Sometimes those of us in church leadership feel ridiculous pressure to make huge breakthroughs in order to justify our existence.
There’s pressure from congregations who question whether we visit enough, are as good as the last person who did our job or have motivated enough people to take on crucial roles.
Often there’s a greater pressure from ourselves – our worst critics. The level of stress and sickness testifies to how difficult many leaders find it to be content that they are in the right place and operating in the right gear.
Last week, along with just under 600 other leaders, two wise preachers said two very simple things that helped enormously. It all came about as a few of us Methodists were invited to join the party with more than 500 leaders of the Pioneer Network gathered in Southampton.
The conference kicked off with teaching from Pete Greig, founder of the 24/7 Prayer movement. He reminded us that when the voice of God was heard during the earthly ministry of Jesus it was to say: “You are my son, whom I love. With you I am well pleased.” It was repeated at the Transfiguration and then, when Jesus asked God to glorify his name during his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, God’s answer was: “I have.”
God’s unconditional love and affection for his children is all we need to know, he said and if our leadership flow out of any other place it is not truly Christian.
The following day we heard from Alan Platt, leader of Doxa Deo a church which serves 30,000 people in ten sites in Tshwane (Pretoria, South Africa). Doxa Deo has campuses in nine cities across the world and is working with the Methodist congregation in Wimbledon.
Alan preached on the miracle of the feeding of the 5,000 as told in Mark 6: 39-43
Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish.
He said quite a bit, but the part that really struck me was his pointing out that, once Jesus had broken the bread and fish so the disciples had some each, he left them to get on with it. As he put it, he didn’t create a stockpile for them to keep coming back to.
In other words, there was no miracle until the first disciple risked breaking the bread and fish and running out of supplies.
His challenge was: “break the little pieces”. Dare to get on with the task in hand. Don’t wait until the way ahead is crystal clear – exercise faith in the doing.
So, daring to break the little pieces because all I need to know is that I am someone God unconditionally loves is a pretty rich nugget to take away from two days that held much else.
Pioneer is a UK based ‘apostolic’ movement of churches and ministries founded in the mid-80s by Gerald Coates.
The invitations for up to 50 Methodists to be a part of the leaders’ conference came through Pioneer Connexion – the link between The Methodist Church and the Pioneer Network which began in 2010.
There isn’t a formal agreement or “covenant” between our churches, but exciting things are happening which you can read about on the website.
And the whole event took place in the former Methodist Central Hall in Southampton which has been sympathetically and magnificently brought up to date as a worship and conference venue by Pioneer.