Had a great day in Bristol on Saturday looking at the question “have we made church too complicated?” Most there were Baptists although there was a mix of people from leaders of “traditional” congregations to those pushing out on the fringes. Stuart Murray Williams set the scene for the day and then I’d been asked to share some stories about Simple Churches in the UK/Ireland.
99% of the people there believed that Church is “not working”
During my session I tried to provoke people into thinking what would need to happen for people to describe things as ‘working’. I explained how Simple Church as a model or idea doesn’t work! Check out the Mission Britain Report into these forms of Churches here. And, as usual, the focus soon became about the questions that everyone seems to be asking:
What is a disciple of Jesus?
How did Jesus make disciples?
How are we making disciples?
God is stirring people up across the different streams of “the church” and it is exciting. Many are looking at how Church can be simpler and more effective. If you are interested in practical training that gives solutions to the questions above then check out www.newformsresources.com.
However in many circles much of the discussion is still very much ‘church based’ as opposed to mission focused and discipleship driven.
We headed up to Nottingham to gather with Prophets from around the UK. It was great to hear what God is saying and to meet with others who feel called to speak the truth of God’s message without compromise or fear. You can read more about this area of the work here
We are continually looking to pray, sow, gather and multiply here in the South West. Today we met a guy who said He wanted to know more about the living water that Jesus offers. We asked where we could meet with him to look at some things in the Bible about Jesus and if there was anyone else who might be interested in joining in. He said that his girlfriend and some others would be interested. We’ll go around to see them, have a meal and look at the Bible together.
After that encounter we had a confrontation with a witch and her mates.
The battle is only just beginning – soldiers of Christ arise….
We had a great weekend in Nottingham at the Newforms National Gathering. You can watch a video about it here. It was great to hear Peter (Farmer) sharing, to hear Neil Cole’s thoughts on Missional teams and movements and to meet like minded people from the UK and beyond. Movementum (as Neil Cole calls it) is definitely growing and it’s exciting to be part of it. You can also catch some more Neil Cole videos from the weekendhere
Mission South West
It has been encouraging to see the work here in the South West growing. We now have a growing group of “planters” who are starting simple/organic churches. We’re starting groups with people who are interested in knowing more about Jesus. And there’s a growing “Rapid response team” who want to go out on the ground to do “Pioneer Mission”. If you live in the South West of England and want to get involved then send us an email : email@example.com
The more we read the Bible and talk to people who don’t know Jesus – the more we realise what Jesus is all about…
We are now in the thick of the mission work here in the South West but it’s taken a while to get out of the old mindsets and expectations.
Someone said to me yesterday about what would happen if martians landed from another planet and just started to do live out what the Bible said. My friend joked about how they wouldn’t do a lot of the things that most churches practice and teach.
It is a sobering thought that Jesus only needed 12 men to kick start a movement (and one of those messed up!) There are, comparatively, a huge number of believers here in the UK but I wonder why the impact we are having is so much less. Is it that Jesus did something completely different to what we are all comfortable with?
Whilst I had been invited to join the camp as the “Speaker” I was not planning to simply stand up and tell the guys a load of my ideas and stories. But rather I wanted to share and model some of the tools and foundations which would help people to go and be who God wants them to be and do what He wants them to do…..
The whole aim of our time together, I felt, was to be reminded from scripture that Father God is not looking for religious experts who simply gather information about Jesus. But that God is looking for people who passionately worship Him through obedience to His Word and love for others.
We kept going back to Luke 7:36-50 to remind ourselves that passion for Jesus may often cause us to break protocol, tradition, religion and will lead us beyond gathering information to knowing the person and work of Jesus.
We began by looking at Jesus Christ…Why did He come…?What did He do….?What did He say…? We saw afresh from the scriptures that Jesus came to complete the Father’s will. He had a purpose which guided Him. He came to those who were physically and Spiritually sick and who knew they had a problem. He expressed everything about Father God in what He said, what He did and how He treated people. We saw again how He came not only to offer Himself as a sacrifice for people’s sins – but also to model a life completely surrendered to the Holy Spirit.
Then we read in scripture what Jesus asked people to do. We asked ourselves what a disciple of Jesus is and what one looks like! We found in scripture that a disciple of Jesus is someone who hears and does what Jesus says. A disciple is obedient to Jesus and His word. A disciple is also a “Fisher of men” so sharing our faith in Jesus is a central part of following Jesus. A disciple is someone who follows the example of Jesus in giving His life away for the sake of others. A disciple is someone who has the Spirit of Jesus (Holy Spirit) living inside them. We looked at Romans 6-8 and asked ourselves what it means to be “led by the Spirit” and talked about what this might practically look like….
Finally we looked at what Jesus said about following Him in community….We thought about how a part of being a disciple is encouraging and loving others. We read in Ephesians and in John 13-17 about how God desires to be revealed through groups of disciples who love each other, serve each other and wash each other’s feet. We finished our time together in small groups…washing each other’s feet, sharing what God had been saying to us and what we were going to do about it and finally praying for each other.
I came away feeling chuffed that God had spoken to us all through simply letting scripture speak for itself and through giving people the tools to do things themselves!
All we did was look again at:
1) Who Jesus was/is and what He did and said
2) What our personal response should be if we desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ
3) How our discipleship will lead us to serve and love others
In doing these simple things we were reminded about the love of the Father for us through Jesus Christ and how much we need to rely on and respond to the work of the Spirit in us. We were reminded about what God’s purpose is for us as the family of God and how a discipleship, foot washing shaped Church could spread to the ends of the earth….