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“I’m a hand” said the hand to the foot…

Posted by Dan Kingsley on 18th March 2013

I read the following on the Ephesians 4 ministries and it got me thinking:

“Traditionally, the concept of ministry has been narrowed to that of the pastor-teacher with evangelists forced to work outside the church and apostles and prophets relegated to the limbo-land of yesteryear. But all the ministries are needed in the church if for no other reason than to produce that essential variety which is a mark of God’s handiwork. When a church is monopolised by the ministry of a teacher then the people form an audience and tend to become to passive. Often, when a teacher leaves, his listeners leave too. Similarly, where an evangelist works alone without the other ministries, a large number of spiritual babies will be produced with no one to help them grow up and mature. If a prophet is the only ministry operating within the body then more often than not he will end up on some mountain top with a tiny handful of elite followers staunchly believing they have received more revelation than anyone else. Unbalanced by any other ministry the pastor too, on his own, produces distortion. The sheep become merely fat and wooly, over cosy and over fed, content to graze and glad to have their ears tickled, but lacking any clear sense of direction. But the Ascended Christ gives all five ministry-gifts in order to provide his Church with that richness and variety which can more nearly reflect his own.” (Philip Greenslade, Leadership).

Although these examples are taken to the extreme, I can’t help but recognise churches in these examples. We often over emphasise either teaching over worship, the prophetic over mission or worship over everything else. The simple fact for the church is that they are all important.

Having a good biblical understanding of God encourages you to worship Him. Yet worshipping God and seeking His presence should make us long for His word. These both should increase our hearts for mission and seeing the lost come to know Christ. Serving Christ in mission and seeing the hearts of the lost changed, should cause us to worship. They are all linked.

I guess the question that I’m asking is what part of the example do you see in your church? What do I see in The Oak Church? What ministry are we strong in and where are we weaker?

If we have become too cosy maybe it’s time for mission. If the sole focus of the church is mission are there pastors to help the followers of Christ, both old and new, grow and mature?

On a personal point do you thrive when sharing God’s love and the gospel with non-believers, or do you get excited when encouraging the body of Christ?  Some are called to mission. As C.T. Studd said, “Some want to live within the sound of Church or chapel bells. I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.”

However, some of us are called to intercede for the church. Some are called to encourage, some to teach etc.

Whether your calling is serving by putting out chairs on a Sunday afternoon or cleaning the toilets on a Monday morning, it is just as important as the big time evangelist.  As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12 every part of the body is important. The hand doesn’t say to the foot ‘I don’t need you’! We all have a role to play as important as each other. Are you doing yours?

For the Church to run in all Christ’s glory and fullness as we were commissioned, we need to use all the tools that Christ gave us! The great thing is when we do, Jesus’s light shines brightly for all to see in a dark and desperate world.

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A meal with Jesus

Posted by Dan Kingsley on 27th June 2012

On Sunday 24th June 2012 Chris Mason spoke from Luke 14 where Jesus, in discussion with His dinner guests over whether you can heal someone on the Sabbath, tells the parable of the wedding feast.

The parable challenges the whole social hierachy and honour of mealtimes and therefore what is important in the Kingdom of God when it comes to sharing what is probably the most regular and intimate social gathering we partake in.  As part of our discussion, we reflected that society often views mealtimes around themselves - this is a time for me to eat, to have people i want round for dinner, to show off a little, eat well etc.  Jesus, in painting a picture of an eternal mealtime where everyone is equal before a glorious host, suggests you place yourself at the bottom and allow others to raise you up, to give you honour and status.  Much bigger than mealtimes, Jesus is challenging the whole religious mindset and purpose of the law.  The people around Jesus' table as he's telling this parable would have been excellent law keepers and yet perhaps they had missed the point of a law that was meant to display to the world the glory of God and a people that know how to care for one another in the light of God's mercy and grace to them.  Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?

We challenged each other to think about who we share the table with.  Who we have round for meals.  What is our heart motivation for it?

As a follow up to this talk, we'd like to suggest a book for further reading.  'A meal with Jesus' by Tim Chester goes much much further into this parable and others rediscovering the true meaning of the meal and the transforming power it can have in bringing the gospel to our city, nation and world.  It really is worth a read - it may even transform your eating habits!

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Looking ahead

Posted by Chris Mason on 21st May 2012

We like dreaming.  We like planning.  We like asking God what’s next.

Over the past year it feels like The Oak has begun to get it’s roots down into God and into the communities where we live.  We’re beginning to figure out how to bless those around us and serve our city together.  There are a million ideas bubbling up from Life Groups and Missional Communities and we are excited about what might happen in this part of Leeds and Bradford.

With that in mind, we wanted to share with you in written word what we’ve begun to communicate through conversation. 

Lisa and I think this autumn will be significant for us as individuals and as a church.  The autumn term is often one where we’re refocused, re-energised and ready to dig deep and work hard.  We’ve had some prophetic words of late that have likened this next season for us at The Oak to ‘soaring’ (like birds in the air) and we’d certainly like to do that.  But to soar means to commit to the journey and commit to the climb.

 

There are three things we’re doing to respond to where God might be leading us:

1. Having talked with the leaders at Mosaic Church and other Churches supporting us, we are beginning to meet informally (BBQ’s and the like) with a few men and women from The Oak who seem to have character, competency and a chemistry with Lisa and I that could work in eventually forming a Leadership Team.  This is a growing process that will hopefully lead to us appointing some form of leadership Team around Christmas Time.

2. We are in conversation with the incredible Dan Hockley, who has been giving The Oak a day a week on top of his normal service to work and serve the church, about coming on staff for one additional day.  This will mean he will work one day as a volunteer and one day on paid staff with a specific remit of increasing our missional impact in the city.

3. We are offering a one year part-time internship at The Oak beginning September 2012.  Interns will work on 1-2 projects, take part in leadership and staff training and serve at our Family Gatherings (if you’re interested please speak to me).  We already have two people interested in serving us!
As you might have guessed, we’re very excited about what September holds – please pray for us.  If you have any comments on the above steps that would be helpful in our decision making over the next few months, please email us.

Thanks
Chris & Lisa
Team Leaders at The Oak

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