What do you want to show?

All churches are full of culture, personality, vision and character. Church is a living, breathing organism of people from all different backgrounds, jobs, ages, and even old age “social classes”. We all bring something with us and each member has their own talents and gifts to enrich their church family.

But what do we look like from the outside? What do we show the local area?

Every church has a vision, and a statement of how they want to fulfill that vision. When was the last time your vision statement was updated? Is it still a valid vision for your area? Has there been a change to housing, new estates been built or knocked down? Has there been a big drop in the local economy, a loss of jobs, a number of jobs created? Has the number of families increased or decreased since your statement was created? Has your church grown or seen a number of people left? Has the leadership changed? These will all have some affect on the vision of the church in some way, even if the change is a positive one.

Does your church want to be relevant to the local community? Then from leadership down, it must been shown and lived out. Devotion? Be devoted. Live what you preach and teach, live and breathe the Word.

St Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words”.

Actions speak louder than words, so what we live and communicate is vitally important. We can be watched by our communities, and if we are living different to our vision and teaching, then how do we differ from the world? How do we show ourselves to be the Bride of Christ in a world that lives the opposite of what we see in the Bible.

Think about how our fellowships are coming across to the outside unchurched locality. Welcoming? Accepting? Bible believing? Christ filled? Empowering? Devoted? Loving? Teaching?

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Commission

Luke 4:18-19

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has annointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lords favour.

Matthew 28:19-20

Go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Soirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

This is very clear in the New Testament. This is our mission. Jesus came with this mission and fulfilled it, along with the wonderful work of reconcilliation He finished on the Cross. We exist yo worship God and to proclaim Him to the Earth with  a purpose.

Most churches have mission statements, and can be long and detailed with many words. Do they contain within them, no matter how ling or short, the mission they exist for? Does the church operate within the mission given by Christ?

The Church is a growing, living thing and changes all the time. Each church changes by generation to generation, Pastor to Pastor, Elder to Elder. As a church grows, it might need to look again at its mission statement, it might need changing or rewriting. Above all, I feel a church needs a mission statement, and it needs to be known by every member and followed from Leadership down. It has to be taken on by all as a personal mission within the community and local areas, and within its own walls. If we start with the words of Jesus and try to follow His ways, we wont be far short of the right paths at any time, but only if we stay as close to Him as we can.

Apologies

I am so sorry for how long it has been since I last wrote anything. It has been so crazy busy in our home and I just havnt had time to think.

Our church are looking at revival, and it has been a burning prayer for some of us for a while now. We are not interested in the numbers game, but desperately want to see souls saved, especially those around us within our friends and family circle. It is a cry from our hearts, but is it something we are willing to get our hands dirty for? It is a question I have been asking myself and this is not aimed at anyone but me first. What am I willing to do or say to bring those I love to Gods mercy seat? Am I willing to be laughed at, to be derided, to be a fool for Christ? Am I willing to put the hard work in place to be there whenever anyone needs me to be? These are very serious questions I am asking myself, because I need to make sure I am not putting my own needs first, not putting my feelings or fears before telling those around me the gospel.

I see a worrying trend within the Church of allowing the World in. Our conversations are full of it, our love of things, of money, of power, of position. It is on our lips more than God and His Word are. We are getting to the point of more interest in the world than seeing our loved ones saved. Can this really be true? Can all our topics of conversation be that lacking in heavenly things?

Watchman Nee says in his book, Love not the World, “Never in this sphere of things have we needed to know the power of the Cross of Christ to deliver us as we do at the present time”. And he goes on to say, “When we are faced with alternatives and a choice of way confronts us, the question is not: Is this good or evil? >Is this helpful or hurtful? No, the question we must ask ourselves is: Is it of this world, or of God? For since there is only this one conflict in the universe, then whenever two conflicting courses lie open to us, the choice at issue is never a lesser one than: God…or Satan”.

Now Watchman Nee wrote this a long time ago, and my book of it was copywritten 1968. It seems to us that he lived in a different time than the 21st century, but if so, then how is it that what he wrote is so relevant to us today? He could have written those words this week! We need to ground ourselves in Christ and His Word to us. Do we want to see more souls saved and if so how much? Do we long to see it? Is it something we are desperate for? Is it our hearts cry? If not, then why not?

I feel it is time for the Church to be seen in communities, to make ourselves visible. I think it is a wrong attitude to expect the community to come to us for answers. We need to show that we have the answers already within us, our changed lived are the proof we need. With God on our side, what do we have to fear? Living for God is our answer to any question.

Amen Lord, come Lord!!!

First Church, Church First?

I love reading Acts, and learning about the first Church and how they lived and interacted with each other and those who came against them. Most of the early years had believers who had followed Jesus during his time on earth, or who knew him throughout his life and even those who had never met him but knew of him. It was an exciting time for the Apostles as they watched their new baby Church growing each day with converts whose life was transformed by the name of their beloved Christ. They were strong and dynamic leaders who did not shy away from discipline and teaching. There was structure and community and they each devoted themselves to knowing God more and more and encouraged their congregations to do the same. It would be unusual for a believer not to want to know more, not to want to grow and mature.

Acts 2 vs 42 – 47

Fast forward 2000 years to the Church of God today. I know many who would love their churches to be more like the church of Acts, myself being one of them. I know its not possible, and not because I dont think we can do it. We are a different generation and its a completely different world now. The first church was the benefit system for a start. It was a hard life for those who were orphaned and those who were widows. There is a safety net today that was not there then. It does not mean we don’t have an obligation to still look after these precious people anyway, but we don’t seem to think we have to. I know many older people who are using Food Banks while they are members of a church. Why? Because we dont think they are our responsibility anymore. They are. We are still a community whether we lived 2000 years ago or in the 21st century.

The church described in Acts was a healthy growing community. It was devoted to God and each other, devoted to prayer and fellowship. Church is like an organic mass of people. It needs things to grow, it needs structure and support. It got that from prayer, Gods living water and teaching. Strong leadership but not to the point it was suffocated and its voice was drowned out. We need exactly the same things to grow today. We are no different in these ways than then, even if our world is a very different place to live. We might not be able to be the church of Acts in many ways, like living as a community, but we can still care and love each other as Christ loves us. How unlike those in the world around us would we be if that is the attitude we took. If we stop being so concerned about how we look if we pray for our friends and family, the shopkeeper who is having a bad day, the officer handing out parking tickets, the guy who serves our coffee in the cafe. We would start to see change and would be known as a Christian without having to say anything because we would be so different and it would make an impact.

Living Stones

The Church of God is built of us all, we are the living stones held together by the mortar of Jesus Christ. We are a family of stones, all connected by our Lord. A family of believers who are here because the first Church who walked the Earth with Jesus, gave all they had and all they were to make sure that the Good news and the Gospel of Jesus was spread across the entire world. They died for their belief, gave up all they had, their families, homes, jobs, the lot. They wanted to make sure that until the day their Lord came back to Earth, the message He sent them out with never faded or died with Him. They did their utmost, and we are here today in the 21st Century still with His Gospel. If we sit and think of all the years the same message has been the same, how it has changed the world and peoples lives as it passed from one year into the next, we would be there for a while. Our Church family, our spiritual relatives, were martyred and tortured to make sure we go to heaven with them. They were so brave, and lived for their Lord. What about us? Will the message of hope be the same message in 100 years? How about 500? What would we give up to make sure more people go to heaven with us? Would we give our lives, desires, families, to make sure we save as many as we can? What will it take from the 21st century believers to make sure Christ is known throughout the world?

Living stones are connected and a community. It doesnt matter the miles we are apart, even if we are on separate continents. We are all motivated by the desire to honour, love and live for our Lord. He has saved us from horrors we could never describe. He has saved us from ourselves, our sins, the sin of human nature that is opposed to God. The separation that was created with the first sin has been bridged for us. That sacrifice is the most precious gift we can ever be given. If we don’t do anything else in this life, we need to make sure that is the one thing we pay attention to and accept. We learn dependence, on God and each other. We belong to a safe community that has unity in the Lord who it loves. We learn to be cared for and learn to be who we were intended to be before sin and separation pulled us away.

1 Peter 2 vs 5 “You also as living stones are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ”.