20 November 2018 | Røyse, Norway [Widar Ursett]
Same old same old, is clearly an outdated option.
The leadership conference held near the union offices in Norway the first week of November, and dubbed as a Total Member Involvement event, was a first of its kind in the country. New in the sense that all local church leaders, from children’s and youth departments and elders, in addition to a number of church officers and key personnel along with every pastor and leader throughout the Conferences and Union, were simultaneously collaborating on plans to empower mission on the ground where hands and feet of members make a difference on a daily basis.
In one of his songs, Bruce Springsteen proclaims, “They bring you up to do like your daddy done”. If you would forgive me the crude comparison, we would all like to be brought up to do just like Jesus did. The conference was an attempt at instilling some of that practical “to do” that marked his own approach to the Father’s mission.
To that end the 350 delegates could choose between 31 seminars as well as attend plenary sessions by Ty Gibson. There was no shortage of inspiration, practical learning and nitty gritty, down to earth planning happening.
NORUC leader, Victor Marley, who had been pushing the idea for some time, was happy to determine that the conference had invigorated local leadership, and, looking beyond the financial issues of such an event, declared that it had been an investment in the leadership of our church.
In his keynote address, Gibson emphasised that no superhero had anything on Jesus. Their forte was to utilize force and power more cunningly and ruthlessly than the villains they tangled with. Jesus had a power far greater and incomparably stronger than the might of the mighty. Read all about it in Matthew 20:25-28! I would quote, but I fear space would censure that choice.
Christ’s power was to allow mankind to heap their worst on him without ever becoming side-tracked or troubled by feelings of revenge or comeuppance. His love was not pink, romantic or gooey. It was an enduring drive to serve to the utmost until the end under cruel violence, and in so doing revealing his beloved Father to the world as he really is. By thus walking among us, he created freedom for those who would give him an ear, to choose him above anyone else because they wanted to. No one forced them or threatened them to do so. Something rose from within them to respond in kind to the Man of Golgotha, and to willingly and whole-heartedly pledge allegiance to the powerful King of Kings.
Trans-European Division Discipleship Coach, Simon Martin, admonished all who would see church growth, to “tear down” their church walls and mingle with people as though we wished them well in order to demonstrate what faith looks like. His seminar was ‘sold out’, with no chairs to spare. Perhaps he was demanding – a tall order maybe to expect us to arrange youth clubs, offer financial counsel, visit the sick …. You get the idea. Yet, it was the Saviour’s method and must be ours if we would make faith a fathomable option for those who do not know Jesus.
Two of the local church leaders from Lillehammer have their own spin on making church accessible. They adapted the concept of “Messy Church” to their own context, quite literally. Karoline Stølen and Shalini Klausen realized that children and young people growing up in the church are likely to leave unless they find it welcoming and caring. The entire church is regularly enrolled in making the “mess” happen. However, Stølen emphasizes that it is not just for the sake of doing church differently.
“The hobby activities that we plan and provide are not merely hobby activities. It is evangelism, as everything we do connects directly to the stories of the Bible,” she emphasized.
In a society where church, preaching and Bible teaching is increasingly perceived as some kind of ridiculous, religious doodah, we have the option of business as usual, or demonstrating the power of Jesus and the compassion of the Father in a language that speaks to modern people.
That just about sums it up.
tedNEWS Staff: Victor Hulbert, editor; Sajitha Forde-Ralph, associate editor
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