The Importance Of Balance

IMAGE Whats On 3 legged stool

– 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.

 

Tony

– based on his sermon from 22nd November

 

tonyt

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.

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The Life You Never Expected

Theresa Middleton reviews Andrew & Rachel Wilson’s book on thriving while parenting special needs children.

This book written out of the Wilson’s current and recent experiences of bringing up two children with severe autism is a must read.   It is a very real, honest practical book with gems of biblically sound insight in many chapters. Although helpful to those facing similar challenges,  I feel it would be helpful to anyone  struggling with unexpected difficult circumstances,  or in fact helpful for anyone!

The chapters – some written by Andrew,  some by Rachel – are short and able to be read alone, making it easy to pick up and put down. Some of my favourite chapters were: Children as a blessing, Thankfulness in a world of entitlement ( life changing ), Daydreaming about eternity and Reflections on healing.  I could go on, there were so many great nuggets of treasure.

I really enjoyed this book.  Some things it taught me were: God is enough, to go back to His promises whatever our circumstances, and that there is always something to be thankful for.  I am sure I will find more as I plan to read through this book again. Hope you enjoy it too.

Buy ‘The Life You Never Expected’ On Amazon

 

Theresa is leader of Open House and the pastoral team at Hope Church
Theresa is leader of Open House and the pastoral team at Hope Church

 

 

A Place That Feels Safe

When I returned from a few years working overseas, I was expecting to start teaching again in a British school.  But God had other plans and now I find myself working with the Asian community in this great town!

This work has largely been centred around a centre in an area of Luton with a very significant number of Pakistani and some Bengali residents.   Women and children come there for all sorts of reasons – for advice, help with filling in forms, to learn English or just to drink tea and have a chat.

There is also an opportunity for an informal kind of counselling.   Some of the women have been, or are currently, victims of some form of abuse.  Others have just moved away from their family overseas to marry a relative who they barely know.  They are lonely and struggling to learn a new language and culture.  Some have difficulties with their children, understanding how to bring them up in a background so different to their own, struggling to communicate with teachers at school and to relate to older children who are ‘British’ while they are still very ‘Asian’.

Above all, God has given me a love for children from these backgrounds.  I help to lead a high school girls’ homework/activity group on a Saturday morning.  Some of these girls feel pressures from being between two cultures, sometimes having to conform to certain rules while trying to develop their own independence.  And of course they have the kind of issues in their lives that all teenagers face. We hope to provide an opportunity for them to be themselves, to make friendships outside of school and develop new skills.

I have personally found one of the best ways to support the needs of these lovely ladies has been to spend time with them in their homes.  A while ago I felt led to pray for five particular women that God had placed on my heart.  I found that my opportunities to reach out to them gradually increased and I have been able to support them in a number of practical ways or through listening and praying.    In general some of these things seem small and insignificant – but I guess that great things comes from small, insignificant things so I am going to continue to pray in faith!

 

Shirley

To Welcome Them In Or Send Them Back?

Is The Wrong Question…

Photo Boat

One migrant I met recently had flown in from an eastern European E.U. country a few days earlier.  He showed me his one way plane ticket.  He had no money, almost no English, nowhere to stay, no plan and no friends in the UK except for a sister up north (but he didn’t know her contact info), no food, no drink, no trade and no job to go to.

 

For a few weeks he visited the community centre where I work. My attempts to be of help to him kept going round in circles….

 

Efforts to connect him with his sister via Facebook stalled when I realised via Google translate that he had fallen out with her and didn’t really want to see her.

 

He asked me to get him in touch with particular homeless organisations, but insisted I contact the ones I knew couldn’t help him. Eventually I realised the best way to help him was to go to the town hall. But when we arrived he didn’t really want to queue.  When we established they couldn’t help, I pointed him in the direction of a night shelter down the road that I knew could help, but he was cross & pushy when I said I couldn’t go with him.  It felt like he wanted me to do it all for him, that he only really wanted me to help in the exact way he wanted – normally food or cash.

 

The more food handouts I gave him the more often he returned demanding even more. He was always wanting something else, when he got it, he didn’t come across as grateful but disappointed that I hadn’t given him even more. He could be unpleasantly insistent in getting his way. If it wasn’t convenient to let him in I would have to stand in the doorway to stop him walking straight in – ‘No’ didn’t work. He rarely left the building willingly, I normally had to insist, sometimes with great firmness.  Some female volunteers did not feel safe around him, then a mobile phone went missing, and I suspect he nicked it. I ended up not really wanting to even open the door to him.

 

I concluded he was foolish in coming to the UK so unprepared, felt the law was an ass for permitting such stupidity, and thought the best way to help him would be to pay his air fare back home. But I knew that was not the help he wanted.

 

On Reflection…

He was hard to help – almost impossible – it was like trying to parent a tyrannical toddler or a troublesome teenager.  Truly helping him – sending him back home in my view – would have looked very different to many people’s idea of helping migrants.

 

This Experience Taught Me…

We should not insist there is only one right, moral way of helping migrants, or condemn people or countries who have an opposite view to ourselves.

 

The question we should be asking is not ‘do we welcome them in or send them back home?’, nor is it ‘do we send clothes to Calais or erect fences to keep them out?’ and nor is it ‘do we grant asylum only to refugees in camps near Syria’s border or all of Europe?’

 

The real question to ask yourself is ‘Do I Have Compassion For Them?’, and definitely not  ‘Do they deserve it?’ – often they won’t!

 

My migrant friend was like a child. We were all children once.  Parents don’t ask ‘Does my child deserve compassion?’, they know that’s a stupid question – often children don’t. When you first turn to God, He already knows you don’t deserve His compassion, but like a Father with a wayward child he gives it anyway because, as He said to Moses in the Bible  ‘I will have compassion on whom I have compassion’ (Exodus 33).

 

Our job is to have compassion on all migrants – economic or genuine asylum seekers – out of this the right actions will flow.

 

 

Dean

 

Dean is Office Manager at Hope Church Luton, married with two children.
Dean Fryer-Saxby is Office Manager at Hope Church Luton, married with two children.