Thursday, 24 May 2012

A Shy Pastor endeavouring to be Missional

If you're a Christian, you're probably as convinced as I am that we are meant to 'go and make disciples' - right? It's just the execution that gets a bit tricky. I'm a South African amidst Brits who don't really seem to want to know me or my story. On top of that I am an introvert and find relating to strangers very difficult. I just feel awkward and don't know the right thing to say. I sound a bit like I have a learning disability when I am trying to make small talk. I tell you, it can really be discouraging sometimes. So what does a person like me do to make disciples?
I decided to start at the beginning - 'Go...'. I began prayer walking our neighbourhood and a local council estate almost every Thursday. Through that someone offered me Christmas gifts to distribute to children on the counsel estate. Through that I met people on the estate. Through them I met the Community Development Worker. Through him I was invited to the Community Stake-Holders meeting. Through that I am helping the community put together a  community party to celebrate the Queens 60th Jubilee (I also get to play lead guitar in a band performing on the day :) How cool is that. Through all of this I have had two occasions where I was able to talk about my faith. How much impact I have had so far I don't know. All I do know is that going is better than staying. Not easier, just better.
Where could you start by just 'Go' -ing?

Thursday, 10 May 2012

A meditation on courage and faith

Joshua 1:3 (ESV) 3 Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.

Notice the 'have given to you' in this incredible verse. From what I can tell from looking at other translations, this is the better translation of the Hebrew. The NIV slightly contracts the verse by saying, 'I will give you every place where you set your feet...'. In essence those translators thought they were saying the same thing but I don't think it is.
The word 'have' as opposed to 'will' makes a big difference. What God was actually saying to Joshua was, 'I have already given you this land. It's a done deal. Now it's up to you to walk into this land and possess it. Everywhere where you put your feet in this land, I have already given to you'. Because God had already given it to him, all he had to do was to actually walk into/claim/inherit all that was already theirs in God's economy. There would be set-backs, opposition, criticism, grumbling and complaining but ultimately no-one would be able to stand against them because it was already settled in heaven. God tells Joshua this a few times in Joshua chapter 1.
This really speaks to me for the 'land' that God has given me...and you. What has God put in your heart to 'walk into'? What is your 'land'? Whatever He has put in our heart, He has already given us. He is waiting for us to step into that calling so that He can say to us, 'Every place that the sole of your foot will tread (in that particular area of calling) I have given you.'
No set-back, no opposition, no criticism, no lack, no grumbling and complaining can thwart what God has given us. There is only one exception to this litany of 'no .....' and that is 'I'. I can thwart what God has given me through not meditating on God's word, through not walking God's way, through fear, through dismay, and through not constantly being filled with the Spirit.
Note that God tells Joshua three times to be strong and courageous, and the tribesmen around him echo it back to him a fourth time. God is saying it to you, those around you are echoing it to you in the hope that you will take them into the 'land' that God has given you, 'Be strong and courageous'!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Be Unashamedly Spiritual!

Recently I read a study by Prof. William Kay of Glyndwr University, UK  - Apostolic Networks in the UK: the dynamics of growth. 2005. (Available from Glyndwr University Research Online). His study showed a remarkable correlation between the charismatic activity of ministers and the evangelism that happens in their lives. Furthermore, the study showed that the same correlation applied to the members of churches.

They were asked: In the last 3 months, how many times have you: Danced in the Spirit? Prophesied? Given a message in tongues? Prayed for the sick? Raised your hands in worship? etc. They had the options to tick various frequencies e.g. none; 1-6 times; 7-12 times; 13-18 times; 19+ times.

Even more significantly, the study showed that in churches where the minister is more charismatically and evangelistically active, so are their people. Prof. Kay writes, 'We can build up a picture of charismatically productive and evangelistically active ministers who create congregations in their own likeness' (p.8).

'What this also means is that Pentecostal and charismatic churches should be true to themselves and not allow the allure of respectability to seduce them away from their characteristic path. They would be deeply mistaken if they assume that, by dropping the potential embarrassment associated with charismatic gifts, they will secure their future and the continued upward graph of membership. Nothing could be further from the truth' (p.4-5).

Be unashamedly spiritual!

How would you score?

Saturday, 5 May 2012


I was talking this morning with a bunch of pastors about holidays with family and the question of whether we are resting in the Lord or resting from the Lord?

To my shame, I have found that rather than just being like the older brother in the parable - working hard on the farm for the Father but becoming grumpy and resentful for it, I think I have gone one worse - not just working for the Father rather than with Him, but worse than that, realising that a lot of my 'spirituality' was about trying to work the Father in order to gain success and significance. Maybe that is what older brothers are doing at the end of the day? When this was not working all that well (and God makes sure it never does!), then when I was on holiday, I felt a kind of balshy resentment towards spirituality and just went native. What a mess!

The more my relationship with God has been about relationship, pure and simple, not working God or working for God, and sometimes not even working with God but just being with God, I have found that I carry that spirituality into my leave times quite naturally and happily. It also means that I am lighter and happier all round, not this brooding clod of frustration that the family is tip-toeing around :-(