You need to know where you are going!

I’m just back from a great church weekend.  Simon Jones certainly gave us much to think about ‘outside of the box’.  I’m glad to see that Simon sums it up as: “Nice people, good atmosphere, lively conversations – and the sun’s shone”.  Simons blog A Sideways Glance is always worth a read.

My small contribution was to speak from Eph 2 (this is slightly paraphrased):

He came and preached peace to us who were far away, and peace to those who were near. For through him, we both have access to the Father by the same Spirit.

Consequently, we are no longer foreigners and outsiders, but fellow citizens with all God’s people. We are members of his family. We belong together!

And we are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him, the whole church is built and joined together, and is to become a holy temple in the Lord. In him, we too are being built together – to become a dwelling in which God lives in us by his Spirit.


Whilst my task was originally to encourage people to pull together as a church with a common vision, I’m conscious that drawings of structures and lists of things to do, can seem very institutional.

Indeed as Simon said, our churches have been run as Victorian friendly societies. In my view because of recently charity law changes, more recently we have been pressed into being something akin to a small business.   Having proper policies and procedures absolutely have their right place! Things have to be done rightly! But charities are all about safety; the Kingdom is all about risk.

So this is where we are going:

image 1. Into a deeper sense of the Presence of God in our personal life.  God lives in us by his Spirit.  In Ephesus was the Temple of Artemis, and at it’s heart the statue of Diana.  As Paul wrote, people worshipped at this stone God. Not surprisingly just a few hundred years later, the cult of Mary worship grew out of the residual cultish beliefs in Ephesus.  In Jerusalem, the Temple had become a place of sectarianism and exclusivity, and was soon to be destroyed.  Neither offered worshippers then or us now what Christianity did and does: Christ in us by his Holy Spirit.  The very presence of God in us.

How we ache of a greater sense of God presence in our lives.

image 2.  Into a deeper appreciation of the diversity and depth of the Family of God.  Jews and Gentiles are united in one Spirit.  We are justified by faith and therefore have peace with God and one other.  Commitment to one church (GBC) doesn’t mean we all have to be the same, indeed we are not.

Our sense of community comes from the sense of belonging together.  Simon challenged us to think about eating together as the common activity between different gatherings and groups.  There is certainly NT evidence to suggest that the early church mainly met together in the context of eating together.  But we cannot build community half-heartedly. Our commitment to one another comes from being brothers and sisters in the same adopted family.

How we ache to belong to a family of God which respects diversity and rejoices in our unity.

image 3. Into a greater experience of the Kingdom of God. John Wimber visited a church early in his spiritual journey, immediately after he had spent considerable time reading the gospel accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus. John approached the pastor and asked him: “So, when do we do the stuff?” “The ‘stuff’,” said the pastor. “What’s the ‘stuff’?” “You know,” John replied, “the stuff in the Bible, like healing the sick and casting out demons. The stuff!” “Oh,” replied the pastor. “We don’t do the stuff. We believe they did it back in biblical days, but we don’t do it today.” With a rather confused look on his face, John could only say: “And I gave up drugs for this?”

“The Stuff” of the Kingdom is always about the breaking in of the Kingdom into our world.  In healing, deliverance, setting captives free …  As we have been singing this weekend:

I cherish Your name
All I desire
Is Your presence again

There’s no strength in these bones
So Lord come fill me
I can’t do it alone
So Lord be near me
For Your kingdom come
Lord work through me
And be glorified

Not for here, but for there
With the lost and the lonely
Not for here, but for there
With the broken and the hungry

How we ache to see the Kingdom break out from within our community and into the neighbourhood.

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