Monday, 8 September 2014

The power of 'Re'. Re:Member

We are getting better at putting new people through courses to help them join the local church. However, numbers of our existing members, some of whom may have been running faithfully for many years, may not feel quite so connected as the newcomers who are being added into them?
They may not any longer make such a strong connection between their serving, their worship, their gifts, their life in the home or the workplace, and the big mission that we are called on together?

It may just be possible that over time, the vision has become less sharply focussed for them:  No longer acting as a directional force behind their actions, or strong pull into a future in God that they long to inhabit.

It's quite possible this is the case, because we recognise the symptoms in our own lives. Honestly? We don't live every minute of every day in the vision zone, pumped, primed and totally clear on our goals and direction!
The truth is, we forget. We get tired and weary, we drift off course, we allow good and bad distractions to divert us or just hold us up for a while. We repeat patterns in our worship and our service over again with faith, but don't always remember why we do them. It's not that the mission doesn't matter any more, everyone agrees that it does - it's just that we're not sure how it all connects up and how we get back on track.

As believers, we are being drawn into the hope of a compelling biblical worldview, which it is possible to lean into afresh and line up with anew. The view ahead hasn't changed - our very New Testament mandate to love Jesus passionately, love one another deeply, and love our lost generation, both near and far away with a compassion that flows from the heart of God. Agreed!

Our RE:Member teaching this month in the local church is a simple attempt to take this shared agreement on the mission, and try to join up the dots for our lives, our serving teams and the main things we do together in church life.

The prefix 'Re' is worth noting. It means to go back, to return again. For example - If I 're'turn home, I am going back to my house. If I tell you that my hair is 're'ceding, then you will understand that the hairline is actively moving back across my scalp!
Or maybe we consider the prefix in the context of doing an action over again? If I 're'arrange the furniture, I am not doing so for the first time, but arranging it again, perhaps into a new configuration or returning it to how it was supposed to be.

In returning to our first call, there may even be some areas of thinking, behaviours or attitudes which no longer line up with the biblical culture that we now see more clearly again. This is our opportunity to reject them, to refrain, recant, reduce or even make redundant.  Even these responses are positive, freeing us to focussed and unhindered momentum once again.

Every church needs time to Re:member, for both new and old. Reminding us all what we are made for, who we are made for, the mission we are on and the connection our everyday lives and serving have to it.

This is our hope and prayer through this season:
That we would be re-energised, re-equipped, revitalised as we rediscover our purpose. May God himself refresh and rebuild us as we reconnect and recall his direction for our lives together.
As reflection and re-evnvisioning enables us to  recalibrate our thinking, let our foundations be firmly re-established, our daily purposes redeemed, our deep hearts for God, one another and the lost world refilled and rejuvenated. Amen

Monday, 1 September 2014

Top Three Reads of the Summer

It's part of the job description perhaps to be asked what I have been reading, or even to recommend something. This is always highly subjective, and previous blog posts have made suggestions on key titles in certain topic areas or the best big books you should invest in.

However, after a summer absence from the blog, here are my top three reads from this August. You may love them or hate them!

In traditional reverse order:

3/ A Delecate Truth - John le Carre
No one weaves a spy yarn like le Carre. Even without the more familiar back drop of the cold war, this modern, suspenseful tale walks the line between big business, politics and espionage. It's a proper thriller, with an ending to leave you shouting out loud,  that I was pleased to read, retro style, in paperback!é/dp/0241965187/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1409585585&sr=8-1

2/ Saving Eutychus - Gary Millar and Phil Campbell
This practical book is written with the intention of helping preachers to teach God's word AND keep people awake and engaged at the same time. It was surprisingly simple, very practical, and full of the kind of helpful examples and analysis that make you re-assess your own style and delivery. One of the better books I've read on the practise of preaching in a while.

1/ The Bible in 100 Pages - Phil Moore
This excellent little book, based on a sermon series preached recently at Everyday Church, does exactly what it sets out to do. In literally 100 pages, Phil takes us through the big story of the bible, managing to give the scope and breadth of this grand narrative and demonstrate how it all holds together. Many books do this well, but to do so in such a concise way, and to engage the reader and provoke pastoral application - this is impressive! I read it, and it is now working it's way through my teenage children one at a time!
It's really cheap on the Kindle, under £3, but I bought the paperback knowing we would pass it around.

Honourable mentions go to Tom Wright's helpful 'Acts for Everyone', and also the grittily honest 'All is grace', the last word from Brennan Manning. But for this summer, Phil Moore's Bible in 100 Pages gets the award!