Fragile and Foolish

foolishness notegraphyI’d dearly love to be a big success.  I’d like to make a splash and be noticed,  to make an impact.  I’ve been reminded that God probably has other plans.

Recently a number of different events have reminded me how fragile,  how small and how foolish God’s projects seem.  They can be lost,  or broken, or forgotten quite easily.  They often seem to rely on people like me or like you having good days,  remembering to take responsibility,  not being afraid to state the obvious,  sound stupid or upset a few people.

I’m encouraged that when I look at the stories of Jesus, and of the exploits of his first few followers,  things seem to have been exactly the same. Weakness,  vulnerability,  foolishness were the hallmarks of God’s movement then just as now.

Perhaps we’re more in danger when we try to be sensible or sensational than when we acknowledge frailty.  Perhaps being weak and foolish,  and yet somehow being used by God is exactly what He wants us to be.

In case you are interested,  the bible verse picture was made using Notegraphy.

Fragile and Foolish

Keeping Going

Missional Communities Blog

IMG_20150123_110245An essential part of the journey of a disciple and a leader is the point at which they realize the vision God has called them to is impossible,  it can’t be done.   Unless we allow ourselves to go through that period of disillusionment any project we develop or community we lead will be built on optimism and charisma.

“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”  John 12:24

Jesus’ words were pointing to his own death and resurrection, but they also reveal to us the pattern we should expect in following the vision God has given us.  As the missionary Hudson Taylor is reported to have said:

“There are three stages to every great work of God; first it is impossible, then it is difficult, then it is done.”*

These moments of…

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Keeping Going

Night of Prayer

We’re about to embark on another night of prayer at Kairos.  People will be gathering at different times throughout the night to worship and pray.  This is all part of our Feast Weekend, a yearly chance to celebrate what God has done this year as well as listen, discuss, and anticipate what is coming next.

I’m getting excited,  I love nights of prayer.
I like them because functionally they help move us on.  Prayer works and time praying, I am sure, will lead to breakthrough.

I like them because they echo what Christians have done for centuries,  in communities, monasteries, churches and homes,  give up sleep to spend time with Jesus.

But most of all I love them because they are fun.  The feeling when you get up in the middle of the night and are really groggy but then come into this warm, vibrant room , creative room (we do prayer nights in the 24-7 room) where others are seeking God is just brilliant.  In my experience at these times God always shows up.

So I’m getting excited.  Of course there’s also a bit of nerves and reluctance:  Will people turn up? Wouldn’t it be a better idea to stay in bed?  I’m not going to listen to those nags.  I’m going to be expectant.

As I’ve been getting the prayer room ready I’ve found myself thinking of Ps 63 a lot.
God you are my God… Earnestly I seek you… I think of you through the watches of the night…

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(picture comes from R3 on tumblr)

I’ve also found myself reminded of the prayer supposedly written by Francis Drake:  Disturb Us Lord.

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Both these prayers connect with a theme that God a seems to keep bringing up at Kairos right now:
“There’s more!”

Kairos people,  hope you come and have as much fun as I’m anticipating.
Come along any time between 8am and 8pm.

Night of Prayer

Vision and death.

I want to road test an idea.  For a number of reasons doing a lot of thinking and development around leadership and vision right now.

So, tell me what you think about this…

If Jesus calls his disciples, who are also going to become some of his key leaders, to take up their cross and follow him,  then is one of the primary purposes of vision to reveal to us the specific places where we are to lay down our lives and die,  so that he might bring resurrection.

Is that right,  half-right,  really obvious…?

Let me know your thoughts.

Vision and death.

The God Lab

Helen and I picked this book up at New Wine last year,  I think she might have gone to a seminar by the author, or we may have just liked the title and the cover (we are that shallow when it comes to books).  Anyway,  I’ve finally got round to reading it and I’m really glad we did!

The God Lab is a fresh take on the sayings of Jesus, often called the beatitudes, from Matthew 5.  Each chapter is a reflection on one saying and then a prayer-experiment based on the reflection.  Roger Bretherton is clinical psychologist and draws from that knowledge, as well as from various Christian prayer traditions, to form these exercises.

We are currently looking at the Beatitudes during our central gatherings at Kairos Church.  I’d definitely recommend this book to any Kairos people want to explore those sayings more deeply.

The God Lab

Keep Trying

I wrote a couple of days ago about our current missional community, and how great it is.

I’ve been reflecting this week about the communities we’ve been part of.   In the last ten years or so Helen have led 4 communities.  Each has lasted a few years, all of them ended;  some well,  some more painfully.

Each community had a good life,  and in each we found some brilliant collaborators, many of whom are still good friends.

Here’s the thing though,  I think each one worked a little better than the one before,  I certainly think we got better at leading them.

I know a few people who have been part of communities and have found that its got difficult, or failed in some way.  That’s normal,  these things are hard work.   What is sad though is that for some that is their only experience of belonging in, or leading a community.

That’s a great shame,  because I think you get better each time you have a go.  Which means your next community will be stronger than your last.

Perhaps you lead a church or network of missional communities. How do you help your people get back into the game after a perceived death or failure of a community?

Maybe you’ve been part of a community but have backed off since things got tough.  Is it time to get back on it and have another go?

Maybe you have no idea what all this is about,  if that’s the case you can either move on,  or check out Missional Communities UK, who will tell you about something that is a lot of fun!

Keep Trying

Imagine

Imagine has been our missional community for (almost) two years. We started it with a BBQ in October in our garden. I used our new Weber and smoke went everywhere then the sun set and it got dark much quicker than I expected so everyone stumbled around in our unfamiliar garden.

We committed to being a community that showed God’s love to young adults. We also committed to functioning like an extended family to one another.

We ate a lot, went camping a few times, set up a monthly acoustic night, spent a fair bit of time in pubs, read the bible, worshipped and prayed.

A lot of this has happened in our lounge and made it feel a bit like a holy place.

We’ve seen about 45 people be part of it. Some have left to get jobs (praise God) others are students who plug back in over the hols, others are going to carry the vision on after we have gone.

It’s been such a pleasure being part of it and leading it. We’ve loved learning with our community and seeing many of them being profoundly shaped by God as they find somewhere to belong. It’s been amazing seeing some of them discover God for the first time.

Tonight was our final BBQ with the community before we go. Actually it rained all evening so we had barbecue style food cooked inside. Then they all prayed for us as a family. One really cool thing was that for our last night there were new people who we didn’t know, just starting to connect in with what’s going on.

There is cost to being extended-family-on mission. One cost is that it hurts when God calls you to go. But it’s worth it. Being part of a missional community is so much fun!

Imagine, you are collectively and individually amazing! We Askews love you. We’ll be watching how you continue to get better and grow on your adventures with God.

Imagine