So yes, I started out on what I felt was akin to ‘churchy detox’ back in 2010…maybe before that.   At the height of it I think I was almost an iconoclast 100%.  I came to feel that the thing I was in no real way resembled the movement that Jesus began.  I still think that, to be honest, but having got some things out of my system   I’ve been holding the reins lightly on a whole range of things and issues in an attempt to explore something of the essence of the true essentials.  Here are some of the things I’m picking up and running with these days:

1.  The Lordship of Jesus.  Fundamental to those essentials is the Lordship of Jesus over everything, especially over the movement he began.  Thats easy to say, but not so easy to work out in the context of the ‘stuff’ of denominations.  This means a determination to seek to build everything on his life, teaching and example.  The source and inspiration for mission, discipleship, worship and ministry.

2.  The radical call to discipleship.  It flows that if Jesus is Lord, then discipleship is the only natural consequence.  He demands our all, he will not be compartmentalised.  The call to follow is a call to the cross.  Its a call to follow the extravagant God of grace so wonderfully expressed in Jesus…the live we are called to live should be stunning, astounding even.

3.  The coherency of the movement.  Whilst I believe that the movement that Jesus started is radically inclusive, I do believe there are central things to be build on.  For example, I believe ministry should be build on the Ephesians 4 ministries resulting in a more fully rounded ministry and that no one gift should be valued above another because all are necessary.  These are the foundations that Jesus himself laid and we need to explore how that works itself out.  ‘True doctrine’ comes out of this apostolically based context…and there are key things that are central to coherent faith.

4.  Commitment to mission.  I believe that 1 – 3 will make this so much more natural than it currently is.  A people on mission will always have a ministry.  Mission always leads to ministry because we work in a broken world with broken people.  Christendom model of ‘church’ has marginalised mission.  Astoundingly, God is like the landowner who continues to go to the market place to look for new workers….I am sure that he wants us to join him in that.

5.  Commitment to community.  Now, community is not the end result.  Community is a means to an end, but its a crucial means.  Jesus following is a team sport.  We’re family.  Community is the prophetic antedote to our Western consumeristic, ‘I-centred’ society.  ‘None of us lives for ourselves’ declares Paul writing to the Roman church.   I believe, however, that I’ve never really experienced community properly in ‘church’…not to the extent that it has began to resemble communitas (communitas being the description of the new dimension communities take on when consumed by a particular task or mission).

Those, for me, are the essentials.

Jesus the Grinner

Every have those days when you’re sorely tempted to be so hard on yourself?  Hmm.  You see, the thing about living a covenant or a ‘rule’ or a ‘way of life’ like the ones I’ve always commitment myself to is that as well as giving direction, they also give you a good talking to.  That, in a sense, is their value and purpose.  At the moment, I’m pretty rubbish at all three of the points (authentic, relational, missional).
My struggle in particular at the moment (as always) is the whole question of authenticity.   The first pointer on my current rule is to be ‘Authentic:  true to Christ.’  Jesus and I have this thing going on just now.  Its like this:  I’m out there doing the regular stuff…you know, being the ‘pastor’ type figure at Trinity, and Jesus is there sorta ‘grinning’ at me…a sort of ‘knowing look’.  Hilarious!  I think he finds it quite amusing.  I find it quite amusing too.  Ok…maybe its a private joke!
But more seriously, this thing has been teaching me something quite important.  Its teaching me that the church in general takes itself much to seriously, and those of us leading them sometimes do too.  Of course, our mission is of utmost importance, without a doubt….but then, you see, there are all the other things we’ve made it.  Don’t get me wrong, Trinity is an amazing place to be and my love for the people there grows daily, but like most other folks, we have our ‘stuff’.  So, Jesus and I grin quite a lot.  I recommend it as a prayer exercise!
Back in early 2010, I had hit a massive submission moment in my life…a moment which lead to a whole load of other stuff happening.  But it was a commitment to be true to Jesus above everything else.   In the holiness movement, we’d call it a crisis moment that leads to a deeper consecration and commitment to the life of holiness.  To regular joes, basically it was a whole notch up on my Jesus following compared to that point.  I’d been following before, but there were things getting in the way.  My desire was that he’d be the closer focus.  I hope that its obvious that I’ve sought to be true to that.  I’ve been seeking to be very much all about Jesus.  The learning curve since then has been about evaluating what is necessary and which is expendable in the life of discipleship and maybe even leadership.  
And he grins because I think the process has honoured him, but I also think there are some things that he has shown me that I’ve yet to have the courage to act upon or work out into doing.  Some of those are really simple things.  Others are fundamentally challenging and which I’ve actually shrunk back from dealing with.  And that is the crux of inauthenticity.
So, I note this stuff down and we work on it together.  Moving hopefully towards a new shade of authenticity all the whilst trying to keep the balance like the fiddler on the roof.