Showing posts with label outreach. Show all posts
Showing posts with label outreach. Show all posts

12 April 2012

Small group, seven signs

The Seven Signs in John are a perfect basis for drawing people into relationship with Jesus. But they are also well worth the attention of those who already know him and walk with him every day. They are eye opening and mind expanding.

The purpose of JohnThe Seven Signs in John are a great way to investigate Jesus with people who don't yet follow him. When someone is interested enough to want to know more, rather than 'teach' them about Jesus it may be better to help them discover Jesus for themselves by reading and unwrapping the seven signs.

Briefly, in John 20:30-31, John explains that of the many signs Jesus performed, he has chosen to write down just seven 'so that you may believe'. The first two signs take place in the village of Cana in Galilee where Jesus turns water into wine (John 2:1-12), and later heals the son of a royal official (John 4:46-54). The other signs are listed by Neil Cole on the CMA Resources website. I encourage everyone to read that article and also listen to Neil speaking about the seven signs.

Clearly, these signs are written for unbelievers so that they can come to faith in Jesus and receive new life. But can these passages from the book of John be of value to those who already believe? Yes, they can. Discussing the first two signs with a group of friends who are already fully involved in church life has been an interesting experience for me.

As we discussed the passages I noticed a growing awareness of the power and depth of John's words. The four questions suggested by Neil brought this out very clearly for my friends. They quickly understood the value of using the passages to see that people are just the same today as they were 2000 years ago and that Jesus is approachable and able to help ordinary men and women. They could also see how the passages demand a response and recognized that others need to hear these accounts of the signs for themselves.

Based on this experience I would say that believers benefit from the seven signs in a variety of ways.

  • Recognising that the people in the Bible are 'just like us'. The Bible thus becomes more immediately relevant; it's no longer a book of merely historical and spiritual significance, but a book in which  the Father and the Son deal with ordinary people in very practical ways.
  • Seeing Christ himself in the pages of the Bible. Jesus, as described by John, is deeply relevant to us and to the people around us.
  • Understanding the need to get people thinking for themselves. The best approach involves reading the verses together and asking questions.
  • Viewing outreach as something we can all do. The seven signs are a very easy way to get started, either one to one or with a small group of interested people.

There is one caveat, however. There is a real danger that people who already follow Jesus may see the signs as a handy teaching technique. This misses the point. The whole idea is to encourage everyone to think for themselves. We don't need to teach people about Jesus, they will draw their own conclusions if we encourage them to read the passages and ask the right questions.

This fundamental shift in approach is something that may not come easily. But one way is to look at the way Jesus interacted with the people he met. And one way to do that is to try the seven signs for yourself, preferably as a group but if necessary on your own.

08 January 2012

Christmas lunch at Cornerstone

On 25th December Jim and some of his friends laid on a Christmas lunch for people who otherwise might have eaten alone, perhaps even spent the entire day alone.

Christmas lunch at CornerstoneCornerstone Coffee and Books provided the space, River Church funded the supplies for the meal, Jim and his family prepared and served the food, and the rest of us helped with setting up, waiting at table, chatting with the guests, and clearing up afterwards.

Quite unprompted, Waitrose provided some festive groceries for the guests to take home. Every guest also received an M&S voucher.

Paul and I arrived at 10:30. We spent some time sweeping the floor and setting out the tables (four tables with space for ten people on each). Then, as the guests started arriving we were on hand to welcome them, offer teas or coffees, and chat.

During the meal it was great to sit with the guests, pull crackers, and have some unhurried conversation.

At the end of the meal I had to hurry home as Donna's parents and brother were staying with us, but I think there were plenty of helpers on hand to assist with the washing up and tidying away.

20 December 2011

Topics

Organic Wine - [ Home | Bible | Resources | CO2 | Topics | About ]

This page attempts to track blog posts and articles grouped by topic. The lists will help you read material from multiple sources on the same theme, all focussed on the 'Organic Wine' topic of exciting change as Jesus builds his church.

A selection of words from this pageHere are some blog posts and articles grouped by topic (most recent at the top within each topic). Articles are included in more than one place when appropriate.

You can treat these as reading lists if you start at the bottom of a topic, or news updates if you start at the top. Dates of publication and blog authors are included.

Authority

Building the church



Hearing, revelation

Outreach


Problems


Spiritual outpouring


Yahweh's presence

    10 March 2011

    RESPONSE - Seven signs in John

    In his gospel, John records seven signs that Jesus gave. They were miraculous acts that made people stop, take notice, and respond. One of them (healing a person born blind) was regarded by the rabbis as a messianic miracle, something that only the Messiah would be able to do. Something they could not ignore.

    Ben and CathBen Taylor visited me for an afternoon recently, he was in the area to visit and work with Chris Duffett and I was delighted that he could find time to drop in on his way back to Somerset.

    Several times he mentioned the seven signs in John, the link leads to articles on Ben and Cath's blog where you'll find additional references to the seven signs and some examples of how they can be used to help people understand who Jesus is. I believe this is important and I encourage everyone to dig deeper for themselves.

    Last year I also wrote about healing the man born blind. As a result of this (and other messianic miracles) the religious authorities were faced with a stark choice - accept Jesus as the Messiah, or reject the plain facts.

    I'd like to go through the seven signs in John with others as and when there are opportunities. We're planning to do some Bible study in a local coffee shop and maybe this will provide some possibilities. We'll see.

    Meanwhile, a very good place to begin would be to read the CMA Resources page on the seven signs. It explains everything clearly and concisely. Also, check back on Ben and Cath's site from time to time for more examples of how they are using these signs to spark meaningful conversations and simple Bible studies with people.

    The Great Commission is to go out into the world and make disciples - and this is a great way to do just that. It's not the only way, of course, but if you're thinking, 'How do I begin?' this is a good idea to consider. Read about it, pray about it, and if the Spirit leads you to do it - go for it!

    See also: Seven signs in John - a series

    06 January 2011

    RESPONSE - Community and mission?

    Felicity Dale has just written a great post about community and mission. Do we need to become a community before we launch out in mission? What does it mean to be a 'missional community'? Is that the same thing as a communal mission?

    Felicity Dale's BlogFelicity has set me thinking and I need to respond at greater length than a blog comment will allow. If you want the context you can read her article now, or you can read my reply and then return to Felicity's article. But whatever you do make sure you read her wise contribution at some point!

    She was asked the question, 'What do you do about mission if there is very little sense of community in your group?' Her post was in response to that.

    The essential thing here is to let go of any preconceptions we may have, I can guarantee that some of them will be misconceptions. Better to clear a space in which the Holy Spirit can direct us and guide us. His job is to lead us, show us the way, encourage us, comfort us, and act as an advocate. Our job is to go and do the things he tells us. He is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Sonship, the Spirit of a sound mind.

    Can I build Yahshua's church? No! He said he would build it himself. The best I can hope to do is play with the bricks so that he has to sort out my mess before he can begin building. Better to let him do it right from the start.

    Mission - How did Jesus go about mission? He sent out his disciples in pairs and told them to go to the towns and villages. He told them to knock on the doors and, when they were made welcome, to go in, speak peace into the home, and eat with the people living there.

    Community - A pair of disciples is the smallest unit that can be regarded as church. Greater numbers are not necessarily better. You, me and Jesus - that's enough! Church is not defined by size, structure, management methods, buildings, programmes, or mission statements. It is defined as two or more people on a journey together in community with Jesus.

    The journey may be 'missional' at times - literally travelling from place to place to tell people the good news about Jesus. But much of the time it's more likely to be a journey of deepening understanding and growing depth of relationship with one another and with the Lord. If Jesus is leading us, reaching out will happen as part of that community life.

    The source - What we most urgently need to know is that mission and community both have their roots in love. In his recent book Follow, Floyd McClung writes...

    All followers and seekers of Jesus must wrestle with three simple yet profound truths. Worship. Mission. Community. They are simple, but they will affect every area of your life if you allow them to.

    He lists and defines them again several times.

    • Worship: to love and obey Jesus as a lifestyle - with passion and purpose.
    • Mission: to love those who don't follow Jesus - with courage and decency.
    • Community: to love other followers of Jesus - with intentionality and transparency.

    And later he writes...

    'Worship - Love Jesus. Mission - Love the world. Community - Love one another.

    Very simple. But building one's life on these three simple yet profound truths goes deeper than a first glance reveals. They might be simple, but they are not easy. They are approachable and touchable, but once you get close to them, they demand your whole life.

    Love is the source of mission and of community as well as being the source of worship. If there is no love there can be no meaningful mission and no meaningful community.

    But whose love? Mine? Well, yes and no. First and foremost it's the love of the Father poured out in and through the Son. And it's the love of the Son, Yahshua (Jesus) poured out sacrificially to redeem us and change us. And it's the love of the Spirit of Christ within us individually, and Christ in us communally - the hope of glory.

    We love because we were first loved. The result of love in our hearts is threefold - worship, mission, and community.

    It's not a question of mission and then community, or community and then mission. As we begin to love (and therefore worship) the One who first loved us, we will find ourselves in mission and in community too. Without love we will never get started with either of them.

    Receive his love and you will inevitably begin to love him, then you will worship and everything else will follow as we are swept along with Jesus on his journey towards deeper community and mission.

    There's a great example of this in practice on the Jesus Virus blog.

    30 December 2010

    RESPONSE - HalleluYah!

    This must have been quite a surprise for people grabbing lunch in a busy shopping mall. If you haven't already seen it I won't spoil the fun - just view the recording...



    However, I do want to respond. Things like this always produce opportunities and it's a shame if they're missed. If you'd been there what would you have said to a friend or stranger sitting nearby? All too often I can't think of anything, but this would surely have been a great opportunity.

    One person I know is good at creating opportunities of this kind and he's also good at using them effectively for life-changing conversation. Take a look at Chris Duffett's blog and read about some of his adventures in market places and malls. Dressing as an angel and handing out tea lights with 'You are Loved' written on them, using scrap doors to allow people to paint whatever they like into heart outlines.

    On the face of it these are zany things to do. But they have a way of getting under people's radar. Most of the time we live alone in a busy world. We have things to do and we don't want to interact with the vast sea of humanity that surrounds us. Try having a conversation with the person sitting or standing next to you on the London Underground and you'll soon see what I mean!

    But when something unusual happens people become more willing to communicate - temporarily. Let's not waste these opportunities to share life with others. It may not seem significant, yet these moments of contact and connection are so very precious.

    02 November 2010

    REVIEW - Chris Duffett's Blog

    I've just been put in touch with a guy called Chris Duffett. He, his wife, and their three children live in a village not far from St Neots, we plan to meet up for lunch later this month. I've just taken a look at his blog - perhaps you should too!

    Chris Duffett's BlogChris is a man with a passion for reaching others. He wants them to hear the good news about Jesus. Not only that, he also has a passion for helping other followers of Jesus do the same. This is very healthy!

    Chris founded The Light Project and was its director for eight years. His blog is refreshing and is packed with encouraging and challenging stories.

    Here's an example, Chris felt he was supposed to find and pray for someone with lower back pain. He stood at a car wash looking out for this person...

    Then I saw a young man, cool skater rags and plenty of piercings. I felt that he was the guy I should pray for.

    A few minutes later I approached him and explained that I had felt God say that I should walk to the car wash and pray for someone with lower back pain. I asked if he was ok, and to be honest because of his age and ‘coolness’ I expected him to say yep, all was AOK.

    Yet he looked stunned and said that this was ‘remarkable’ as he had been to the chiropractor for lower back pain. I asked if I could pray for his back and he said ‘yes please,’ but later as he was late for college. Non the less Phil and I said a very quick ‘non eye closing- get on your knees kind’ of prayer and asked Jesus to heal him.

    The guy looked kind of shocked and I reassured him that God knew about him and his discomfort.

    What do you think of my story? Coincidence or God?

    Coincidence? I don't think so! The blog is fun to read but will also stop you in your tracks sometimes with an unexpected challenge or revelation.

    But why take my word for any of this? Click the links and take a gander yourself. I may post again after meeting Chris and spending some time with him.

    21 June 2006

    Eaton Ford - Dragonfly and pot

    < 13th June 2006 | Index | 28th June 2006 >

    We heard about the Bromsgrove meeting, some family news, life after death, a broken pot, and a geyser.

    A dragonflyChris shared some details of the previous weekend's conference at Bromsgrove, and especially Andy White's little cards which he gives out to people when he buys them coffee or pays their parking fee. These form a point of contact, they break the British reserve and allow people to get in touch with Andy later if they want to. What a wonderful idea!

    Rachael shared some exciting news from her son Tom. He'd dreamed that he was in heaven and was greatly struck by the bright light, great joy, and a sense of purity. He'd texted the details to Rachael and then later texted her again to ask how he should go about finding forgiveness. This is just amazing! We prayed for Tom, something is clearly happening in his life!

    Di wondered if people who've died can speak to us in our dreams. Chris was sure they could not, but that there are reasons why we might think that they do. In the end this question was left open, although we noted that the Bible strongly opposes deliberate attempts to 'contact' the dead.

    Pottery bowlJohn shared a delightful illustration of the principal of our present earthly lives and future heavenly ones, told to him long ago but never forgotten. Dragonfly nymphs live under water until they pupate and finally emerge, climb a reed or stem, wait for their wings to expand and dry, and then fly off as graceful adult dragonflies.

    The story involves two dragonfly nymphs who wonder where fully grown nymphs go. They made a pact, whichever of them matured first would come back and get a message to the other one explaining what happened, where they went, and what it was like.

    Time passed until one of the nymphs was mature and nature took its course. The nymph pupated and re-emerged as an adult dragonfly. Flying above the water he was able to see his old friend below, but realised there was no way he could get a message back to the old world below the water. And his old friend below didn't even seem to be aware of him flying by above the water.

    Chris had a picture of a broken pot and said that there are two ways of mending it. The way we would try is to find the right kind of adhesive (does it need to be waterproof, withstand heat, etc), buy the adhesive and then glue the pieces back together. But in the vision the pot was not just glued back together, it was actually made new, it was turned back into an unbroken pot. Like the pot, we were broken people, but have not just been mended, we have been made totally new.

    Rachael saw a picture too, a huge, hot geyser with the water falling down; so large that droplets were landing as far as hundreds of miles away, and falling onto people and making them wet. She also saw a spiritual 'earthquake' in which a mighty slab of brilliant light collided with a slab of darkness and overcame it. There were loud and continuing earthquakes during the collision.

    < 13th June 2006 | Index | 28th June 2006 >

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