"Each church has its own calling and it will rise from the elders’ hearts. I encourage you to find that thing(s) that can become the culture of Jubilee and let it pervade the church.
We don’t have to use the same methods that have worked for years. We don’t have to do church perfectly on a Sunday morning.
We don’t have to keep everyone happy all of the time. However, we do have to be tuned into the Father and following Him.
What do your hearts sing about? What is at the tip of the spear?
Be bold and take up your staff and allow the Spirit to lead you. May the Rock that is our God sustain you and guide you
Revelation is vital to leadership. God’s view of things, not those of men and women, has been the starting point of all great movements of God in history. Borrowed ideas and techniques without personal Spirit-led ‘seeing’ will make us all feel as overwhelmed and as heavy-footed as David in Saul’s armour. Jesus speaks!
When Dr Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 and painted a picture of a world without prejudice, hatred or racism, the world stopped to listen.
‘I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together’.
Many years ago when Terry Virgo and his team received a picture from God of a herd of elephants running together towards a jungle, God started to shape the kind of movement He wanted Newfrontiers (the family of churches that we ChristCentral Churches are part of) to be. Although the path before them seemed impenetrable, as a herd together, the combined strength of these beasts broke through the forest and undergrowth and a path was formed that others could subsequently use. God was calling these pioneers to build a family of churches built around strong friendship that we now know as Newfrontiers. The very slogan that we hear today in many tweets, posts and speeches, ‘together we can accomplish far more than we could alone’ was birthed. This has become the signature tune, the atmosphere, the culture that many who bump into Newfrontiers churches still encounter and are often surprised by.
When I received this letter from Cerian (quoted at the top of this blog), little did I know that it would start a journey into the kind of leadership that was different to what I am used to. As I said at the start, revelation is vital to leadership. God was calling us to reshape the ‘what we do’ out of ‘who we are’. Our values and culture statements were not to just be a tag-on but the very definition and clarity about who God said we were to BE.
I remember, crystal clear, the late Simon Pettit, a beautiful godly giant, standing on the podium at Brighton conference booming out in his strong South African twang, a phrase that changed the direction of Newfrontiers from just planting churches to ‘Remember The Poor’1. And one of the things he said in that famous sermon was, although it was amazing that churches were being started at phenomenal rates across Africa, the thing that was more important to him as an apostolic father overseeing church multiplication was, ‘What kind of churches are we planting? Grace filed? Loved drenched?’ This was again a culture and values priority.
So what are culture and values? Every individual and every church together has conscious or subconscious values, principles, standards, the way we behave, attitudes, the way we do things, what we believe church should feel like. Often these are deeply held things that guide and direct what we do. And these behaviours and principles are what we call ‘values’. Someone phrased it like this: ‘What we value determines what we do. What we believe determines how we behave.’
And these values, how we behave together make up what we call the culture of the church. Sam Chand puts it like this:
‘It is the atmosphere in which the church functions. It is the prevalent attitude. It is the collage of spoken and unspoken messages.’
In short, before anybody knows what we have done or what we are doing, values and culture are the impressions people bump into as they encounter the church on a Sunday, at a prayer meeting, on tweets and posts, in the workplace or at the school gate. As Cerian put it in a nutshell: ‘What do your hearts sing about? What is at the tip of the spear?’
When I read the Bible, God seems more interested in shaping who we are, what we cherish, our values and culture rather than just what we do. Both are important of course; faith without action is dead. However, motivation, heart, Godly principles and values are often the starting point for God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.
1 Timothy 4:12
‘You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness…It is no longer good for anything….You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden’
Essentially these are values and culture driven statements. They describe something of the Kingdom of God in all its wholeness and breadth.
You see, Vision is where we feel God wants to take us. It's a mind’s eye picture of the future that inspires passion and movement.
Mission is what we need to do to get there. It's the detail; the specifics; the map.
Values and Culture, however, is different. It's the way we do things, the beliefs and deeply held heart principles about what church should feel like, how we behave and think. Salt and light; what do we taste like, what is the nature of the light we shine?
Jubilee, as we unveiled our NEW ‘WE VALUES’, I believe God is going to bring us into a new experience of church that will shape our years ahead. A fresh experience of the grace of God that will mould us ALL into who he wants us to BE TOGETHER.
WE REJOICE...because God is our Strength and Song
WE WELCOME...because God is Love
WE INSPIRE...because God is our Father
WE GO...because God is Light
Be sure that God is large and in charge. Be sure that we are a prophetic people in tune with the heart of our Father in heaven. Be sure that Jesus is building His church and nothing will stop Him. Be sure that you are [His] chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).
‘Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes (Isaiah 54:2)
and, might I add, ‘Fasten your seatbelts’, we’re in for a thrilling ride!
(Have a listen to Raj’s ‘WE VALUES’ talk here)
- You can listen to Simon Pettit's talk here.