Since the vote to leave the EU on the 23rd June I’ve been part of the Baptist World Alliance Annual Gathering and heard the reactions from people from a whole variety of nations outside of the UK. We’ve had many conversations about how ‘everything has changed, but nothing has changed’. Do you ever get that feeling ‘so what’?
As Christians we are part of a global movement called into being by Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour, to co-operate with him in his work of transformation. We are part of local churches who have most probably drawn up a vision statement focused upon transforming lives. Do you ever (secretly) feel ‘so what’?
Seventy-two has as its focus the fact that Jesus calls people, just like you and me, to reach other people. Remember those seventy-two in Luke 10?
Of course, you won’t remember their names because they’re not recorded for us. Sometimes, it’s the fact no one else in the church recognises God has called us as well, which is the thing that discourages us and gets us down. It’s at those times I remind myself (more likely I’m reminded by the Lord) Jesus knows, Jesus sees, Jesus calls and Jesus sends … me! Do you need reminding?
That said, I still meet people who feel isolated. One of the key themes, which has emerged among those taking part in our first Forge Training process, has been the sense of relief ‘I’m not the only one’. I commend Forge Training to you, even whilst I recognise it is not everyone who can give the necessary time and energy over the twelve-month training period. However, if you want to intentionally pursue wherever the mission of God is calling you, this may be for you.
Clare is part of our Forge Training. Clare and her husband, Guy, are two of just five active members of a Baptist Church in their village. They’ve struggled to simply keep, keeping on over the years, but they’ve swum against the tide and worshipped locally, rather than drive the half an hour into Bristol, where many Christians might disappear to church. The church of which Clare and Guy are a part is of a size, which I’ve heard colleagues elsewhere in the country, suggest simply needs to close. However, alongside the activities their church has run they lead a Messy Play Club and a monthly Sunday breakfast gathering B@9. Together these two gatherings draw 30 families. This represents over 100 people, which is massive for any village context.
What strikes me is Clare is more typical than unusual of someone Jesus has called into the mission of God. As Luke 10:2 puts it in The Message version: ‘What a huge harvest! And how few the harvest hands’. What my prayer is, for people like Clare and the many others who hope will follow on in the future, is they will be equipped by Jesus himself, as the original seventy-two, by God. If those of us establishing Forge Training can help, then that would be great.
Seventy-two’s next Forge Training year begins in February 2017. For more information click here