– Individually And As A Church
Every church tends to have a reputation, some as a loving community, others a worshipping community, others an outreaching community. The question we have been grappling with as a leadership is what sort of reputation we would want to have.
I always struggle putting up a flipchart, never seem to get it balanced. We have concluded that however difficult we want to lead a church that is balanced and to encourage a balance in individuals within the church. This follows the example of Jesus who lived out his life in 3 relationships, with his Father, with his disciples, with the hurting world around him.
We see this in Luke 6.
V12 One of those days Jesus went onto a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
Typical of what Jesus did, the disciples saw his dependence on God, he only did what he saw the Father doing. They would have copied that. The source of everything Jesus did was his relationship with his Father. So it should be with us.
We need to develop our Up relationship with God, as church and as individuals within the church.
V13 When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he designated apostles.
Elsewhere we are told he chose them so he might be with them. It was not about a classroom, Jesus lived his life with his disciples in community.
There were different levels of community – crowds, 72, 12 and then inner 3. The point is that Jesus did life with his follows.
In dimension important part of his life. He invited other “in” to his circle, to spend time, his life with them.
It needs to be an important part of us.
V17-19 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
Jesus never lost sight of his Fathers vision to reach out to a dark and dying world. He prayed to his Father and called a group of people to join him in that work. He spent time with his followers but also with the needy people around him. He didn’t just wait for people to come to him, went to them, taught and cared for them. His critics hated him for it.
Jesus had these three dimensions to his life. So must we as individuals and as a church. As individuals can have a specific flavour, e.g. evangelists focus more on the out, but we need all three. A church in particular need balance!
We need to be aware of challenges, as church and as individuals. E.g. churches usually strong on 2 rather than 3.
However all related – all important.
Christians when suffering highlight character of God and prayer. We need to presence of God. Those who don’t know God can sense his presence, an atmosphere.
Relationships are breaking down everywhere, people are longing for intimacy. We need to help people experience that, need to work towards it. Not just decry the lack of it but take responsibility to build it.
Most people would never come to a church meeting, therefore we have to follow Jesus example and go to them. In evangelism, introducing people to a relationship with Jesus, but also to seek to bring justice and mercy.
There is a danger of misunderstanding of out, it is not just evangelism, it includes bringing justice and mercy to a hurting world.
– based on his sermon from 22nd November
Tony Thompson is the leader of Hope Church Luton. He works full time for the church and is married to Anne and they have 2 sons.