits.

 

 

“A Diocesan Committee was set up to decide whether St John’s was fit to continue as a charge. (more…)

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It’s funny how some things come to mind at just the right moment.   I was talking to someone today about ministry.  They were speaking about how much we try to cram into the day; the week; the month; actually life in general, when it comes to church and ministry.  And a dim memory of something I read and used to have inside my Bible came to mind – about how it’s not all about high activity, that there has to be waiting, listening, noticing, and paying attention.   Sure enough there it was, unread for a number of years, but still relevant and a timely reminder.

It comes from Mike Yaconelli, who was a writer, pastor, theologian and satirist, who although he was writing about youth ministry when he summarized Jesus’ methods of discipling people, I feel it is relevant to all ministry.   Here’s part of what he wrote …

Hang out with the disciples…
Let them see you at your best and your worst…
Teach truths that none of your disciples can grasp at the moment…
Spend lots of time alone…
Go slowly…
Spend hours in solitude…
Don’t worry about opposition…
Ignore criticism…
Don’t expect immediate results…

Mike Yaconelli  “YouthWorker Magazine” Jan/Feb 2001

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