John's vision for church, shared at the AGM on Sunday 13th October 2019
John asked, ‘Do you have a sense of calling, do you have the notion that God has put a calling on your life that is unique to you?’ We all have a general call as Christians to be fruitful in letting the Spirit of God reproduce the life of God within us but there is also a call to be fruitful in a way which is unique to each one of us and it’s important that we’re clear about what God has called us to do. John then asked us to consider what that looks like for each one of us. We are not to be discouraged if we can’t answer the second question, rather to be encouraged that, by being part of the church, we will be enabled and encouraged to find that calling. Church is a new beginning from the Lord; we all bring our history to this point in time, and our frustrations, but the Lord will enable us together to have a strong sense of purpose as we find ourselves.
In the context of Harvest Sunday, John shared the following words of Jesus, ‘Don't you have a saying, 'It's still four months until harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.’ (John 4:35) Imagine a church where everyone has the same sense of calling, working as a team, expressing their own calling individually but working together. It takes a whole body of people to push back the darkness. In Proverbs the writer says, ‘Get wisdom, get understanding; do not forget my words or turn away from them.Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you; love her, and she will watch over you. The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have get understanding.Cherish her, and she will exalt you; embrace her, and she will honour you. She will give you a garland to grace your head and present you with a glorious crown.”’ (Proverbs 4:5-9)
There is a simple understanding to what we teach in the church, which we need to pursue, that is that God wants to inhabit the whole of who we are, introvert and extrovert (if we have one). That simple understanding enables pastoral situations and issues to be unpicked and dealt with. The more we understand ourselves, the more the Lord can be at the centre of our lives, the more healing can be brought into those dysfunctional areas of our lives. That simple understanding which sits at the centre of church enables outreach to happen. We need to pursue understanding of what makes people tick, what makes relationships work. Outreach happens through opportunities to share that understanding with leaders from other churches, people we know and meet in the course of our lives and through the courses and the website. Many years ago the Lord gave a simple illustration of a field – it is our job to keep the field fertile, the Lord’s job is to plant the seeds in individual lives, so they can take root and flourish. Our job as a church is to look after the field and keep it fertile, to produce good soil that builds on the core principles of Jesus being Lord of the whole of who we are and Jesus being the healer.