Last Sunday the 11th of June, Leadership Team (LT) held an informal congregational meeting with the church family at SCG. The goal of this meeting, following the end of the consultancy process with Tim D and Luke M from John Mark Extension (JME), was for LT to provide a ‘window into their reality’.
What does that mean? During the consultancy weekend with Tim and Luke, they said a goal for their efforts with SCG was to allow LT to get a window into the world of SCG – i.e. what are some of the things that SCG loves and are passionate about. The final report from JME then encouraged LT to provide SCG with a window into LT’s world. Therefore, this was the goal for LT last Sunday to provide SCG with a window into the world of LT, as LT contemplates the future of SCG.
As the meeting began I tried to explain this goal of looking through the windows and made the joke that it is like we were back watching Playschool and wondering which window we would look through today. One of the witty members of the SCG church family said: “There’s a bear in there!”
But rather than seeing a bear, I invited them to look with LT at what we both know and love and this is what we saw…
- The gospel is urgent
I shared with SCG the distressing news that a friend of mine, who owned a skate shop downtown, was killed in a car accident on the Northern Rivers last week. When I heard the news last Saturday, I simply couldn’t believe it. In fact, my boys and I had ridden to town and were on our way to the shop when we heard the devastating news. I expected a double grief – firstly I lost an acquaintance that was always ready on the end of the phone to be creative and help me however he could. Whenever I was in the shop we would often debrief on life and sport. I even challenged him 18 months ago to read Word One to One with me – he brushed it off. I pushed him on it and said he’d keep pushing me off, so let’s just do it. He chuckled and agreed with me, but declined to read through John’s gospel. Our city needs to hear the news from John’s gospel: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:36. There is an urgent need.
- We are the church
Secondly, I suggested that the Western church is often anaemic when it thinks about its life. Ask the average Aussie or even average Aussie church-goer, what is the church? A common response is that it’s one hour on Sunday in a cold/hot building! This falls soooooo far short of the rich, dynamic, creative, spontaneous, risky, consistent, and everyday life that defines God’s people in God’s word. In fact, the Bible is insistent ‘we’ are the church. Living stones. Living for Jesus not just for one hour on Sunday, but Monday through Sunday.
- Don’t be a mule
Finally, don’t be a mule! This sounds very cryptic! But here is part of my script from Sunday to help us, together, understand this encouragement:
You might be like, Stew you have definitely lost me on this one.
So let me read you a quote from a new book from this key Aussie Leader (Ray Galea):
“It is so easy to be a mule in Christian ministry and not a donkey. A mule is the offspring of a male donkey and female horse. The result is a mule can’t reproduce. It’s the end of the line.
A donkey, however, can reproduce, who in turn produce other donkeys.
I have known both the importance and the constant challenge of reproducing myself in ministry – raising up and developing leaders who will, in turn, raise up other leaders.
Or put it another way… to make disciples, who make disciples, who make disciples.”
So don’t be a mule. Look to reproduce yourself. Be someone who is always looking to replicate yourself. Be careful not to look only inward and the crises that are drowning you.
Look up and out. Be a burning light. So that if we dropped you in:
- Goondiwindi, you would set that town alight, Monday through Sunday, with the love and light of Christ.
- Geelong, you would set that town alight, Monday through Sunday, with the love and light of Christ.
- Geraldton in WA, you would set that city alight, Monday through Sunday, with the love and light of Christ.
- Goonellabah. Can I pray now, that you would set that town alight, Monday through Sunday, with the light and love of Christ.
So, I presented three combined ‘windows’ for SCG and LT that we look through and share together. We pray you could give a hearty ‘Amen’ to this vision too.
Over the next hour of the meeting, we looked at three critical issues LT is facing as it contemplates the future of SCG – leadership, location, and finances.
Steve T had prepared reflections on these three areas and led the meeting with my assistance. Then, the meeting was opened up for questions that Steve, myself, and Ritchie aimed to answer.
Like all meetings, there is always more to be said and more questions to be asked. Therefore, we were thankful to have had the opportunity to meet again with members of SCG for an hour on Wednesday night this week for a Q&A with LT. There was a warm, earnest, and thoughtful mood in the room and we were able to delve a little deeper into people’s concerns, fears, and confusion.
Now, over the coming weeks, LT will aim to provide some prayer points for SCG (and the wider church family). The prayers will be for LT as it moves towards making a decision regarding the future of SCG at its next meeting on July 26, before communicating with the church family at SCG the plan for its future on Sunday the 30th of July.
Would you please pray for SCG, LT, and our wider church family – that in the midst of these weighty decisions, we might still shine bright for Jesus, Monday through Sunday, in our city.
Shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain. Phil 2:15b-16