There are few things more invigorating and inspirational than the opportunity my job gives to get alongside people and accompany them on their Jesus following. The privilege of those moments when people come with open questions, ponderings, doubts, and expressions of faith beyond what I can even imagine!
And what a privilege to be able to share openly from my own life and experience, learning and journey so far. I am in a very freeing time of life where I honestly feel I’ve nothing to ‘prove.’ By that I mean I have little interest in the Christian career ladder and even less interest in comparing the size of my church to yours. Quite honestly, I’m equally as happy amongst an urban church of around 20 like we were in Aberdeen or amongst a suburban 350 like we are here in Gosforth. The quality comes in the relationships and the interactions, not on the size of your container.
I am at my best when I can be me. You’re at your best when you can be you. We’re at our best together when we are authentic in our relationships and where we can deal honestly and truthfully about our lives. This is the tremendous privilege of being part of the body of Christ.
The thing is, you can’t be in relationship to everyone. If everyone is relying on a few key people to dish out the professional pastoral care, the church becomes ineffective and people can rightfully say ‘we’re not being cared for.’ It is an inevitable conclusion, a natural outcome of that model of ministry whatever numbers you are talking about.
The body of Christ needs a face to face dynamic. It needs to be organic rather than mechanistic, relational rather than hierarchical, participatory rather than consumerist. It also needs to have fun, eat, laugh, cry, take days off, work like a trooper and party like….well, Jesus!
More than all of that, we need to continue to find fresh ways to flesh out what it means to be a Jesus people for the 21st C. People aren’t really impressed by ‘religion’, referring to stuffy institutionalism. But people are really interested in re-ligion…a way of being that re-ligaments, joins up together the hard realities of life and the sustaining nature of faith and reliance on grace through Christ.
It is that kind of Kingdom family expression which got me hooked on the people of God and which, ultimately, in spite of my frequent misgivings about ‘what we’ve made it’, still keeps me at the core of things and taking the rough with the smooth.
It is a real privilege – one that I don’t deserve and certainly didn’t earn or achieve – to inspire deeper connection to the one who calls us.
“My task is to bring out in the open and make plain what God, who created all this in the first place, has been doing in secret and behind the scenes all along. Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!
All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. When we trust in him, we’re free to say whatever needs to be said, bold to go wherever we need to go.
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3 (The Message)