Saturday, September 9, 2017

Waiting on the World to Change

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What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for an invitation to change the world?

Picture a middle-aged man, sitting by the river, watching the water flow on by. He makes himself comfortable on that wooden seat just metres from the edge. He sees someone fishing in the distance. He’s Thinking. Praying. Watching. Waiting.

The longer he sits there, the more he considers the brokenness of the society in which he lives. The longer he ponders, he is reminded of the violent partner and the selfish teenager and the rude shop assistant, not to mention the fragile pensioner who can’t make ends meet and the politician who doesn’t seem to give a stuff.

As the water laps up onto the edge of the river bank, he can’t help but be worried for the next generation and how they’ll fare in such a community.

‘Will they show the love and respect our generation did?’He thinks to himself.

The river is captivating in its simplicity. Water flowing from left to right. The sound of the birds chirping grabs his attention. He smells the dampness of the grass and feels a gentle breeze pass his face. He sits and he waits.

But what is he waiting for? Is he waiting for someone to tap him on the shoulder and tell him to get up off the park bench and go and do something? Is he thinking that the burden of responsibility lies in someone else’s court? Is he naive and expecting that the societal issues that surround him will simply disappear? Has he convinced himself if he prays enough on that riverbed that somehow God might miraculously put everything back into place?

I think he’s unwittingly chosen to absolve himself from doing anything that will help. Maybe not intentionally. I don’t think he’s sitting by that riverbed purposefully being spiteful or angry about how the world’s fairing. I just think he’s given up. He’s served the Lord over the years. He’s enjoyed some highs and endured the lows, but this next season, well, that’s for someone else.

On his down days this man is sitting by the river reciting Psalm 137, ‘By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.’ He’s thinking about the ‘good ole days’ when life was simpler, and less demanding; the days when facebook didn’t beep every minute and people didn’t expect you to respond to them 10pm at night. Life was less rushed. Life was a little less hectic. As he skims a rock across the flowing water, it disappears with a little plonk. He stops thinking about the good old days, because he starts to remember, there were struggles then too.

So, what will this man do? How long will he sit and ponder anew? How long will he build a list in his mind of all the problems? How long will he envisage a world in ruins, a world in need of a Saviour. How long?

What is he waiting for? Is he waiting for the world to simply change?

Friday, September 1, 2017

Why is the Same-Sex Marriage Debate so Divisive?

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Ever since Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that the Coalition would implement a postal vote on same-sex marriage social media has been in melt down.

Bill Shorten would have preferred a free vote in the House of Representatives.

I'm finding less and less videos of cats falling over balls of wool. My Facebook feed just isn't the same. Jimmy Fallon, why can I not watch another video of you lip-syncing?

Some of us hope, we'll wake up one morning very soon, and every politician in the land will have discovered they are dual citizens.

What a shame. Start again. 

I have been wondering for some days why changing the Marriage Act is so divisive? Why does any discussion on marriage equality seemingly bring out the worst in people?

If you agree with my line of thought that this debate has already been ugly at times, then read on. If you've been living in an alternate universe in recent days, then please, relax, switch off the internet and continue to watch West Wing reruns. 

Why is the same sex marriage debate so divisive?

  1. Issues of freedom, marriage, human sexuality, same-sex attraction, human rights and faith are all topics that evoke great emotion. We all have stories of hurt and pain, of isolation, of rejection, of misunderstanding and of a desire for people to connect with us and what we believe. Allowing same-sex couples to marry by redefining the Marriage Act speaks into each of these topics. It's like combining all the most emotive topics we can conjure up in society today and wrapping them around one issue. It's bound to be charged with passion. We're legislating about people's lives.
  2. We struggle to have civil debate. Some argue whether we should even have a debate, I mean, we're talking about people's lives here. We're talking so abruptly about the livelihood of others, and we forget real people are involved. We don't know how to disagree nicely anymore. I would love to hear the words, 'I respectfully disagree...' I won't tell you the other words I hear.

    Something has fundamentally shifted in Australian culture over the last decade. We've always been a very multicultural, easy-going kind of country, but in my lifetime at least, I don't think we've ever been so divided. The right have gone further right, and the left have gone further left, and the middle have shut up. So can we learn to have a civil conversation in the current atmosphere? I mean, can I say, 'I don't believe in that opinion, but I don't think you're a bigot, a homophobe, a racist or a left-leaning looney'? Someone just got offended. I'm trying to make a point. I'm not arguing for or against same-sex marriage in this post. I'm saying that, can we at least get to a point where we have respectful, intelligent conversations about issues without pulling out the 'I'm going to shut this conversation down because I don't agree with you' card.
     
  3. We don't think through what we say. We're lazy and dumb. We've become dumb because we're lazy. Instead of intellectually thinking through our arguments, we simply name call. It's easy. It's lazy and it's dumb, but it's easy. Did I spell dumbe right? Take for instance a conversation I was reading recently. Someone said (and I paraphrase), 'Well, I don't agree with how you have interpreted the Scriptures! You have simply made it say what you want it to say! You can't do that with Scripture! You can't simply cherry pick what you believe and share it with others. By the way, the Scripture I have picked out to strengthen my interpretation of the Scripture is... ' See what happened there? Take for instance, someone articulates a mildly informed response to the same-sex marriage discussion. Someone responds with, you guessed it, a counter-argument response with respect and grace. No. They just call the person, '*^%@#&*' - you choose the word. That's just lazy. Posters are lazy. Name calling is lazy and spiteful. Think through what was said, and provide a response with at least some measure of grace and intellect.

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    My Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/petebrookshaw
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  4. We are hypocrites. Let me give you an example from the Family Violence archives. Think on this for a moment. Someone jumps on Facebook and outlines how appalled they are (and rightly so), of a man who has just beat-up their partner. The next line is where the hypocrisy starts... 'And if I ever see that man, I'm going to .... etc, etc.' Wait a minute?! You've just said that you are absolutely disgusted at the way someone else was treated and now you want to enact that same kind of violence on someone else?

    We can't say love is all inclusive, if it excludes; that's hypocrisy. You can't say that someone has the right to be loved unconditionally, and then berate the person you're talking to about that very point. That holds true for both the left and the right. We just need to be careful, lest we become hypocrites.
  5. We live in a fast paced society. We want everything now. We want everyone to agree with us, now. We're frustrated when someone doesn't immediately align themselves with our way of thinking. We should remember the words of James (1:19), 'My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.' My wife thinks I should live this out more. Australian society would do well to adhere to the words of James. Thanks James. You probably learnt that from Jesus.

Social media and the media at large (see ABC's extensive writing about same-sex marriage) amplifies the nut-cases on both extremes of the same-sex marriage argument, and any attempt at a civil conversation is lost amidst the noise of the extreme right and extreme left.

But, we need not always be so divided. We can do some things about it:

Have your vote.

Respect each and every person's right to have their vote.

Make your case known with respect.

Remember that the person you are speaking with deserves the same respect you do.

That being said. I'm signing off. I vowed I would never post a blog about marriage equality.

I still don't know whether I should post this.

My heart is very divided.

* These views are the personal views of the writer, and do not necessarily represent the views of The Salvation Army or other views expressed in the links provided. 


Friday, July 21, 2017

You Can't Run From God - Video Post

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You can't run from God. I mean you can try, but God's always going to be calling you back to himself.

God is always going to be with you on the journey. Be inspired to do what God requires of you and if you don't have an inkling of what that is, then start with this: Show mercy, act justly and walk humbly with God.

If this video inspires you, then please share it around. God bless.

Pete.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

10 Reasons Why People Don't Go To Church

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10 Reasons Why People Don't Go To Church

The church growth data is pretty clear. The Western church is struggling.
The 2016 Census data in Australia shows that only 6% of Australians go to church at least once a month. The new data also show a sharp increase in the number of people (29%+) who identify with 'no religion' on their census report. Similar trends can be seen across the Western world, showing people for the most part, are less inclined to be inspired by attending church or the Sunday mass at the Catholic church. Is church growth happening? We can say, in the West, the church is definitely in decline. There are pockets of growth, but the established church continues to be in dire straits.

Let me explain some things before I go further. Let's firstly define the meaning of the word church. The word church is used three times in the New Testament (Grk: ecclesia), and is not referring to a building in which people frequent once a week, typically on a Sunday. The church is a group of individuals who gather together (where ever, and when ever), to worship God, grow in their faith in Christ and partner with God in mission. When I refer to why people don't go to church, I think most people might think of why people don't enter a church building on a Sunday morning, but I don't think the following points are limited to just that. With a correct view of what the 'church' is, this post should possibly be, '10 reasons why people are not part of a church community'.
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See also: 10 Reasons Why People Don't Believe in God
8 Reasons Why Churches Don't Grow
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One further point is that I think the church is important. The church is God's primary vehicle for transforming the world. God chooses to allow us to partner with the Creator in life transforming mission. The believers gather together regularly to be empowered by God, and through their faith in Christ, others are drawn to discover God themselves, because of the inner working of God in that believer's life. 

That being said, let's explore the reasons why less people are attending church today and whether there is validity in such reasons.

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10 REASONS WHY PEOPLE DON'T GO TO CHURCH

Reason 1 - Why people don't go to church - The perception of Christians is one of judgment and negativity.

One young lady said once, I don't like working in the cafe on a Sunday, because that's the day the Christians come in. What was the issue? The issue was, the Christians constantly complained, weren't happy with the food, and we're generally tough customers to deal with. Is this is a valid observation of all Christians? Well, no, not of all Christians, but this young lady's observation of the Christians she saw in her cafe was valid They were judgmental and negative.

Reason 2 - Why people don't go to church - Church is boring.

For many church communities, the assertion is probably correct. Though, you could argue, since when was the church meant to be entertaining? The church has changed dramatically over the years, and there are many great churches, with relevant music, relevant preaching, welcoming people and the like. The issue is probably again the perception that people have of the church. Trying to convince people in my part of the world, that the church is an exciting, welcoming place, where lives are transformed, is hard for people to grasp. They have built up negative perceptions of the church. 
Now, if your ecclesial structure is based around common interests, hospitality, craft, tools and handiwork, etc, and less about a one hour time slot of entertainment, then maybe one may be more inclined to be interested. 


Reason 3 - Why people don't go to church - The church is exclusive.

I always say, the church has an exclusive message, which is available to anyone. There is undoubtedly a tension between a message that is for everyone (inclusive), but the message itself being exclusive. This will never change. Jesus offers salvation for the world. What must change is the Christian's communication of such an inclusive/exclusive message. Bible bashing simply gives people headaches.
The church would do well to stop acting like a country club that only welcomes visitors if they fit their unsaid rules of participation.

Reason 4 - Why people don't go to church - Christians are homophobic.

Maybe we are, maybe we aren't. Nonetheless this is one factor on why people don't go to church. I believe that some Christians who have taken a conservative approach to homosexuality, have quite often failed to show grace in expressing their differing views to those around them. The disturbing pictures of fundamentalist Christians holding up their placards does not do the message of hope found in Christ any favours. The tension for the church today is balancing truth and grace. The church struggles in defining the former and living out the later. 

Reason 5 - Why people don't go to church - 'I don't like organized religion'.

People are not advocating that the church not be 'organized', that is, that the filing cabinet not be sorted out, the money not banked properly. The issue here is that those who don't go to church hate to see an abuse of power. I write about five sources of power here, one of which is coercive power. The abuse of power has been too prevalent at times, especially when you consider church history, but I must say, how much of this coercive abuse of power was under the guise of Christianity, but was not real Christianity? Nonetheless, organized religion turns people away. 

It is a difficult one. You have organizational systems that mature over time, where processes develop, and policies and procedures are enacted. Take for example The Salvation Army. When it began it did not seek to have a bureaucratic system, but then someone came along and said, 'We want The Salvation Army to do our wedding'. So The Salvation Army applies to the Government for approval. Then, there is money flowing in from donations. The Salvation Army opens a bank account, employs an accountant, and needs an auditor to look over the finances. I think you get the point. The 'organizing' of the organisation was important and essential to good governance. I don't think this is why people don't go to church. I think it's that organized religion is related to the abuse of power by a small minority of individuals, rather than the mere organizing of a faith community.

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Also: Why Australians Don't Go To Church 
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Reason 6 - Why people don't go to church - Churches are full of hypocrites

Yes. The church is full of hypocrites. I am a hypocrite. But with all due respect, you are a hypocrite too. We all say one thing and do another at times. The great thing about the gospel message is that a whole bunch of hypocrites can gather together and find purpose, hope and forgiveness in Jesus! 

Reason 7 - Why people don't go to church - The church just want your money.

When you go to a church that talks more about its offering, than the Word of God, then the point is no doubt very valid. I think the church at times finds itself concerned about its financial situation and thus challenges people (maybe too much?) about giving. Leaders in the church would do well to pray more and trust God will provide. I am not saying, Christians should not be challenged to give generously to the local church, but what I am saying is that as we pray God will provide the finances we need. Money follows mission.

I heard recently that the financial situation in the U.S.A., shows more people are on lower incomes and unemployed than years before, and this has affected the income of churches across the States. A new outlook of faith and trust in God's provision is needed and a greater focus on volunteerism rather than employment of 'professionals' is needed. The emerging church would suggest on taking a look at creative ways to be the church, that do not include such an enormous outlay of capital.

Some may say they don't go to church because the church just wants its money. I do wonder though, how many are feeling a level of conviction about the importance they place on their own finances?

Reason 8 - Why people don't go to church - Life is better without religion.

The perception is that life will be worse with religion than without it. Though I have issues with the word religion. I know that technically it relates to faith communities, but the word is so wrapped up in cultural perceptions, that I prefer not to even use the word. I don't care much about religion, in the negative sense, but rather a relationship with God.

Reason 9 - Why people don't go to church - Christians live on another planet and wear brown sweaters.

The Simpsons have done well to characterise Christians, haven't they? Some churches are like the modern day Amish, but other churches are just normal, everyday people who love God. No doubt if you look to the education system, for example, you will see some schools who are behind the times, and others who are pushing new ground, and are forging ahead. You look at big business, you see some that are fledgling and others that are booming with relevant products and up-to-date systems. The church is no different. Unfortunately the media like to pinpoint the most flawed church in the country and then flaunt it like it characterises every church in that country.

Don't let one brown sweater put you off. 

By the way, mine is still in the wash...

Reason 10 - Why people don't go to church - Don't have time.

This is really a priority issue but a valid reason nonetheless. People are flat-out today, trying to tie off lose ends, and get the house clean and take their kids to sport. Why bother with going to church?

All I can say here, is that if you had a different perception of the amazing nature of the God who created you, you would very quickly find ways to reorganize your priorities around such a wonderful God.
Conversely, you could argue the church should do more to deal with its obsession with Christendom styles of church governance, and look at establishing faith communities within the established fabric of society. You will always have time to be the church, if your expressions of faith are genuinely embedded in the every day life of the people.


Add your voice below. Why do people not go to church?

    Thursday, July 13, 2017

    A Free Copy of Alan Hirsch's new Book 5Q is up for Grabs!

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    Alan Hirsch has been working for systemic change in the church for many years now. As a Youth Pastor some 15 years ago, I remember being in awe of reading The Shaping of Things to Come (co-authored with Mike Frost), and being impacted by its commitment to challenging the fundamental nature of who we are as a church. I was a new Christian back then, passionate for Jesus, sold out to the mission of the local church and with a deep desire to serve in any which way possible. There was a short period when Kim Hammond from the then FORGE network was inspiring my wife Jo and I with what it meant to be missional leaders. They were impressionable days and I remember being thrust out of my comfort zone into a new way of acting and thinking.

    Fast forward to 2017, and I'm leading a great church in Craigieburn (Victoria, Australia), as an officer in The Salvation Army, but still find myself wrestling on how to lead, minister and create lasting change for the sake of the Kingdom of God in my local context. I devoured The Forgotten Ways (2006) and Alan Hirsch's book with Dave Ferguson, On the Verge (2011).

    [The real book is always better than a Book Review! Keep reading for an opportunity to grab a hold of a new copy of Alan Hirsch's 5Q.]

    How to inspire, teach, empower and challenge a group of Jesus-followers to make a change in the world still keeps me up at night.

    Alan Hirsch is a prophetic voice to the church. His new book 5Q: Reactivating the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ, helps me sleep better at night. I say that, because over the years I've witnessed the church shift in the way it operates. Evangelists are sidelined, pastors/shepherds are celebrated and apostles are put in the too-radical-basket. Teachers are put on pedestals, but prophets only dare to speak a 'word in season'. Hirsch speaks directly into that ecclesiological issue.

    The APEST (apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd, teacher) system is fundamentally broken in the church today.

    Alan Hirsch's book 5Q, is like taking a car into the tyre shop for a wheel alignment, and re-calibrating the wheels so you're heading the right direction. Though we're not talking about your Kia Carnival, we're talking about re-calibrating the direction of the church. For too many years we've been heading one degree off course (the Western church that is), and finally the church is starting to wake up. If local churches and denominations as a whole embraced 5Q thinking, we would realign to God's ultimate purpose and design for his people.

    Alan Hirsch quotes Bonhoeffer who said, 'to know God is to change.' Henri Matisse said, 'to look at something as though we had never seen it before requires great courage.' Well church, it's time to be courageous. It's time to have soft eyes and look through a different lens. God has called some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be shepherds and some to be teachers (APEST - Ephesians 4:11). When the body of Christ is functioning in all its glory, then each one is empowered and released to live out their inherent gifting to the collective good of the community.

    I'll leave it to Hirsch himself to download to you the different functions and callings of the apostolic, prophetic, etc. He offers an extensive list of how each of the five fold giftings is played out in reality. Apostles for instance work at mobilizing leaders, while shepherds develop a loving culture. Prophets maintain the moral and spiritual witness of the community, while teachers foster wisdom and intelligence. Before long, you'll hopefully see how your unique personality and gifts fit into the wider body of Christ.

    Some no doubt see Alan Hirsch as A PEST, but that's probably because of the challenging nature of APEST.  The very systemic thinking flies in the face of the Christendom modus operandi of the last 1700 years! That's why we need Alan Hirsch to be a prophetic voice: To continue to push the church to be the great bride of Christ, to align itself theologically and missiologically with God's ways and to be great representatives of Jesus on the earth today.

    You need to read Hirsch.

    Grab a copy of Alan Hirsch's 5Q: Reactivation the Original Intelligence and Capacity of the Body of Christ.

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    If you want a chance for a free copy of Alan Hirsch's newest book 5Q, then all you have to do is make a comment in the Blog comments with the best answer to this question: What is the greatest challenge for the church today? You have until 28th July, 2017 to comment!

    (The best response will win a new copy of 5Q. Only comments on the blog will be applicable. Comments on facebook and twitter, though valuable will not be considered. The best comment, when chosen, will need to email me at peter.brookshaw@aus.salvationarmy.org with mailing details so as to receive the copy of 5Q. Opportunity to win a free copy of 5Q closes 11:59pm 28th July 2017, AEST. Thanks).

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    In my open letter to the body of Christ, I highlight the five fold typology of ministry and offer a call for repentance and deep consideration for each of the gifts we see in the body of Christ. We need to celebrate the fundamental way God has designed us to be. Collectively we are meant to have apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers flourishing in the world today.

    Don't forget to subscribe to petebrookshaw.com to keep up to date with my latest blogs.



    Wednesday, March 8, 2017

    An Open Letter to the Body of Christ

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    To the people of God,

    I find myself being thankful this day with how you each contribute to the work of the Kingdom of God. So many personalities. So many gifted people. So much passion.

    In Ephesians 4:11, the Scriptures point out that some are called to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers. Many of you may be able to identify yourself in one of those giftings; a place where you seem to fit, and where you find energy and purpose.

    Have a quick think now. Are you an apostle? Are you a prophet? Are you an evangelist? Are you a pastor? Are you a teacher?


    Apostles

    First of all, let me address the apostles who are reading this. You might find yourself using the term loosely, because someone has criticized you for even daring to use such a term. I mean to them, the term Apostle was only ever used to refer to Paul and the 12 disciples. Nonetheless, take comfort because to be an apostle, is simply to be someone who is sent. Take note of what the resurrected Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you’ (John 20:21). You are sent.

    Don’t let the criticism of others cause you from being sent, to being spent. You have so much to offer the body of Christ. I am sorry, because at times we have stifled your passion, and squeezed out your ingenuity, because it was daring and revolutionary. I’m sorry because over the years you have had to leave denominations that you perceived didn’t value what you had to offer the church. I apologize.

    I encourage you to boldly go where no other leader has gone before. Pull down the devil’s kingdom, where ever he might hold dominion, and do what you do best: storm the forts of darkness.

    We’ve wrapped you in cotton wool for too long. We’ve asked you to conform. We’ve sent you out to plant churches all the while hoping you wouldn’t rock the proverbial boat of denominational security. It’s time to let you walk on water and follow after Jesus. When Peter jumped out of that boat, he yelled, ‘Lord, if it’s you, I’ll come.’ Be inspired to hear the whisper of the Holy Spirit, and be prepared to get out of that boat and give it a shot.

    If you don’t innovate, the church will become a shadow of its former self, and you’ll sit on the couch years from now, wondering what could have been.

    Step up. Fulfil your place in the body of Christ. Lead. Innovate. Create. Make history.


    Prophets

    Now, I’m over to you prophets. You know who you are. You may not use that term, probably because you’re a little nervous of the reaction you’ll get. But you know who you are. Circumstances arise and everyone seems to be in a theological quandary and all the while you have a burning word on your heart that you hope someone will listen to.

    Remember you are not responsible for who and how people respond to what you say. You are responsible for saying what you feel God called you to say. Now don’t run from this. You can’t say to God, ‘Send someone else.’ If you run, God will follow you. Just read the book of Jonah. I don’t mind eating fish, but I’m not keen on being swallowed by one.

    When you’re close to Jesus, you have words on your heart. I sense, that you don’t so much have the concern about saying too much, but rather not enough. See, at times you have a word for the church, that is edifying in a challenging kind of way, and you have a fear of sharing it. Though, a word not spoken, is a word not heard. How can the church be inspired by a prophet who doesn’t speak?

    I have three young children, and I’m forever telling my children to close their mouths. When they’re eating too loudly, ‘Close your mouth.’ When they’re talking too much, ‘Close your mouth.’ The church has told you too often to, ‘Close your mouth.’ And many times you’ve agreed. I’m sorry. I’m sorry you’ve felt the fear of speaking and the fear of the condemnation of those who will hear what you have to say. Forgive us; the church.

    You must keep us on the right track. You must spend more time in the presence of God, so that you can utter the words that have been spoken into your spirit, into ours. Stand up, and be prophetic.


    Evangelists

    Can I just say right from the outset, ‘Wow, what a passion you have for the lost.’ I want us to celebrate that today. Let me validate your ministry, because Jesus definitely articulated that his role was to seek and to save that which is lost. I get your passion. I admire it. You care that people are lost. You worry about what that may mean for someone. You are adamant that people need to follow Christ. What a gift. Praise God.

    Though, you know as well as I do, that the body of Christ hasn’t always been so quick to celebrate what you do and the role you play. We’ve criticized you for not caring enough, and not focusing enough on discipleship. We’ve ridiculed you for being too simplistic, too fundamental, too narrow and too legalistic. Forgive us.

    I get it now. You’re an evangelist. You’re not a chef. You’re not a teacher. You’re not a nurse. You’re more like a doctor in the emergency department administering spiritual CPR to a dying patient. Forgive us then, for trying to make you in to someone you’re not. We want to validate who you are and call you to rise up and be the evangelist God has gifted you to be.

    And let me say something: STOP LEAVING! Stop running away. Too many voices have told you to stop what you’re doing and change your ways. Though, how will anyone hear the gospel, if no one proclaims it to them?

    I suspect I know what happened. Denominations, in their early days witnessed the salvation of the lost. Then the lost climbed the mountains of spiritual success. They bred children who grew up in Christian households. They experienced such redemptive lift, that they forgot the sin that so easily used to entangle them. Then, in the epitome of hypocrisy they ridiculed you for continuing to do the work that was the impetus for their salvation so many years prior.

    If you don’t evangelise, the church will crystalize.


    Pastors

    What a gift! The very fact that you care, is gold in the eyes of a broken world. See, when others turn their back, you are there. When others don’t have the time or the inkling to provide nurture in someone’s time of need, you don’t bat an eyelid. The church needs to honour this pastoral heart.

    Now, let me clarify, I’m not talking about people who are necessarily ‘ordained Pastors’, I’m talking about you whose first response is one of care. Now you already knew that, I’m just clarifying to others. To care is not to fulfil some element of a position description relegated to those in ‘fulltime’ pastoral ministry.

    We need people of compassion the world over. The fact that the world is in such disrepair is because we lack the care and compassion towards each other. So, I want to say, ‘Thank you.’ Your compassion inspires me. I don’t know how you do it to be honest. I wonder how you sit with someone for four hours in a Magistrate’s court, waiting for the restraining order to be finalized. I don’t know how you persevere with someone who takes 3 steps forward only to take 3 steps back. You must sure like to dance.

    I digress.

    I want to say something that has been left unsaid for a long while. I’m sorry, that we haven’t always cared, that you care. I mean, you’re gifted at caring, and sometimes we’ve abdicated our responsibility of the care we need to show others, because you care. Help us do better. Show us how to care.

    Our world is yearning for care and nurture. Continue to seek after the same compassion Jesus had when he looked upon a crowd and deeply sensed they were like sheep without a shepherd.

    So who cares? Well, we all do, but you do it best.


    Teachers

    Thank you that you teach. Well actually, thank you that you learn, so that you can teach. That teaching is what keeps the body of Christ grounded in what it believes. While some in the body are gifted to show grace, you are gifted to reveal truth. And when that truth is discovered with the help of the leading of the Holy Spirit, then the church has something to learn.

    So continue to teach. Raise up the next generation. Don’t just throw them in a theological quagmire of unsubstantiated ideologies, but help them piece together God’s revelation, bit by bit. We must raise up a church that is not just aware of all the different possibilities of truth, but a church that is quietly confident of the beliefs it adheres to. If the church remains confused of its purpose, it will be devoid of direction. That’s where your job comes in. Now, this is no easy feat. We must teach people, to give them a foundation to predicate their faith upon. Your job as teacher is not merely to shake the theological foundations, but help establish them in the hearts and minds of the people.

    I don’t envy you. You need to stop reading this, and go learn some more. Read the word of God afresh. Ask the Lord to reveal something new to you as you read it. Teach us what you’re learning. Strengthen us. Help us. Teach us. We’re ready to learn.


    One Last Note


    I can’t finish this letter to you without giving you one last reminder.

    You are not gifted by the Lord, simply because the Lord revels in your giftedness. You are gifted by God, because God wants you to empower and equip the people of God for works of service, so that the body of Christ may reach unity in the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    So, by all means, be affirmed. God has created you as a unique part of the body of Christ. Understand how God has gifted others, and so, together by God’s grace, complementing and serving one another, we can make a difference in the world, for the sake of the Kingdom of God.

    Heaven knows we need to make a difference.

    We can only do that in unity.

    God bless you.

    Pete.

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