A Year of Focus

The Senior Leaders and I have been giving thought to our priorities this year in Redeemer. As we have done this we’ve realised that there is just so much we could give ourselves to and there is simply not the time or resources to do it all. This reminded me of something I’ve been learning over the past few years.

Expectations, busyness and the art of saying ‘no’

Last year a church leader whom I greatly respect shared this mantra with me that has stuck in my mind ever since:

“Every need/opportunity is not a calling”

There are a thousand things we could give our time to but the reality is we are limited people. We limited in a thousand ways, by time, skill level, intellect, experience, education and of course we’re limited by our DNA and to a certain extent the start we had in life… our upbringing, our family of origin. Peter Scazzero in his book ‘Emotionally Healthy Spirituality’ speaks about this but he does'n’t frame these limits negatively. He speaks about “the gift of limits” (I preached on this topic two years ago listen here).

Scazzero says:

“Maturity in life is when someone is living joyfully within their God given limits.”"

The true vocation for every human being is the will to be oneself
— Søren Kierkegaard

When we accept the reality that in our humanity we have these God-given limits then we can breathe a sigh of relief that we don’t have to do everything or be everything to everyone. We can live into who we are.

Not knowing or accepting our limits can lead to a kind of reactive frenetic living that is both wearisome and soul-destroying and we can lose ourselves in the midst of it. We become overrun by the exceptions and demands of others. We need an alternative way of living and there is a great freedom in accepting our limits. In fact, for the Jesus follower limits should not just be accepted but embraced as gifts that actually enable us to be ourselves and live into our unique story. Saying ‘no’ to many good but ultimately distracting things actually enables you to say ‘yes’ to the few important things that you know you need to do in this life. This is a lesson I am still learning as I am sure you are too. It is a hard lesson to learn sometimes and these past few years have taught me the need of embracing my limits, learning the art of saying ‘no’ and making room for the Spirit of God to guide me to the things I need to give my ‘yes’ to. I now know his is a mark of a healthy mature faith that leads to a healthy mature life bearing much fruit.

The Lie of the Church Hustle

I get concerned when we as a church community forget this and instead start to live into the mantra of our culture which says we should hustle and try to do as much as we can. Sadly many churches attempt to live like this — catering to every need and every possible opportunity that lies before them — and filling their church calendars with meetings, programs and events that ultimately just make people tired, busy and unavailable for the people in their lives. This is not the way we want Redeemer to be. We should remember that we are not a big church and we actually cannot do everything. Instead, when we embrace this gift of limits corporately we can begin to live into the calling God has for us as a church. There is so much more for us as individuals and as a church.

Our Senior Leaders have been reflecting recently on what our priorities as a church should be. We want to be faithful yet we know that being frenetic, tired, busy people us not a picture of what it means to be fully human. We have no better example than Christ himself who lived in a rhythm of retreating to times of solitude and prayer with his Father than often meant saying no to the demands of the crowds of people wanting a bit of his time. He knew his limits and he knew the few important things he needed to do.

Jesus had his mission, he brought God’s kingdom near and through his death and resurrection he invited us back into full participation in that Kingdom. But that wasn’t the whole story. He left us with his example of a life shared with others, investing in them and making disciples. Here is Jesus final word to his first disciples and the great calling on the church:

“go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” 

(Matthew 28:16-20)

We want to be a community that makes disciples, that truly practices the way of Jesus which means becoming more like him and helping others become more like him. I truly believe that spiritual formation, being formed everyday in the way of Jesus will led to whole and healthy lives and in turn this leads to a flourishing church community that can practice table & garden and serve and love one another and our city well.

We will not see our church formed in the way of Christ if we as leaders are not being formed in the way of Christ. It’s with this in mind that we are making it a priority this year to gather and invest in you our wider leaders. We wanted to get more time together throughout the year to receive some vision, direction and teaching but also to spend time together worshipping, praying and ministering to one another that we build each other up in Christ. We’re doing this through two new gatherings called Learning Days and Wider Leader Worship Nights.

As we have discussed, life can be very busy and we don’t want church life to fill every space in our diaries. Not at all. What we do need, however, is simple, focused and sustainable rhythms that we can commit to. These new gatherings have been designed with this in mind. Yes, we are introducing more gatherings because these types of gatherings were simply not happening over the past two years but we have made every effort to design these rhythms to be as simple and sustainable as possible. In the next few days I will be posting the dates for these gatherings for the rest of 2018-19. If you have committed to serving as a leader this year please add the dates to your diaries. We hope you find these gatherings to be high value, focused and blessed times that help shape you more in the way of Jesus.

Grace & Peace,