Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Supporting Your Evangelism

I’ve been enjoying helping out at Bures Holiday Club this week. It is a joint venture between the 2 churches, but it is largely run by the Anglican Church in the village. They are doing a really brilliant job, the children are having a ball as well as learning more about Jesus!

It’s Olympic themed this year and the teaching so far has been about being on Jesus’ ‘team’, like the disciples were. Since some of the disciples were fishermen, they were probably quite used to working as a team. I was reading this week about net fishing and how it is a team effort, taking several men to haul nets back into the boat after a catch.

Even though we are meant to be "fishers of men" I don’t think we think of evangelism as a team effort very much. We put pressure on ourselves to draw people to Christ, because we want them to share the happiness we have in our relationship with God, but perhaps we don't realise we would be more effective if we worked together.

I am really keen for people in our house groups to support one another in their evangelism, as a team. Having a little group of people around you, discussing it and praying about it regularly can keep your outreach on the straight and narrow.

Often evangelism can suffer from being either too aggressive (trying to push or manipulate people into new beliefs) or too passive (just getting to know people and hoping your faith will impact them somehow). With a team you can help each other to find that proactive middle ground - evangelism characterised by regular prayer, listening to God, respect and genuine love for those we evangelise to, and both patience and courage.

It’s a tall order – wouldn’t it be useful to have some people around you to share the challenge with?


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons (recently updated!) at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Is it okay to be ordinary?

They say in your 20s you start to realise all the things you could do with your life and everything that you could be, but then in your 30s you start to realise all the things that you’ll never be. Seems like a sad thought doesn’t it?

Well I turned 27 this month, and I wonder if that’s why I’ve started thinking about ordinariness. If I never achieve any level of fame or renown as an international speaker/Christian author/rock star or anything else for that matter, will I feel like I’ve failed? Like I squandered my potential and never really achieved anything?

Of course ‘potential’ is a biblical concept. God has given you gifts and talents, it says, make the most of them.

But potential for what? Culturally it’s very difficult for us to get away from the idea that our potential to succeed is measured in pound signs and celebrity. Who does the media see as successful? People who have ‘done well for themselves’. Tidy earners and popular stars. Slender, well-dressed people. I’m sure in times gone by, if you’d grafted hard and maybe raised a family, you’d lived a good life. But now it's about getting wealthy, having career success and being well thought of – are these the important achievements in life?

Is that the potential God sees in us? I’m fairly sure that in other cultures people’s idea of what constitutes success are quite different. I picture old, grey-haired tribal leaders in distant hot places, who are respected elders, and yet their life must surely have consisted mostly of looking after their family, and working for a harvest.

Perhaps the main difference between their culture and ours is that we have become fiercely individualistic in the West, when elsewhere (and certainly more biblically), people view their lives in terms of community.

There is no ‘If I don’t make my mark, I won’t have achieved anything’. Instead it’s ‘If I play my part, we will achieve something together’. Maybe in tribal places when they all work together they achieve good crops to sustain themselves. In the Western church when we all pull together our achievement is seeing God’s Kingdom coming to Earth. Little by little, and whatever our contribution might be, that is what is important to work towards in this life.

In that respect, a life can seem perfectly ordinary, not marked by fame or wealth or recognition, but in fact be quietly contributing to the most extraordinary and important mission there is. What are you hoping to have achieved when you reach your latter days?


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons (recently updated!) at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Enjoying Prayer Meetings??

I was greatly encouraged by our prayer meeting this last week. We joined with some members of the Anglican church and our purpose was to pray for our village. I think this is something God has asked us to do and so it’s not really a surprise when He works through it, but it’s certainly still exciting.

We spent the first 20mins in silence, listening for what God had to say and flicking through our bibles for verses that stood out to us. One of ladies later said she had been on a course recently where they had stressed the importance of being silent before God and that it had been much on her mind, so we were pleased to have done it.

After 20mins we started to share the things that had been on our minds whilst listening to God. It was amazing how many people had been led to write down or think about similar things.

One person had a picture of two hands clasped together, while another had been thinking about the disciples being sent out in twos and how God was sending the two churches out together – two messages of unity.

A couple had been thinking about the plight of the lonely in our village and how that might be addressed. One had come already with a ministry in mind for the needy in the village, which God had laid on someone’s heart recently in a dream. One mentioned how she felt God longed to spend time with each individual in the village and be involved in their lives.

Two people mentioned fruit, and two people mentioned rivers, which led us to consider some verses in Psalm 1 and Revelation 20 about being well nourished with God’s word and spirit and how that leads to regular ‘fruit’.

And three people had been thinking of the song “God is working His purpose out”! Especially the verse:

All we can do is nothing worth
unless God blessed the deed;
vainly we hope for the harvest-tide
till God gives life to the seed;

Which related to Matt 9: 37-8, a verse which had been on my mind recently and came up again in our scheduled bible reading this Sunday. If you look at my last blog you will see its relevance:

37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

After all these words from God we spent some time in open prayer, praying for the village and all these things that God had put on our hearts. A truly encouraging experience of God speaking clearly to us. We hadn’t communicated these things to each other or co-ordinated them, we simply sat in the quiet and listened and God confirmed His messages through 2 or 3 people hearing the same things.

This has happened at our last few prayer meetings too, it’s not a rare occurrence. If you listen to God He will speak to you. As Liz said to me the other day “I actually look forward to our prayer meetings!” and so do I – it’s exciting to hear from God and to know He is ‘working His purposes out’ with us!


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

When Small Churches Get Thin on the Ground

What is going on at Bures Baptist Church? I ask myself as I sit down to write another blog.

I’d love to be able to fill it with stories of all the small miracles that happen in the life of an active church every week. I’d love to share with you all the little details and answers to prayers, but frankly, mostly all I’ve talked about this week is babies, and the ways in which our prayers have been answered, well, I’ve been too sick to notice!

But it’s not necessarily an easy time in the church all round. Over the last few months a lot of our church members and helpers have been away or out of action, for short or long periods, sometimes once, sometimes repeatedly. Some have simply gotten a bit worn down, others have had changes in their day job, various different reasons.

I’m not talking about any one person in particular, but across the board, circumstances seem to have conspired to make our ministries a little difficult to manage/staff recently.

As a small church perhaps already punching above its weight with its contribution to the community, it can be a struggle. I hate to see people weighed down by their responsibilities, unable to get a break because we simply don’t have the back up. It’s not fair, and yet as a church God seems to have given us a lot of work to do.

We spoke this morning at assembly about how when life gets hard it’s easy to think God is being unfair to us. But actually we know that God is always just and if we look out for it we can still see the good things He is doing for us.

So we take heart and we find ourselves praying for God to ‘send more workers into the harvest field’, and to give rest to the weary, as the bible tells us He will.

A small church must still let God’s people get out and do the things they feel are right, it can’t be constantly hauling them in for meetings or refusing to let them move on in their journey.

But ‘sending out’ (however biblical) can be painful when your numbers are few, and it can feel a lot more like ‘letting go’. So please pray for us to have grace in times when we are short staffed, to courageously prioritise rest for our members and attendees and to be able to sustain our ministries where God is calling us to. Thanks.


Interested in more?
Check out some of our Sunday sermons at: http://www.buresbaptistchurch.org/sermon_catchup.php