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It takes time..

Recently my wife made some soup – it was delicious. I made the mistake of asking how it was made. It took a long time to prepare the vegetables, it had to simmer for a long time and the vegetables needed to be blended and puréed. It took a long time and a lot of effort. I thought ‘I prefer eating it to making it’.

Developing cafechurch can be a bit like that… we want the success without the process. We need the tenacity to keep going, to do the mundane things consistently enough until we find the thing that works. May I encourage you in the process you are going through right now? It will produce something that is really, really good.

(first published by Canadian Baptists of Ontario & Quebec)

 

 

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3 steps to a great cafechurch experience

After years of developing cafechurches around the UK I have taken some time to reflect as to what makes a good experience – here are my top three answers:

  1. Prayer. Most recently we started a cafechurch and it was not the best organised but much prayer had gone into it. I particularly wanted God to use it to bring people to faith in him. That is exactly what happened. If there is one thing that I would recommend it would be to have a gospel focused, God dependent purpose that out-weighs our need to be in control. This all begins by encouraging people to pray.
  2. People. To start a cafechurch you don’t need a big team but you do need the right people. Positive welcoming ‘can do’ people will serve the best. Whatever you do don’t think that a few mailshots and notices will get the job done. People come to cafechurch because they have been invited personally.
  3. Programme. People come to cafechurch because the issue we discuss is worth talking about. Our faith impacts upon life giving a perspective that is holistic and healthy. At a time when some find hope hard to find make sure your cafechurch is helping people take destiny steps. Check out the resource booklet below (available here: http://www.cafechurch.net) for resources that will help you.[CC] Get Inspired p40&1

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The beggar with a bible

One of our cafechurches gave a bible to one of its members who went out begging. As he sat on the pavement begging someone came up to him and began to abuse him verbally. When the torrent of accusations stopped the beggar with the bible said to the man ‘God bless you’ and the man went away. Ten minutes later the man came back and asked the beggar with the bible to forgive him.

Surely, this is a sign of the in-breaking of God’s kingdom. 

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What does a welcome really look like?

ImageHaving experienced recently the harsh reality of being in a place that was aggressively unwelcoming, here are three levels of a good welcome:

1. Offering a cup of tea after a church service or inviting people over for a meal. If you invite someone over the expectation is that they will not arrive too early nor stay too late. It’s best not to ‘out stay your welcome’ you know.

2. A host encouraging a visitor to eat at their house and when they are ready to leave offers them a room for the night. Then the next day the host says to the guest ‘don’t rush off stay until the afternoon.’ And when the afternoon comes they say, ‘look it’s getting late stay over one more night.’ The next day the host will do exactly what they did the day before until the guest decides it’s time to leave. (see Judges 19:7)

3. God’s view of a good welcome is where you pursue your enemies and ask them to live with you forever. This is something that Jesus amply demonstrates. This thought is what Mark Buchanan picks up on in his book ‘Your church is too safe’ (Zondervan 2012). Furthermore in the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19: 1-10) The relationship between the guest and the host is such that both are giving and receiving – it is not one sided at all.

The challenge is to become more like the One we are devoted to.

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How to keep your spiritual fervour

There is a secret ache within a number of people I have met recently. They go to church but no longer feel they have zeal in their relationship with God, others no longer in the church are grappling with the fact they do not go but they love God and want to serve him. The emotions these situations create can cause us to question God’s nature, whether he still loves us or whether we are being punished somehow. We may even begin to scrutinise our lives and ask what have we done wrong? Why don’t we fit? I wonder whether you have ever asked these kind of questions.

In Romans 12 v 11 we read ‘Do not be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour in serving the Lord.’ Keeping your spiritual fervour is about confidence in the gospel, it’s about the fire, passion and excitement that comes from understanding that the gospel works, it is for me and it is for the world around me. It is also about conviction. We cannot convince others of what we believe unless we are convicted ourselves that what we believe is true. ‘Therefore’, says Paul ‘keep your spiritual fervour in serving the Lord’.

When Paul raises the issue of spiritual zeal in serving the Lord he says don’t be lazy or inactive but keep your spiritual passion in serving the Lord. He uses the word ‘service’ which relates to a bond servant; someone who could not pay a debt and therefore served the person to whom they owed the debt, until it was repaid. This has parallels for us as Christians; we know we are sinners and have become ‘slaves’ to righteousness, servants of the Lord. We know the debt we owed to God was far more than we could pay and we gave our lives to God that he might transform us. We serve the Lord because we know we were made by God for his glory. We are connected to, entwined with and cast upon God, as his ambassadors and bond servants. This bond generates our spiritual fervour and zeal.

Paul says that this zeal comes from the ‘Pneuma’ of the Spirit, which is about the renewal of our minds in order to know God better. It is in this context – the renewal of our mind, emotions and will through the Holy Spirit – that Paul talks about keeping our spiritual zeal. It is through the Holy Spirit that we receive fervour (heat, passion) to serve the Lord and our fervour therefore does not come from our circumstances or how we feel about them, but it comes from the person we are serving. It is the Holy Spirit working through us that causes us to overflow, to boil with a passion to serve the Lord.

Our focus needs to be on the Lord and serving him. If we focus on other things we will lose our zeal and passion to serve God. Sometimes we get lost in the mix of serving people and our own values rather than serving Christ and him only. Serving Christ might cost us reputation and comfort. It can also cost us something we greatly value, which is to be able to understand and articulate exactly where I am, what I am doing and why I am doing it. Sometimes when serving the Lord we don’t know or can’t articulate where we are, what we’re doing or why we’re doing it but we have peace that we are in the right place, that God is sovereign and in control and know’s what he is doing with us. Serving God sometimes requires us not to understand but to stand where God has put us.

Paul says keep your spiritual fervour – keep your boiling hot passion to serve God. We know the saying ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.’ Well, here, Paul is saying ‘You need to make the heat, to be in the kitchen’ – in other words, serving the Lord requires the active stirring of our hearts towards God. 

How do we keep our spiritual fervour?

Guard your heart

Ask ‘What am I focusing on?’ Focus on serving the Lord

Look around today and see where you can serve him right now.

Ask the Holy Spirit now for what you cannot do by yourself.

(With thanks to Riley Bible church)

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New resource booklet to inspire missional ministry

It’s now on sale on eBay.

cafechurch network

New resource booklet to inspire missional ministry

This booklet is packed full of articles, ideas and resources for anyone running a cafechurch or exploring the concept. Buy your copy now on eBay (10 available) http://r.ebay.com/33MYYf

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New resource booklet to inspire missional ministry

New resource booklet to inspire missional ministry

This booklet is packed full of articles, ideas and resources for anyone running a cafechurch or exploring the concept. Buy your copy now on eBay (10 available) http://r.ebay.com/33MYYf

Comments (1)

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