Following Jesus is a great adventure, but you wouldn’t believe it the way we frequently present it. It’s always a sadness to me whenever I see ‘discipleship’ wrapped up as a package, often a course of some kind, with individuals simply left to work it out on their own from there. If there is a package, appropriate to put ‘discipleship’ in, it’s a living, human being.
Many people in our churches experience a tipping point when they encounter God away from their normal church routine, such as church weekends away, youth camps, festivals, and conferences, but we can help people closer to home through encounters and experiences, which can propel them forwards in the mission of God where God has placed them. I’ve come to see part of my leadership responsibility is about providing such an environment, for people: ones where people crossing tipping points become much more likely. Church is often so safe we’re not disturbed from our comfort zones.
Let’s look, for a moment or two, in particular at the tipping point into faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour.
In my own story, there was a period of about two/three months when I felt as if I was wondering around in a fog, inwardly asking ‘if there is someone out there called ‘God’ please appear in front of me, so I can see you’. I wasn’t attending a church, I didn’t know anyone I referred to as a ‘Christian’, even though one of my best friends was – he just ‘went to church’ from my perspective. I was sixteen, it was the summer holiday between the lower and upper sixth.
However, one night, in the early hours, I gave in: ‘OK God, if you do exist, I give up, here’s my life and if you can make something of it, it’s yours’ (that was the gist, but I’m sure not those exact words). No flashing lights, but a deep sense of peace, coupled with a profound awareness this person called Jesus was alive and I now needed to understand what this meant. The next day I knocked on the door of my next door neighbours, they also ‘went to church’ and asked if I could join them on Sunday.
I cried out to God, having stepped beyond my normal coping mechanisms. In some ways I was a leader back then, but leading friends down a road, which was destructive. Like the son, in Luke 15, I ‘came to my senses’ and from somewhere deep within me, even though I didn’t have the words to express it, a question began to frame itself: ‘what if there is a God who is also able to reach into me and re-shape me?’
I was a young person then, who had no idea churches were supposed to be life rescue centres. I wonder how we are offering young people a way into opportunities to respond to Jesus who is the good news? Maybe we’re a small church, with hardly any young people, or even none, but we can still provide opportunities for them to tip into faith in Jesus Christ. Are you making the most of opportunities around such as:
Hill House: For many years Hill House has provided a tipping point into new life in Christ for many young people sent from Baptist Churches from around WEBA.
Spring Harvest: Spring Harvest aims to create space for individuals to encounter God, to inspire confidence in the good news of Jesus Christ and to see transformation in lives, communities and culture through the work and power of the Holy Spirit. Baptists from all over the UK, have regularly found this to be the case. The positive impact across our Baptist Churches has been immense and we want to acknowledge that. I think this particular partnership, which really asks for very little from us as an organisation, is more about privilege than anything, but for those of us who are local church leaders and Ministers, it provides a fantastic opportunity for those in our congregation.
Eden Event www.edenevent.org Meeting monthly, fourth Sunday evening of each month, on the premises of Counterslip Baptist Church, Bristol.
You may know of others, so please let us know if you wish us to profile them.
A key challenge for us as churches must always be the question: are we providing enough opportunities for people to ‘tip’ into faith in Jesus? Obviously, we need to do this for each generation, but I have focused more upon young people here, because I have concern we are neglecting the rising generations more than others.