A sneak Peak through the open door

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I feel very challenged and excited this morning. Tim and Brian over the past two weeks have shared something about our thinking and prayers as elders over the recent weeks. I have the task to take that further and share something of vision and strategy. The real challenge is to keep this to our normal time! I would really like to have an hour or so to talk these things through … but that opportunity is there when we meet with you in Small Groups over the next couple of weeks.
sneak pic

 

<< 1 Peter 2 : 9-17 & 21-25 >> Bible in Basic English  
9 But you are a special people, a holy nation, priests and kings, a people given up completely to God, so that you may make clear the virtues of him who took you out of the dark into the light of heaven. 10 In the past you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; then there was no mercy for you, but now mercy has been given to you.
11 My loved ones, I make this request with all my heart, that, as those for whom this world is a strange country, you will keep yourselves from the desires of the flesh which make war against the soul; 12 Being of good behaviour among the Gentiles; so that though they say now that you are evil-doers, they may see your good works and give glory to God when he comes to be their judge.
13 Keep all the laws of men because of the Lord; those of the king, who is over all, 14 And those of the rulers who are sent by him for the punishment of evil-doers and for the praise of those who do well. 15 Because it is God's pleasure that foolish and narrow-minded men may be put to shame by your good behaviour: 16 As those who are free, not using your free position as a cover for wrongdoing, but living as the servants of God; 17 Have respect for all, loving the brothers, fearing God, honouring the king.
21 This is God's purpose for you: because Jesus himself underwent punishment for you, giving you an example, so that you might go in his footsteps: 22 Who did no evil, and there was no deceit in his mouth: 23 To sharp words he gave no sharp answer; when he was undergoing pain, no angry word came from his lips; but he put himself into the hands of the judge of righteousness: 24 He took our sins on himself, giving his body to be nailed on the tree, so that we, being dead to sin, might have a new life in righteousness, and by his wounds we have been made well. 25 Because, like sheep, you had gone out of the way; but now you have come back to him who keeps watch over your souls.
SLIDE 2:
 
What I have to say this morning is not something new, nor something to take us off on a different journey from the one we have been on. Rather, my purpose is to encourage and mobilise us to move forward on the next phase of our journey together.
 
SLDE 3:
 
 I hope that you remember these points from what we have shared with you over the past few months. These are the headlines which capture our 5 year strategy as a church. The key element to every one of these elements is the words and implications they have in common. We believe that it is vital that we move forward as a community of God’s people, working and moving together. We are also convinced that the journey is one of increase, expansion and growth together, growing in numbers and in maturity.
 
Whether we think of ourselves as God’s family, His army, His people it is vital that we have in place what the NASB (Ephesians 1) calls “an administration suitable for the fullness of the times”. In other words that we have ourselves organised to develop together, to grow together and to work together.
Moses, in the wilderness, at the instruction of his father-in-law delegated leadership and care for the people to 100’s; 50’s and 10’s.
 
The Roman army was split into divisions, cohorts, centuries and troops.
The church needs a way for people to be helped week-to-week in working out what it means to be a Christian in Basildon and its surrounding areas in 2011.
The way in which we have structured this is Small Groups. 
 
SLIDE 4:
 
 The way that The Lord has been speaking to us as we embark on the next stage of this journey into 2011 is in this phrase from Revelation – “An open door, which no man is able to shut”
But, depending on your journey so far you will each have a different expectation about Small Groups, and indeed, as this slide says a different view of the dream location!
A key element of Small Groups is “Together” – this means that the Small Group that we are a part of is OURS. Although there is leadership in order to help, support, guide, Small Groups are a matter of joint ownership. What I mean is – I am not a member of Daniel and Grace’s Small Group; but I am a part of OUR Small Group, which is led by Daniel and Grace.
This can be put into a series of statements, none of which are particularly new but, are the key messages about Small Groups, so they:
·       
  •   Eat TOGETHER;
  • Pray TOGETHER;
  •  Talk TOGETHER;
  • Worship TOGETHER
  •  Have fun TOGETHER;
  • Consider what God is saying TOGETHER;
  •  Reach out TOGETHER
 
To close I just want to do 2 things:
·         Indicate some passages from the Bible to look at to help you to think about this and to reflect upon what God may be saying to you about this
·         To provide you with some questions to further help with reflection
 
Questions for Small Groups:
1.       What does your dream destination look like – either physically or spiritually?
2.       What do you especially like about what Small Groups do?
3.       What would you like to change about Small Groups?
4.       When you think about the goal of being together (whether as church or as Small Group) what stands out to you?
5.       What are your reflections on the three passages of scripture that were referred to on Sunday (I Peter 2:9; Acts 2:42-47; Revelation 22:1-5)?

 

Keith Brockbank, 18/03/2011