To what are we called?



Administrative competence?

We are to facilitate others to make disciples.

We are to make disciples too but we are over-seeing others in their taking up of the Great Commission. So perhaps we should not imagine ourselves covering lots of services and if we do, we might have to think about to what it is we are really called.

I remember one of my own mentors and her ability to delegate, to ask God to give growth to lay-led ministry. It worked. Ministry teams now fulfil original visions and she is able to initiate new visions.

Ephesians 4:7 'he gave gifts to his people.'

Paul looks at the ascent and the descent. Christ comes as his Spirit descends and with the indwelling of his Spirit comes equipping of God's people. (The language here draws from Psalm 68 and YWHW's assent to Mount Zion, there are also echoes of Moses' ascent to Sinai here.)

The Spirit gifts us for the body and makes apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. We look today in class at how to facilitate the ministry of others.People are called right where they are. This is what I hoped to communicate in my preach this Sunday, gone, that the church is called to disciple its people so that its people can disciple right where they are. God's kingdom is bigger than the institution of the church.

We look at a ministry of encouragement. This is great. I feel passionate about this. We look at the power of a 'thank you' and that this is no trite thing.

But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silas and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but in him it has always been “Yes.” For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

How do we see people?
How can we encourage people?
We must pray about the people we are in contact with, tell people what we see in them, identify giftings and leadership in people. If people have not then got the time or inclination, we work with this: wait, pray and trust it to God.

There is then the necessary investment to be made and then trust. We need to trust and give away responsibility. A few years ago, I was asked to take over the toddler chuch. I really did not fully understand the gospel. Someone took a risk on me. I did not really know who Jesus was. But as I taught stories from the Lion Children's Bible, I got to know this Jesus I was talking about. I began to discover who Jesus was. I wonder what you think about that? Should that have occurred? It required that the church disciple me and they did. It required some kind of mentoring, explicit, maybe implicit. It also relied on faith in the Holy Spirit. It meant that I also made mistakes and was encouraged to learn from these mistakes.

Sometimes we have to be conscious about the roles people take on. We need also to train and mentor. Sometimes by trusting all, we avoid the necessary investment and the hard work required. There is an important sense of balance. With input, people can then develop a confidence through competence as well as a confidence through who they are in Christ. The two are not mutually exclusive, the threads weave through each, our God of the whole person!

We look at some of those buzz words in church life: mentoring, coaching etc Mentoring is more about input for the whole person, more long-term. Is coaching more task-orientated? These two things are related and it is better that we do not bring dichotomy to bear unhelpfully. Is apprenticeship a term that combines these two or has apprenticeship become a word too contaminated by its worldly associations?

We share together how for us it will always be that Jesus is our number one, our raison d'etre, reason for living, our every day. We also need to see that people have other callings on their lives, as indeed we do too. We need to see the whole person. I think that this is a good way to end this morning's session. I sometimes think it is all too easy for clergy to lose touch with the world and a God at work beyond the institution of the church.

I must admit, later as I reflect on all this and some of the discomfort I am feeling about all the future paper-work and bureaucracy, I think I need to think of this 'God of the whole person' again and how even though I feel this call to evangelism and preaching, God's grace also extends to the admin and the maintenance. We'll see.

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A little background reading so we might mutually flourish when there are different opinions