09 Jan What’s God saying to The Crown for 2015?
What’s God saying to The Crown?
We have been through a few tough, but productive years. In fact, the last 7 years have been quite tough, we are about the same size as we were then as a church, I can’t say that we have been thriving in terms of growth or people becoming followers of Jesus; and although we have the same vision we have always had to be a truly multicultural church, we know it’s in us, but week on week it seems farther away.
The main thing in our favour is that we have come through this time and we are still here – and that shouldn’t be underestimated!
Ephesians 6:13 says:
Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13)
Sometimes just standing and getting through the tough times is exactly what God requires of us.
And there are long periods of time in most people’s lives in the Bible where they just keep going following God without many “exciting” points.
And that is a godly thing – Eugene Peterson wrote a book called “A long obedience in the same direction” and he says that keeping on going following God in the mundane, everyday parts of life – getting up and going to work; handling our money right; caring for the people around us; bringing up our children; enduring through hard times and sickness; living with an attitude of forgiveness; through the easy times AND the tough times, is what godliness is made of.
So I think that God wants to say a “well done” over us as a church – for just still being here, for keeping on following Him – even through long-term sickness and loss and financial hard times and difficult work situations. It matters to Him – He has seen how we have kept going – and He is pleased.
And during these years He has been close to us and He has been teaching us more about Himself and He has been revealing His Goodness and He has been training us.
So well done Crown Church for enduring.
…But I believe that God wants to say to us that He didn’t just put us here to exist – He has put us here because He loves our city.
He delights over the many nationalities that live here
His Heart grieves over the brokenness and need around us
He cares for the poor
And so He put His Church here to make a difference.
And that’s why we are here.
I think there is a danger that all of our spare energy could go into ‘just getting through’ when actually He has made us for something else.
And although there are seasons of enduring and plodding, actually the reason God spoke and brought The Crown into existence wasn’t so we could support one another through life’s ups and downs, but it was because He really, really loves this city and He really, really cares for the lost and broken people in it.
And He is moved with compassion when He looks at the harassed, helpless, lost, shepherdless people around us. He sees the many people that have found themselves in Birmingham separated from or having lost their families; He sees people who are trapped in shame and sin, who feel completely alone and who have absolutely no idea where to turn for hope or love or forgiveness. And He hears their prayers and their cries for help.
And that’s where we come in!
I said that most of God’s People in the Bible lived most of their lives walking the long obedience in the same direction, but for most of them too, there was a critical point where they had to take a step of faith and do something new and dangerous and uncomfortable and beyond all their resources – and take God at His Word and trust that He would come through.
And the Bible defines that as faith – and it says that without it, it is impossible to please God
And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
If we are following God, then we often take steps of faith – praying for someone who’s sick; talking to our workmates about Jesus; giving away an amount of money; But actually I don’t think that we have many big, decisive faith points in our lives where we risk a lot on God coming through for us.
But I think that this year we get to face one as a church, because we have until June to buy Trinity’s church building – and the clock is ticking, and we’re still about a million pounds short of what we need!
And if we don’t get this building, we are still at a point where I think we need to be moving on, because we are too hidden where we are, and what we are doing at the moment, although it is good, isn’t reaching and serving the people who we are here for.
So we’re going to come to a point soon where we need to either stick where we are (with a few new faces and a few people leaving each year, and a few people being healed and a few prayers being answered) or we take a big step of faith and do something we are too small and weak and under-resourced to do, and trust God to make up the difference.
And the building is the obvious focal-point for this, but I also feel that this is something God is bringing us to in many ways, both individually and together as a church.
I think this is going to be a year of big faith steps – pioneering new things, stepping out in faith using the Gifts of the Spirit, saying yes to big, scary opportunities, getting well out of our depth – and seeing what God will do.
And I think that this will define what we look like as a church in 20 or 30 years time.