Category: questions


God snuck up on me today…

As part of the last day of The Warehouse’s Winter School for church and ministry leaders, I was leading several people through a time of personal retreat. I had challenged each of us to spend some time considering one thing God had brought to our attention over the past few days of the training – use this opportunity to go deep. I had also encouraged us to not move too quickly to “what am I going to do?” Instead, allow God to speak to who we ARE… and after that we can consider what actions this may lead to. And so we began into some time of solitude.

But then there was a tea break (not so well suited for the middle of retreats, but other participants were doing other electives. And, well. 10:30 is tea time, no matter what, right?). I was chatting briefly with a woman who is part of a local church I have good relationships with and had done a retreat for some of their team (including this woman) last year. This woman has recently taken on a new role, basically leading the team I had worked with last year. Interestingly, another person on that team had called me a while back and suggested that I apply for this job. I considered it, but decided it wasn’t the best fit for me. So this woman today says, “xxx told me she had called you and thought you might apply for the job. Why didn’t you?”

And while this could have been potentially quite awkward, I answered her straight away: “Because to do my best work, I can’t just work for one church. I need to be able to work across churches.” I love helping other people figure out how they can be who God wants them to be and I am much more of a catalyst and designer than one to run a system over time. I can create an amazing box, just don’t ask me to get in it!  It felt really good to say that. There was no apologizing or word smithing. She didn’t look down on me for not being something I am not. In fact, our conversation continued about all sorts of ministry I love and some of my questions about how to make it happen best.

So then we moved back into our time of solitude and it hit me – we just had a conversation about identity. I am a catalyst. I am an explorer. I am a designer. I am a dreamer. Yes, I am a priest – but more like Melchizedek than Aaron (that’ll need to be another blog post). What and where and how I express who I am can change – certainly has changed over time. And while the core of who I am – who God has designed me to BE has always been in there – I am continuing to discover and embrace this identity. What a journey! It’s not always easy – there is so much that works against us being our true selves. But the more I connect with this God who passionately loves me and has done everything to set me free, the more I am able to truly live.

The irony is, when I talk about how I am discovering who I really am, most people’s response is: of course! We already knew that. Why don’t you? This identity seems to be more hidden from me than anyone else. My not so secret identity.

The grand finale in a short series of questions on what God is stirring related to our faith life with others. You will find the first question of this series here, and the second one here. Please read/think/respond to these before giving your thoughts on today’s questions.

Reminder of the one rule –  you can not use the words “church” or “community” in your response (to avoid other sets of assumptions and to make you think about what you are really wanting to say!)

Question 3:

If there is something/anything of faith life with others you are longing for (your response to Question 1), something different from all of your other friendships (your response to Question 2), why haven’t you found this with an already existing congregation/community in your city? Assuming there are good groupings of people following Jesus together around town, what are you still looking for?

Note: I am not looking for anyone’s complaints about a particular church. In fact, I believe there are lots of gatherings to allow for many different expressions of our following God together. This question is really intended for those who, for whatever reason, have NOT found what they are looking for.

Another note: I am truly asking those who aren’t simply looking for somewhere with bigger music or comfortable and accommodating versions of the Gospel. I am asking those who have a DEEP desire for God and being part of a people who are centering their lives around Jesus and is honestly SEARCHING.

Please answer in only a sentence or two, don’t worry about any sort of proper or all-encompassing definition.

This is question two of a three-question series seeking input on what you are wanting with others also journeying with God. Thanks to everyone who responded to the first post on this blob, on facebook, or via email. You will find the first/previous question of this series here, pretty much necessary to answer before taking on today’s question.

Reminder of the one rule –  you can not use the words “church” or “community” in your response (to avoid other sets of assumptions and to make you think about what you are really wanting to say!)

Question 2:

How does what you are longing for (your response to Question 1) differ from all of your other friendships that also include faith? In other words, what do you need from a specific grouping of people that is different from what you are encountering from all the people you know – Christian or otherwise? Do you need something more or different?

Please answer in only a sentence or two, don’t worry about any sort of proper or all-encompassing definition.

Doing a short three-question series seeking your input. It comes from conversations from our own fledgling little On the Way group and while I need their responses, I am hoping that others who read this blog will also have their say. I am going to post three related questions and would love your thoughts on each 🙂

There is one assumption – that as we journey with God, it is helpful to be connected to others who are also journeying with God.

There is one rule – you can not use the words “church” or “community” in your response (to avoid other sets of assumptions and to make you think about what you are really wanting to say!)

 

Question 1:

Right now, what are you longing for/wanting/needing from others in a shared faith journey?

Please answer in only a sentence or two, don’t worry about any sort of proper or all-encompassing definition.

 

 

It is definitely a reality here in South Africa that Christian NGO’s are overwhelmingly female. A few of my best guesses on why this phenomenon exists:
1. Women who are called and gifted to lead in ministry are not allowed to do so by their church, so they need another venue to serve.
2. The low pay in NGO’s fits the cultural practice of paying women less than their male counterparts
3. Women find that NGO’s allow them to pursue a passion God has put on their heart. Men, too often, are also concerned with building their own little empires of significance – something the mission-focus of NGO’s tends to work against.
What do you think?
Anything you would add?

Do you think of a priest:
as someone with a specific role/position that is then responsible for certain duties ascribed to that role
or
as someone who is gifted/attuned/mandated to perform certain actions and is recognized as such
or
something else?

Why do you think what you do?

Where am I going with this?
In Christianity, if you follow Jesus, you are called a priest…

I feel a new series of posts coming on here because as I sat down to write this, my thoughts kept expanding and more and more questions came to mind. So, respond and stay tuned!

At church on Sunday, we talked about questions we would like to ask God. It’s a great list. Anyone else out there have these questions? What question would YOU add?

How did you decide who would have what kind of start in life?

Why do some people seem to have more than their share of struggles/problems?

If you are good, why can’t we explain death happening to good, young people?

Why are some people so frightened by death?

How did you decide which talents each person would receive?

God did you (God) get there/here?

Why do answers to prayer seem so random? Do you answer prayers or do we?

Does Christianity actually make sense?

What do you (God) think about women? really.

Since Jesus died and made it possible to go directly to God instead of through a priest, why is it that God doesn’t seem to speak to us audibly?

How much “control” do you have in this broken world?

Is heaven certain?

Is God all-powerful?

Why do some/all people who follow Jesus struggle so much, while so many who don’t follow Jesus seem to be doing fine/better/well?

God, which i right to say: the yolk of the egg are white OR the yolk of the egg is white? Neither – the yolk of the egg is yellow!

Because I have people in my life at all stages of faith journeys, I’ve been considering how we relate to one another’s walks. Now that a young man in our church has decided to follow Jesus, who is meant to help him? And that mom who is pretty busy all the time but would love to be a little more intentional about her faith, what about her? And the woman who comes around every now and again that is curious about religion – is she all on her own? Whose responsibility is discipleship? Who is supposed to help me, you, and others to follow Jesus?

Some would suggest it is the job of a trained/ordained priest or pastor. Or perhaps you know a “super discipler” who seems to single-handedly walk anyone and everyone close to Christlikeness? Maybe it’s you! Do you think of yourself as responsible for helping everyone become the person they were created to be? The problem in every one of these examples is that they rely on one person to do all the work. Scripture – and history – and logic! – say something different.

It is the COMMUNITY of God’s people that is responsible for making disciples. Why?

1.We need communities to make disciples because God does not hold me responsible for your growth. He DOES hold me responsible for bringing to your life what He wants me to bring. God calls us to help one another, encourage one another, etc. We are actually created to walk with one another in the journey toward forever with God. It could even be that in most cases, people are critical in one another’s salvation. But there is an individual responsibility we all must take on our own discipleship and can’t put on anyone else.

2. We need communities to make disciples because I am limited. I don’t know everything. I can’t do everything. In short, I am not God… and neither are you. I will help you know and follow Jesus, but I can’t and shouldn’t cover everything. There will be times that someone else needs to cry with you or advise you. You will want other people to also pray with you, teach you the Bible, tell you to stop doing that. Because I am limited, we all are. You and I need lots of people helping us along the way.

3. We need communities to make disciples because the goal is not making you a copy of me. The goal is you becoming the person God has designed you to be in Christ. I guarantee, if I am the only person helping you know Jesus, you will look more like me, or like me following Jesus, than YOU following Jesus. You will pray like me, serve like me, worship like me. Yuck! We need a community helping us be disciples so that we get the best from all, and don’t need to replicate any. Sure, we will model and share how we live. But we share that as an example.

4. We need communities to make disciples because I bring my gifts. You bring your gifts. I bring my experiences. You bring your experiences. We need them all. You want a teacher teaching you. You want a pastor shepherding you. You want an encourager encouraging you. That’s what I want anyway. And I am not all those things. You are not all those things. We get all things in a community of disciples.

I hope you can see that in all this, I/you must take my own discipleship seriously. How am I giving God more room in my life? Am I being a disciple myself? And very importantly, PART OF MY OWN DISCIPLESHIP IS DISCIPLING OTHERS. Did you know that? Part of being a disciple, part of learning to follow Jesus, is helping others do the same! Too often, we think we will be disciples, then reach some magic point, then we will disciple others. When does that day arrive? When I know everything? When I’ve done everything? NO! It’s now. We disciple from where we are now. God does not ask us to have all the answers. He asks us to share what we do know and He will do the rest. If you think back to people who have helped you along the Way, I suspect they were memorable because they were prayerful and faithful lovers of God. And we’ve all had many people help.

We need all of us to be living this way because of the points above. You see, in saying that a community is best suited to make disciples, it does not absolve me of responsibility. I can not therefore count on “the community/church” doing it. Why? Because there is no community without me(s) participating. Yes, we play different roles. But we ALL play roles. It is NOT the role of leadership to make disciples. It is the role of a leader to help US make disciples – setting the environment, connecting the right people, providing opportunities. I do believe we all are gifted in different ways and each of us will play different parts in the spiritual lives of one another. That’s ok – we have a community to help. Each of us needs to be asking what God would have us give to whom, and talk about that with one another to serve together.

I’ll save “what does a community making disciples together look like?” for another post. I think that it can actually differ dramatically depending on time, place, and situation. But the question I want to leave you with is: how do you see your community making disciples? What has been your experience? What has been your participation?

followers of Jesus = disciples of Jesus = being like Jesus = living the lives we were created to live

Sound good? That’s what we as the Church are meant to be about!
Are we?
(pause to reflect…. if not, why not???)

What do you consider critical to being a disciple of Jesus?

I ask because it’s one of those things we sometimes take for granted, yet it’s an essential question. And really, it’s a question we should be asking God, ourselves, and one another, right?

I find it interesting that many church-goers assume that there is some form of Biblical mandate to get together every week. Jesus never said that.  The Bible doesn’t say that.

Gather together – yes.
And do lots of other things for/with one another.
But what’s with the “every Sunday until we die” mentality?

In part, this is due to the idea of Sabbath.  God has told us that we need to rest. We need to take time to refocus on God.  Agreed! Take a day. I even support taking the same day as those you are in intentional Jesus-following relationship with (i.e. local church).

Does God say we need to all get together and sing and hear a sermon on the sabbath? NO!. I suppose that in the good old days, it made sense.  “Hey, we’re all not working this day, let’s get together.” But the world has changed, work has changed, how the week is viewed has changed. We don’t all have Sunday free. And honestly, I think that for some, what has become of Sunday is not much like the Sabbath described in the Bible. Yes, I just said that. If you are going to use the Sabbath justification, I recommend you do a little study of what the Bible says about Sabbath.

Do I think we should get together with people to help one another be like Jesus? Yes.
Do I think things can happen when we are gathered that can’t happen when we are alone? Yes.
Do I think it is helpful to have set days and times to help us actually do this? Yes.

But I think what we do is too often a matter of “that’s what we do” than what works best, or what God is asking of us. I think we need to live out our spirituality together in a way that integrates all of life, and that can’t be done in just one day. It needs to happen EVERY day. I think most would agree. Yet we still cram our “church” into Sunday…

So maybe in order to do this, we have to get the idea of “we must all get together every week on the same day” out of our heads. It’s not Biblical.  It’s not particularly effective for our discipleship. Let’s figure out what is!