God has come to us! That is what Christmas was all about. With His coming in Jesus also comes His Kingdom, and Jesus straight away started announcing that. His Kingdom coming changes things - as it brushes against people those lives change. As a church we want to see Kingdom life across the city - we want to see the changes that it brings! For that we are a church in mission in this city - walking with Jesus together applying ourselves to the Kingdom task.
Because we want to see Kingdom Life, a greater work of God through us in the city, we seek God to add capacity for His Kingdom ministry among us.
Acts records the story beyond the earth-bound life of Jesus. It shows Kingdom effects spreading for 100s miles through Greece and towards Rome. The added capacity mostly comes in the form of new people, people who witness, preach and lead. Yet those newbies are not simple clones of the first Christians, nor robots with a gospel software download to run with. Instead as Acts unfolds things are messy. People catch on, learn and participate at different speeds. No simple set of classroom lectures will cut it, because for each individual their own spiritual growth is required.
Apollos in chapter 18 is an example. He already has much learning, but for some reason it is not enough. Like the twelve or so in the next chapter, they are disciples yet something is lacking. We are not told all the details, but we are told that Priscilla and Aquila helped Apollos learn 'more adequately'. In addition both Apollos and the new group needed to progress from the baptism of John to that of Jesus. Recall that John was about preparation, while Jesus was meeting God Himself - God with us, baptising with Spirit and fire, i.e. the capacity of God coming within you.
That enabled Apollos to be commissioned and released for ministry, adding capacity. So there is a clear link between us going deeper with God and increased capacity for ministry among us. As a church leadership we are seeking God for increased capacity, so we have identified 4 major areas to look for increase. The first (explored today) is in individuals - for people to know God more, to go deeper with Him, to receive His equipping. We want that greater spiritual depth for both young and old (we see no lower age limit).
The biggest levers each of us have in this regard are our spiritual rhythm and diet. There is no new magic formula, but the ongoing call to pay attention to the things we are involved in and the different types of input we receive. Whilst each of us is responsible for our own rhythm and diet, remember that we need each other - hence the ongoing call to share the walk. In practice that means being in a prayer triplet, having a mentor type figure and/or mentoring others less experienced in the faith. For 2018 it would be great if at the end of the year we had the majority of members in a prayer triplet.
Mentoring is for all, regardless of age or ability, because it resonates with the discipleship process that Jesus modelled. Priscilla and Aquila mentored Apollos for a while to good effect. Again for 2018 it would be great if every member became confident that they could disciple someone new to the Christian faith.
The spritual depth in these Acts passages included the full experience of the baptism of Jesus and receiving the Holy Spirit. In 2018 we are keen that young and old alike experience the work of the Spirit and become comfortable with His gifts ministering among us. Again we see no lower age limit to this.
Key Qn: [UP] Where is God leading you to go deeper with Him?
Challenge: Make one clear positive adjustment as you start 2018
Note the challenge is not about making big audacious goals! Start with a realistic adjustment and work from there. The bottom line is that this is about us because at the end of the day the church is people (see Big Things for Us). Next week we will look at people coming together, i.e. our capacity as we meet corporately. Yet while our coming together Sunday by Sunday for worship is very important, understand the subtlety that this is only one part of your rhythm and diet (albeit an important part). Your spirituality and your own ability to go deeper with God is a bigger picture - keep this in mind and take a holistic approach.
Apollos went on to be a co-worker with Paul and a leader in his own right. Of course not all of us are called to be leaders like Apollos, but we can all go deeper with God. That depth will surely lead to an increased capacity for Kingdom ministry between us, which can only be a good thing. Through 2018 let us be embraced by God - the baptism in Jesus and His Spirit. That will lead to God's capacity in us; that will enable further Kingdom work through us across the city.