Around 25 years ago I had this concept of 'pastor the nations'. The thinking was that part of the role of the church is not only to pastor those who are connected to our activity but also to be about pastoring a town/city/borough, the region, the nation and nations. The Kingdom of God has dynamics, wisdom, principals and understanding that should be influencing every sphere of society not just those who attend a meeting on a Sunday morning.
To this end I started to get to know those who were the leaders in my own borough (it is always good to start with where you live!) When I had the vision for doing something in the night-time economy it was an easy sell because I knew and worked alongside key people in the local authority, town centre management, etc. They knew me, trusted me and we were on the same page in terms of working for the good of the community.
Since 2007/2008, as the concept of night-time economy work was replicated in other towns and cities, God moved me into the national arena. Over the years I have met with and worked alongside a range of national leaders in government, home office, police, royalty, business, voluntary and church. The concept of pastoring the nation is one that requires connectedness and partnership with others who have a national / international [not local or even regional - I have found they are very different levels of] concept and understanding. The heart always needs to be people and communities - which is what the Kingdom of God excels in!
As with any journey there will be struggles and people, especially those with a smaller concept and vision, will come against you. As I have faithfully followed a national and then international vision people who don't get it have sometimes turned critical and judgemental - trying to block growth and expansion, bogging down the vision with unnecessary detail and potential problems. This hurts (especially when the attacks are personal) but this is when you trust in God, knowing that when you are out of your depth is when God can be God!
So to all you who are called to pastor the nations - keep going! Let's work together! God is way bigger than you or me, any locality or nation anyway - he has a galactic vision and loves it when we grow bigger into his view and heart.
During lockdown Paul is filming some 'Coffee and Chat' videos with people connected to King's Church, Halifax.
Thinking about keys to transforming communities from my own experiences. In Luke 10:-9 we read:
After this, the Lord Jesus formed thirty-five teams among the other disciples. Each team was two disciples, seventy in all, and he commissioned them to go ahead of him into every town he was about to visit. He released them with these instructions:
“The harvest is huge and ripe. But there are not enough harvesters to bring it all in. As you go, plead with the Owner of the Harvest to drive out into his harvest fields many more workers. Now, off you go! I am sending you out even though you feel as vulnerable as lambs going into a pack of wolves. You won’t need to take anything with you—trust in God alone. And don’t get distracted from my purpose by anyone you might meet along the way.
“Once you enter a house, speak to the people there and say, ‘God’s blessing of peace be upon this house!’ If a lover of peace resides there, your peace will rest upon that household. But if you are rejected, your blessing of peace will come back upon you. Don’t feel the need to shift from one house to another, but stay put in one home during your time in that city. Eat and drink whatever they serve you. Receive their hospitality, for you are my harvester, and you deserve to be cared for.
“When you enter into a new town, and you have been welcomed by its people, follow these rules: Eat what is served you. Then heal the sick, and tell them all, ‘God’s kingdom realm has arrived and is now within your reach!’
The keys / steps here are:
I have seen this work time and again as people of faith seek to bless communities by investing of themselves as we partner with a wide range of agencies also seeking to bring about community and people transformation.
Meetings without food should be an email - in that simple act of connecting over food and drink we become equals - the connection becomes meaningful, fun and of the kingdom not just business and an agenda item!
We need to minister - in that 'loving the person in front of us' we are ministering and seeing healing of sickness, wounds, hurts and in doing so bringing about a societal change that shows...
The Kingdom of God is within our reach - a Kingdom of love, hope, joy, peace, positive change, freedom from addictions, lower crime rates, etc and also a Kingdom of changed lives with new perspectives, a new way of living with Jesus at the heart of all we are and do
As part of my furloughed down time I am looking afresh at various aspects of my life, ministry and calling (which I think is a great thing to be doing!) This few weeks is a great time to be creative, to connect again with that pioneering and visionary spirit that isn't bogged down by the mundane-ness that comes with running any organisation / business.
I have caught up on a documentary on a national hotel chain and that got me to thinking about leadership. Yesterday I posted Luke 10:1-9 and this I think is a great example of Jesus style leadership - examples below are more around Christian leadership, but some can be dynamics for any leadership type:
1 - Jesus recognised we need others. Leadership is not for lone-rangers but a team effort - not one lording it over the others but all equals - working out the vision / respecting the vision already in place and working toward the collective best.
2 - Jesus sent - he empowered, equipped and released. His style wasn't to micro-manage - he recognised the skills, value and insight each individual invested - he commissioned them and off they went to get on wi't'job!
3 - Jesus called people to the role - leadership is a calling (especially within Christian circles) - we need to honour the call that Jesus has placed on people - especially if the call is producing fruit, seeing results and building Kingdom.
4 - He recognised the vulnerability in the going - yet he still believed in them enough to send them. The best place to lead from is that place of trusting in God as we are totally out of our depth! We also need to be people of wisdom and seekers of wisdom.
5 - Jesus said we lead to be a blessing - we need to be a blessing to others! There are some people when I see an email in my inbox my heart sinks! I wonder what is the issue now, what have they perceived I done wrong, what is the criticism, will this be another bullying email because of a decision I have made.... Yet (and thankfully) for most people I see an email / phone call / message from I am excited to hear from them because they are bringers of blessing! Be a bringer of blessing!
6 - Eat with people! I think this is so important - I love eating (!), I love connecting, I love the fun that eating together brings. I often meet people over a meal because this is key to 'we are in this together' leading.
7 - Leadership is about serving - never ask anyone to do something you yourself would not be prepared to do. Muck in / clean toilets! As a leader your purpose is to serve the team, serve the community you are reaching and serve God.
8 - The passage in Luke goes on to say, “When you enter a town and are not received, go out in the street and say, ‘The only thing we got from you is the dirt on our feet, and we’re giving it back. Did you have any idea that God’s kingdom was right on your doorstep?’" - sometimes you need to, and it is healthy to (for both your sakes) cut people off - stay true to the calling God has placed on your life - good leadership is recognising that sometimes some people are an hindrance and can destroy and steal - don't be afraid to wipe off the dirt they bring!
9 - This is all about God and his Kingdom which is bigger than any structure or organisation or individual. At the end of day as leaders it is Christ we are serving!
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