Dan Hetherington reflects on what God is doing in Step Up, the discipleship year we run with a number of other churches. You can find out more about Step-Up here.
The original plan for Step Up was quite different to what currently have. The thoughts when starting out was to fill churches in the area with young interns who would help to go out and plant seeds, develop vision and infuse congregations. In fact I was given a brief in my first year to research internship schemes with the plan on developing a year out option for the northern half of the then diocese of Ripon and Leeds.’
Even after the first year, and only having people ‘half-time’, we struggled to hear God, and continued pressing into the initial thoughts and plans for the scheme. It took until the end of the second year, after trying to run with a full-time and part-time balancing act, with disastrous recruiting, and appointments made for the full-time internship positions. Halfway through the year we saw more mature people who had decided to make the journey really start to grow, and this started to turn heads. The Management Team were really encouraged to see that even though this was not what we had planned, God was using us.
LIGHTBULB MOMENT: God wanted us to be discipling people in their context, not trying to take them away from where he had placed them, and bring them to Harrogate.
From that point we have worked solely to the brief that Jesus gave the apostles: “go make disciples.” We believe that this is what God is wanting us to do in and through Step Up, and since following through on this conviction we have seen steady and continued growth.
One of our early Council of Reference Members
decided to step down because they thought that Step Up had no future. When they did that, I would be lying if I said I didn’t also feel that it was not working and that what we were trying to do (offer an internship scheme similar to those offered by churches serving universities, without any of the churches in our area actually having a university) was just not the right thing.
Thankfully God stood by our intentions. We needed to allow Him to change our hearts away from a scheme that could benefit the churches involved in the short term, toward a scheme that would benefit his people and his kingdom in the long term. Discipleship is what it’s all about!
It’s also interesting reflecting on the need to go where we find the peace. We tried for years to ‘push’ step up, to get people and churches involved. But there was little peace there. When we changed the approach, and went fishing, it was amazing that in the space of a day or so, we had our first real bite. We invited people in, and let them have the opportunity to ‘suck it and see’. And it’s amazing what God has done.
This year we have 3 hubs, 5 weekly groups, 42 participants, and a growing team of people who are able to disciple and mentor others in an effective way – all this by the Grace of God.
What’s my lesson in all this? Don’t let the devil pull the wool over your eyes. It’s fine to have dreams of what things could be, or even what you want them to be, but these need to be grounded in what God’s overriding vision is. Jesus told his disciples
to throw the net over the other side of the boat, and they caught fish galore. We need to be prepared to do the same thing, to change approach when we feel God’s prompting. Happy Fishing!
Psalm 29 is one I keep coming back to again and again. It’s all about how when God speaks, stuff happens, and mighty stuff at that.
Here is a list of things this Psalm says happen when the voice of the Lord speaks…
– His voice echoes above the sea
– His voice is powerful and majestic
– His voice splits and shatters the mighty cedars
– His voice strikes with bolts of lightning
– His voice makes the barren wilderness shake and quake
– His voice twists mighty oaks and strips the forests bare
This is powerful stuff! Whatever authority we feel we have (or don’t have!) when we speak, at work, with our kids, leading our MSC, in our community etc, that really dims in comparison to the authority and power that God’s voice has. God’s voice spoke creation into being!
This encourages me when I think about the difficult or impossible situations I face, and makes me even more desperate to hear the voice of the one who can achieve so much more when He speaks than I ever could. I want to hear the encouragements, promises and challenges from the Lord that will transform my life and the situations I find myself in, to make the wilderness shake, to split, twist and shatter the things that look immovable from my perspective. How about you?
Jesus quotes a verse from Deuteronomy when He is being tempted by the devil in the wilderness: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Deut 8:3) He later says that we are His sheep and the sheep know the Shepherd’s voice. One of the things I most often come back to in my walk with the Lord is a desire to hear Him speaking more clearly. I once heard someone say that it’s not the case that God isn’t speaking to us, it’s a matter of us learning to listen. That’s an important perspective shift. Jesus’ promise is that we sheep will hear His voice, we don’t need to persuade or plead with Him to speak. I am trying to get better at ‘tuning in’ to Him.
As we come towards the end of August, lets keep regularly coming back to listening to what the Lord wants to do for us, in us and through us. His voice is powerful beyond all others and is the voice we need to hear louder than any other voice, so it’s worth stopping to hear Him! I know in my life when I’ve done that – even just taking 5 minutes in a quiet(ish!) place in the middle of the day – then I’ve seen situations change, sometimes quite remarkably, and it’s so much easier that way than trying to force something by myself.
Let’s be a people who are known for listening to the Lord, hearing Him speak and then acting on it – what a privilege to be able to do that!
If you have any senses of what the Lord is saying to you for Kairos, our MSCs or things we can all be praying into for Harrogate do let us know.
If you missed David speaking on Sunday about financial capital, or want to listen to it again, then you can do here. There is also a link to the Prezi he used below, for those of you who want to see this.
Over the past month or so the news has been dominated by the Greece financial crisis. All this is a direct result of the worldwide financial crash of a few years ago. Finance and investment is a big deal for the whole world right now. The financial crisis has made us all more focused on getting value for money.
Whether we realize it or not, we are constantly thinking about
- How to invest our time
- Which relationships to invest in
- How to invest our money
So we need to be asking:
“What does our investment look like from a ‘kingdom of God’ perspective?”
Over the last five Central Gatherings we have been talking about the ‘Five Capitals’:
Spiritual, Relational, Physical, Intellectual; Today we are looking at the last of the five capitals: How will we invest our financial resources in pursuing the Kingdom of God?
What is God saying to you & what are you going to do about it?
Jesus taught his disciples how to invest their time, energy, and money for a bigger return than just financial reward.
The Gospels are filled with parables and conversations around money, capital and investment.
In Matthew 13 we are given five parables about the ‘Kingdom of God’.
These parables show us that we need to sow, to search for and to sift out the Kingdom. There is work involved. They show us we need to invest in the Kingdom of God.
The good news that Jesus announced was that the true wealth of a life with God in his kingdom was now available to everyone. And you do not need to be rich to obtain it. It’s like a treasure a man found in a field, Jesus said. In his joy, he sold everything he had and bought the field! Or it’s like the merchant when he found a fine pearl he went away and sold everything and brought it. Do you realise that it is well worth trading the temporal for the eternal? It’s a much better investment.
It’s said that, Martin Luther, the man who began the Protestant movement, stressed these three types of conversions: conversion of the head, conversion of the heart, and conversion of the wallet.
Jesus talked about money quite a bit. He talked about how we could turn it into an idol, if we are relying on it for significance or security. But he also affirmed that it’s simply a form of capital that allows us to invest in other capitals that are worth more.
When did you last asses you finances in the light of your giving and investment in God’s kingdom?
Every year we should be doing a financial audit.
Ask yourself what am I investing in financially?
Often this will reveal to you what you see as important.
Now read Matthew 6 v 19-21.
The money image is by Lawrence Lew on Flickr
Intellectual Capital is not just about how clever we are.
It’s basically every skill, idea, wisdom, bit of knowledge and creativity we have, and God can and wants to use that to bless ourselves and others, and he wants to multiply that for the growth of His Kingdom in Harrogate and beyond.
Many of you are already investing your intellectual capital as a basis for your community – Resurrection Bikes and Stuffers for example – keep going with that! Some of you may want to increase your intellectual capital in order to be able to better invest. Carl & Georgie for example had to find out all sorts of things about homelessness in Harrogate, what services were already available etc as they started Lifeline. Now they are using that knowledge to help others and see the Kingdom come. It can be useful to think about using what we know or what we’re good at in order to build further relationships with people. For example I am using what I know about teaching music in our kids’ school, in order to build relationships and bless them.
Remember – intellectual capital is not given or to be used so that we feel clever or smug. 1 Corinthians 8:1-2 “Knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much.”
Jesus wants us to learn His way of life, His gentle and humble way (Matthew 11:25-29). Are we still turning to Jesus to find out the best way to live life since He is the most brilliant person who has ever walked the earth? And are we helping those in our MSCs and around us to learn from Jesus too, or do we more often offer ‘popular’ wisdom which isn’t always the same as God’s wisdom?
Have a great week everyone.
To hear more about how to grow and invest intellectual capital you can listen to Helen’s sermon here. You can also find all our sermons and posts about the 5 capitals here.
The Intellectual Capital image was made using notegraphy.
Last Sunday, Helen spoke on using our intellectual capital for the good of the Kingdom. If you missed it, or want to hear it again, you can listen to it here.
We had a couple of problems with the recording on the day so there is a short bit of the talk missing in the middle.