A prophetic moment? Developing a rhythm of resilience
Let us allow our devotional roots to grow deeper, to gain the strength of Christ, through His Spirit - and in taking His yoke upon us, become a pastoral presence within our communities and the gospel voice that our context so desperately needs to hear. By William Wade
As conversations around the subject of the easing of restrictions capture our national mood of hopefulness these days, we are also facing a sense of hope within our churches, with less restrictive services being planned and a looking forward to unmasked singing once again ringing out from our gatherings. These are days in which we are looking to ‘live with the virus’ and working out what that will look like within our own local contexts.
One of the stark realities of our coming out of a more restrictive lifestyle is that we will inevitably be rubbing shoulders with more people, both within our churches and within our communities. We will be seeing faces again and we will be easier in each other’s spaces, looking to develop a physically closer culture again, rather than holding that two-metre gap between us. This will also allow us to face people that have struggled, wept, grieved and lost so much during the past 18 months. We are living in days when to be a minister in Christ’s Church and in our communities has an unquestionably valid pastoral role to be embraced and a prophetic missional opportunity to be grasped.
So, how do we step into all that will be coming our way, and for many of us, has already been taking place over this past coronavirus season? One thing is for sure – we can’t do it on our own. I come from a military background as a soldier, and as a missionary to British soldiers with the military missionary organisation SASRA. I am now the minister of Life Church in Cuffley, Hertfordshire, a part of the Central Baptist Association of churches.
My military training, both as a soldier and as a missionary to soldiers, included a significant amount of training in resilience: resilience as a soldier in preparation for battle and resilience as a missionary in preparation for spiritual battle. This training served me well and as a former boxer, I am aware of pushing through pain barriers, going the extra mile and realising that the body and mind can take more than what we sometimes imagine it can. However, this is not the kind of resilience I am suggesting here.
The Central Baptist Association recently had our online Assembly gathering, which had Geoff Colmer, team leader and new Baptist Union President, speaking to us about being attentive to rhythms of grace. It was inspirational and pastoral, but I sensed something else – that it had a prophetic edge to it as well. He was suggesting that when we place a high priority on our own devotional life, then we find that we have the strength to be the kind of ministers that flourish within the kingdom of God. In other words, that we are able to minister from the overflow of hearts full of the Spirit of God, to our churches and on into our communities, rather than having to rely on our own limited physical and emotional resources.
At Life Church, where I am privileged to serve, we took our ministry leaders away for a day of prayer and seeking God about our future at the beginning of 2020. We had no idea what was about to engulf our world at that point. We sensed clearly that God was calling us to be a hub for our community – a hub for Him.
Out of that sense of leading came the decision to build a community café, which was then built over lockdown, and we are now having people from the community coming in with stories of loneliness, pain, anger and grief. We have been able to meet with these people in a relaxed way (over coffee and cake) and have been able to minister to them on a level that is appropriate.
As our church has reopened since Easter, we have grown weekly and are meeting pastoral needs as they arise. There is a sense that God is doing something in our midst and we are attempting to keep in step with His Spirit.
How do we do that? Well, we have a strong ethos in the church of leaning on His strength and not our own. We constantly remind ourselves that the only way we can continue to minister on this level is through the Spirit of God, trusting in the words of God and in releasing the people of God. Our resilience is one of surrender, not of trying harder. As we are in the middle of a series on the fruit of the Holy Spirit right now, our mantra for this season is, ‘Holy Spirit trees produce Holy Spirit fruit’. It’s about being, as Geoff Colmer says, ‘attentive to the rhythms of grace’; it’s about ministering from the overflow of our devotional life with Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 15: 58 encourages us, ‘Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.’
In this holy moment where we are coming into a new season in our nation, where restrictions are easing and opportunities will come our way, let us march into this season recognising that our own strategies, plans and programmes will not be enough to meet the incoming needs of broken lives. Let us allow our devotional roots to grow deeper, to gain the strength of Christ, through His Spirit, and in taking His yoke upon us, become a pastoral presence within our communities and the gospel voice that our context so desperately needs to hear. This may very well be a prophetic moment for the Church – for your church – to take hold of.
Father, would you grant us the resilience of the Spirit to lead, empower and revive us as we go.
Top image | RODNAE Productions | Pexels
William Wade is minister at Life Church, Cuffley
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