When Alexander Graham Bell was credited with patenting the first telephone in the end of 1800, he could probably not imagine what a phone would look like in 2018. What started as a big, clumsy thing, fastened to a wall, became a thin little something with which you can not just call someone, but also pay your bills, read newspapers, send emails and google on recipes – for example. The development of the Christian church looks, however, in quite the opposite way. What started as a mobile, organic fellowship, led by some simple disciples, became a complex, huge organisation, led by “professionals” and as hard to turn as Viking Line’s M/S Amorella.
This, in my opinion, means that when we look for the prototype of the Christian church today, we need to go back to the early church. There I see at least three things that stand out: Grace and mercy, not perfectionism, as the atmosphere of the church. The real experience of God’s power as foundation for your faith (1 Cor. 2:5). Discipleship and mentoring as a work-method in the church, not just as a nice theory, but as a way of stepping into your calling.
This really stimulates my thoughts this early February morning 🙂 What kind of thoughts stimulate you?
Jesus is very down-to-earth in His teaching in the gospels. In Matth. 13:33 He speaks about the kingdom of God, i.e. that which He came to establish among us, and says: ”The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.” What Jesus is and stands for, is like a yeast, with the purpose to saturate us and our fellowships until everything is worked through. Something comes from above, influences us and all we meet and the result is a change of culture.
These last days of December 2017, I have been reading a book by author and pastor Anders Olsson. The name of the book is “Welcome home. Building a church for those that have no church”. Anders writes about churches that are ”professional when it comes to arranging program and activities, but find it hard to make disciples and develop relationships”. He writes about the time when he and his wife were about to have their first baby – how the house had to be made more kids-friendly and safe before the arrival of the new family-member. It meant a huge change of culture. for them and their home.
During the last six months our church has gone through a major renovation. It is part of our change of culture as a church. We have renewed our café, the very center of the church, to make it more fresh, welcoming, open and hospitable. But an inner change of culture is also needed among us, in order to make us more competent to meet and welcome new people, see them integrated in the fellowship. ”We love because He first loved us”, John writes in one of his letters (1 John 4:19). The more we are saturated by the love of God, the better we can give it forward. If our inside is empty, we work and function only because we “have to” and must. And that can always be felt and seen.
As the new year 2018 begins I pray for a change of culture in myself and in all of us. I pray that we will be saturated by the love of God, over and over again. I pray that we will become good at being a church for those that do not have a church.
Many valuable things happened as a result of Pentecost and the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Christian church. There was a new boldness and a new freedom. There were breakthroughs as people were ministered to. Remarkable healings took place. And there was this: “Then Peter stood up with the Eleven…” (Acts 2:14).
Peter stood up with the rest of the disciples. He did not have to do it alone. The eleven were not simply watching him preach. They joined him. They supported him. They stood behind him. They were one in preaching, one in prayer, one in ministry.
In all honesty, this feels like the biggest of miracles. So often we stand watching (and maybe even criticizing). So often we think: “well, we’ll see how this goes”. What if we would let the Holy Spirit create togetherness and unity, corporate involvement and dedication? “Together” is our theme in September 2017. Welcome to church!
We have a training course on coaching leadership going on in the church. Last time we met, we talked about team-work. Have you ever been part of a team? I am an introvert and I like to work and be on my own, but I have also seen the power of team-work. A while ago I read somewhere that even if you have great and talented team-members, if you lack a good coach the result will not be satisfying.
A dream-team is a blessing. It is not just a means of getting work done effectively, it can be a home and a harbour when the storms in life get rough. It is a blessing to belong and it is a blessing to be needed by others. Currently, we are working with and developing three teams in the church: Number one, a team that focuses on social work, providing food and clothing for people in need every Thursday night. Number two: A music-team that is in charge of the music in the Sunday services. And number three: A kids’ ministry team that arranges good meetings for kids every Sunday morning. Welcome to join us, if you’d like!
Some people collect stamps, others LP-records from the 1960’s or veteran cars. I collect quotes. For me, words have weight and give direction for life. At the moment, my favourite quote is one by Eric Geiger: ”If you want to make everybody happy, don’t be a leader. Sell icecream”.
I like the quote because it challenges me with an important question: Am I driven by impressions coming from the outside or driven by what is inside of me? If I am driven by impressions from the outside I will anxiously ponder: Do people like me? Do they like what I stand for? What if someone is angry with me?
“All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God”, Paul writes (Rom. 8:14). Observe that he does not say: “All God’s children are driven by the Spirit of God”. It is fully possible to be a child of God and yet driven by fear, own ambitions or others’ desires. But our calling is higher than that: As a child of God I am to be led by His Spirit and His impulses. What a challenging thought!