Spring Harvest: Lead Zone – part 1

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During my time at Spring Harvest this year I enjoyed the Lead Zone which was led by:

  • Debra Green – Elder at IVY Manchester, Leader of Redeeming Communities
  • Mark Madavan – led a church outside Southampton for 10 years, born in Canada, California, Plymouth, London etc; 44 years old

Jesus in the Gospel

Mt 16:15 – who do people say I am?  It is a simple question with a simple answer, and yet in the church we have lots of definitions for this, even in our head we have lots of different definitions!

Explain the Gospel message, would you be happy to do it?  Four spiritual laws, or the four images.  We often make it formulaic.  That makes Jesus a part player in the story.  The Good News is Jesus Christ.  We need to understand he isn’t a part player but the source of here life comes from.

Tom Wright in his book Simply Jesus challenges us to find the gospel within the gospel.  We need to get to the level below.  The Reformation took control away from the church, and coming back to Jesus was great.  An emphasis on grace, but it pushed Jesus away from the Gospel.  It moved the gospel away from the Gospels and into the realm of Paul’s writings.  It moved away from who was Jesus, what did he do.  We shouldn’t be able to share the Gospel without referring to and quoting Jesus.

Anyone have the moment preparing a talk linked to a parable and then ask why had Jesus said something ay the end that spoils it.  We come with too many answers, not enough questions.

How did Jesus describe himself?  What did he say.  Don’t ignore the rest of the New Testament, but how did they get to the awe of God they had, the cosmic earthly Jesus.   did Jesus say he was?

The context affects who he said he was – the disciples versus non-Jews versus Jews.

What is contemporary culture – is ti us, is it the church, is it non-Christians how do we think about that.

1.2 Jesus in God’s story

Colossians 1 – “all of creation is being redeemed” mentioned seven times in six verses.  From p. 20 in the theme book, p. 26 his actions showing what is the Kingdom of God – that broad view beyond building the church and it’s own narrow definition.  It should change the way we pray – your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.  It is more than our personal salvation, it is all about the way that we live our lives, and God being in all things and redeeming all things.

Have we adopted too narrow a view of the Good News, have we made the cross all about our personal salvation rather than the wider Kingdom views.  Has recruitment become the overarching purpose of the church?

Scot McKnight talks about “gospeling” where Jesus becomes our king by sharing the whole story fr good to be put back into the concept of Good News.

Prayer Network in 1993, praying for the city of Manchester for seven years, in big gatherings four times a year.  Prayed for crime, education, media, law and justice, housing etc.  So would interview people about their real life situations, the This Time Tomorrow concept.  The church became enlightened on what was happening, and as more aware could pray more effectively for God’s kingdom to come on earth – being specific and having understanding.

What is the difference between growing my church and spreading the Kingdom?

  • The Kingdom doesn’t need the church, but the church should develop the Kingdom.
  • Sacred and secular divide was such a negative issue
  • Coming to faith is more important than bums on seats.
  • How do you measure success – people there or reach – sewing seed not reaping corn?
  • The Internet Cafe – called The Vine and Branches Internet Cafe – spoke to people, prayed with them, helped them back into work – a mixture of sharing faith and social action
  • Street Pastors – invariably asked why do we do it.

Leaders are always frustrated as we are barely scratching at what we want to do.  Get used to it as that is what leadership is about.

What did Jesus say, what was his mission – yes the Spirit is on him but it is wider than that, he is always the King of the Kingdom in parables.  Get frustrated to see more of God rather than at God or others.

Ed Stetzer on 5 things the church needs to focus on

Ed Stetzer on 5 things the church needs to focus on

Outreach magazine recently celebrated its 10th year in publication, and as part of that Ed Stetzer wrote about five things we need to face as a church in the next ten years:

1. A clear understanding of the gospel.

Too many have assumed it, but we need to teach it. The gospel is not you do, it’s Jesus did. People don’t need to be taught to turn over a new leaf– they need to receive and live out a new life. That new life is from Jesus’ death on the cross, for our sin and in our place. Don’t build a message that would still be true if Jesus had not died on the cross.

2. A stronger focus on discipleship.

God shapes congregations through the shaping of individual members’ lives. But this doesn’t just happen by accident or as a by-product– God grows us as we are in a position to receive that growth. This can only happen through intentional awareness and leadership on the part of both leaders and church members. In our Transformational Discipleship project, the largest statistical study of its kind, we found that discipleship was both lacking and simple– we just needed to remind people to live out who God has made us in Christ.

3. A greater passion for mission.

We need to stand up against the clergification in the modern-day church– the tendency to look at those who are professional ministers and say that they are the ones who are called to the mission, while the people in the pews are merely consumers of religious goods and services. We need to see all of God’s people engaged in God’s mission, from their respective neighborhoods all the way to the nations. We stand at a key moment, and part of the answer is to engage more of God’s people in mission.

4. Evangelism in the age of the Nones.

We are now increasingly facing what I have called a post-seeker context. This does not mean that seekers no longer exist. The Spirit is always at work in the hearts of people. But churches that once focused their energies and efforts toward targeting seekers are finding it more difficult to appeal to a constituency with little to no religious memory. Churches will have to find new ways to lead their people to reach out to their neighbors– not just attractional evangelism, but incarnational evangelism as well– being, doing, and telling good news where we live and work.

5. New thinking in developing best practices.

God often uses tools for his ends– think of bus ministry in the 70s or radio ministry in the 50s. That’s still true today. As believers, we can and must be good stewards of our ministry and utilize tools wisely–like multisite churches, viral church planting, and finding new ways to serve those who are hurting and in need.

Click here to read the full article.

Kevin DeYoung on You Won’t Know Until It’s Too Late

Think - Desiring God Annual Conference

Kevin DeYoung has written a good post on preachers preaching passable sermons with no preparation:

Most pastors won’t tell you this, but they can preach a passable sermon with almost no preparation. We know how to string sentences together. We know more about the Bible than almost everyone in the church. We can cheat our prep time and no one will know. Not right away.

But over time, church members will think to themselves, “Something’s missing. There’ some power not here that used to be here. There’s some gospel connecting no longer at play. I can’t put my finger on it, but pastor doesn’t preach like he used to.” It happens slowly but surely. Maybe the emails seem more pressing this week, or maybe it’s a meeting, or this administrative thing. It’s not one massive thing, but a mountain of molehills. And then one day, Acts 6:4 is gone. The elders don’t pray. The pastors don’t study.

We must all fight for the ministry of the word and prayer. Elders and pastors must fight to keep it and congregations must fight to support it, to encourage it, to give time for it. Because most pastors and most parishoners don’t notice Acts 6:4 is missing until it’s too late.

You can read the rest here.