Well, time does fly.  But time is not the only reason for the brief gap in blogging.

You may or may not know that we have really been seeking the Lord as to where he would have us in our future.  Sometimes against all common sense, we think we should return to officership and we are pursuing discussions along that line.  But seriously, this is no easy decision.  Nor are we filled with 100% confidence or even joy at the thought…but if the Lord wills, we will joyfully obey.  We have, however, transferred to a local corps where we soldier when we can.  Thats not to say that our ‘soldiering’ isn’t 24/7 anyway…regardless of whether we are ‘at the corps’ or not.

My conundrum is that in these last 15 or 16 months, I’ve experience what I can only describe the most fruitful season of ministry in the last 15 years – all outside the Army.  The people here have blessed us and affirmed us in ways we cannot have imagined.  A true blessing – and they have been most receptive to our ministry.  Can you understand why it makes it so difficult to consider returning?  As blog readers, many of you will know our heart.  But you’ll also know of our struggle. 

The reality of our situation is that my Methodist colleagues and Nazarane colleagues would welcome us affirmingly into their ministry ranks open heartedly.  Sadly I can’t say that our conversations with the Army have been so affirming.  I’m reminded, however, that the ways of man are not the ways of God.  His call and hand upon our lives is not harsh, sceptical or critical.  He has shown us again and again his favour upon our lives in this last season.

Another aspect of life at the moment are considerable changes in the church I currently work in.  My colleague, the ‘senior pastor’, has accepted a call to another church which will leave the place I am in without someone in that role for at least 9 months and people are naturally looking to me to step into that role, albeit with support considering its a church of considerable strength of numbers (membership of c.350 and a much wider pool of influence).  So, at least we have a bit of a time frame to work things out in.

We don’t want to be double minded in this….but we need to have our hearts settled on the right path.  So, please forgive this personal blog.  I covet your prayers.  I ask you to pray that God’s will be done and that he will just give us a clear sense of his plan and vision.  We are assured that we are in his hands, yet he also knows our need of clear guidance.

Good Meetings

People tell me I lead a good meeting.  But what makes a good meeting?  By ‘meeting’ I mean a larger corporate gathering of a corps as opposed to a bible study/cell/ward/brigade meeting.  Of course, every meeting will have similar things in common: bible reading, prayer, worship etc  But I’m thinking more about the ‘approach’ as opposed to content.  For me, I think it is a good combination of the following:

1.  Vibrant worship.   By vibrant I don’t necessarily mean loud.  I mean worship where the Spirit is free to move and where people engage with him and more importantly, there is an expectation that he will move.  Neither do I mean here contemporary vs traditional.  The principle applies to both.  Any worship that is dead  is not helpful at all. But how do you make it alive? 

2.  Multi-voiced.  Honestly, if I’m the only person whose voice is heard as the leader, I’m not convinced at all that it can be a good meeting.  That is more about me performing a show for people.   I prefer to encourage a conversational culture where people might feel free to pray, testify, ask a question.  If you’re not in a situation where people would be comfortable with that, you need to train them and give opportunities to speak.  Create a culture of expectancy, invited people to come to corporate gatherings with the expectation that God will have something for them to contribute.

3.  Space.  I think good meetings don’t programme themselves to the minute.  There is a plan, perhaps, but there is always space for response and waiting on God or for a change of plan.  In the Army, we believe that the word of God demands our response and we must always give people time to do it….whether its a holiness meeting or a salvation meeting or whatever you want to call it…..space and opportunity for response.  Cut out the clutter or nonsense.

4.  Applicable preaching.  If preaching is to take place, people need to see how it helps them follow Jesus.  We don’t preach just to feed spiritual infants spiritual milk, we want to encourage, inspire, challenge and we preach for a verdict and invite people to follow where he is leading today.

5.  Authenticity.  You can’t control or make people authentic but you can choose to be authentic yourself and hope it catches on!  Really, if I’m stood there like a statue, it won’t give people the impression that God is even there.  I think this also talks about being yourself and not trying to be something or someone you’re not.  Let the Spirit inspire you as to how best to use who you are to lead others on.

6.  Mission-focussed.  God is a missional God…..he is all about mission.   What is your missiology of worship?  Listen, when you start conducting services and performing ministrations, you become a static temple-based system.  If you are a community in mission, your worship will reflect that.  Basically, when we worshipping it in the context of our calling to preach the gospel to all nations as opposed to having a parochial vision, the dynamism of the meeting will change and it will connect with all the days that happen between the main times you meet.

This isn’t exhaustive, there will probably be many things to consider, but I think these are good things to make a start on in begining to transform ‘the meeting’ and leave you with the sense of ‘it was good to be together’.