I am among you as one who serves

We’re taking some time to reflect on our 10 year missional adventure so far…Here’s a few thoughts I’ve been having as we try to decrease and ask Jesus to increase:

“I am among you” – People need Jesus

I feel a great anguish and compassion in my heart for the vast crowds of people who are not walking with Jesus and are heading to an eternity of punishment with him. It’s what compelled us into this journey of Church Planting over 10 years ago. Some use the phrase – ‘The brutal facts’ – to help people understand the sheer size and scale of the great commission that Jesus has entrusted into our hands as His disciples. As I write this I’m sat in a coffee shop watching hundreds of people walking past. How many of them are disciples of Jesus? What about their friends and families?

The Brutal facts tell us that over 90% of people in the part of the UK where we live have no meaningful connection with any form of Church – let alone being disciples of Jesus. You don’t need a theological degree to know that something radical needs to be done!

In a previous post I’ve written about the one thing – Christ in us – that is the secret to everything. After 10 years of front line mission I’m more convinced than ever that the answer is simply to introduce people to Jesus Christ! Spend less time dressing him up, dumbing him down and editing his words – and just let him do HIS thing in the lives of people you know (click here to watch more)

Throughout the scriptures we see evidence that Jesus, Paul and others exhorted people to follow their example (Matt 4:19, 1 Cor 11:1) Paul wrote that He was sending Timothy to the people to remind them of His ways in Christ Jesus (1 Cor 4:17) However Paul’s consuming passion was to present people perfect in Christ Jesus (Col 1:28) rather than to clone himself or get people to sign upto to ‘his way of doing Church/ministry!’

In our desire to pass on reproducible forms of discipleship and gatherings that can help to multiply movements of disciples and churches – let’s not forget the critical truth though that we are first and foremost introducing people to the living God through Jesus Christ (not a piece of paper, a formula or a book!)

To be quite honest – After ten years of experimenting (it feels like there’s been more failures than successes!) at making disciples and planting Churches I am wondering whether all the strategy, tools and principles have helped people we are working with fall more in love with Jesus and more devoted to Him? Don’t get me wrong I’m not rubbishing any of these things and still think they are very important…but if any of these things becomes more important than introducing people to the person of Jesus Christ for themselves then we need to stop!

Come to think of it…Have I fallen more in love with Jesus? (That’s a whole other blog post!)

So we’re still consumed with a vision of seeing generations of new disciples and Churches growing in their devotion to Jesus and each other…but maybe it’s not as much to do with us and our plans and tools as we thought…

“As a servant” – The weaker you are…the better

For anyone thinking about leadership in Jesus’s Church and what this looks and feels like – there a lifetime of lessons to be learned from Jesus! His example at the Last Supper in Luke 22 and John 13 cuts through what is paraded as leadership in most Churches today.

If we’re honest – most of us are searching for affirmation, identity and acknowledgement. We’re told that if we discover who we really are then we’ll find peace. We’re encouraged that when we find our place in the body then God will use us. There’s a problem with this. Churches are full of people who don’t serve and are only interested in themselves. We’re on a wild goose chase to discover what we need to know to make us feel complete and fail to miss that the goal of everything is to serve others.

At the last supper Jesus stepped into his true identity and calling (to use a well worn Christian-ism) But there was no spectacular ministry launch. There was no fanfare. What was the result of Jesus walking in His true identity?

“Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.” (John 13:3-6)

Let’s wake up friends. Jesus poured out His life. So did Paul (Philippians 2:17) And so have many others. Maybe instead of asking God for any more guidance about what He is calling you to do – you could consider serving others?

What if real joy is found in allowing ourselves to be stripped down, taking up a towel and helping and training others to find their spiritual destiny through actual and spiritual feet washing?

The less spectacular you are the better! It gives room for others to excel.

The less you know the better. Others will learn to find the answers.

The less you can do the better. Others will have the pleasure and joy of doing God’s work.

Are you prepared to become spiritually unspectacular for the sake of others?

Let me finish with a personal example from my life this week…And I share this to encourage you to become unspectacular for the sake of others.

We gathered with some of the local team at our house this week. The work here is developing in exciting ways and towards the end of the meeting one of the team asked a great question – “So what are we prepared to commit to in the work?” (I love questions like this which turn theory into faith!) I listened to people’s answers…some committed to developing the churches that meet in their homes, others committed to searching for people of peace in other towns. I have to be honest – something in me was trying to come up with a great answer that would prove me to be a great leader with superior spiritual wisdom (God help me!) When it came to my turn the Spirit reminded me of the scriptures I’d been reading from Luke 22 and all I could say was “I commit to serving you all and helping you to do everything God wants you to do and become the people God wants you to be”

As I spoke these words I sensed my heavenly Father smiling and chuckling as I’d accidentally discovered more about what it means to lead like Jesus did…

“Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant. Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves… (Luke 22:25-28)

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