Sunday, 26 May 2019

Discipleship Together - Luke 19:11 - 26

Take a look at your little finger, and consider how awesome it is! You can wriggle your little finger, but look carefully. It needs muscles, connected bones, and connections that extend through your hand into your wrist! Its amazingly complex. Your little finger has a local inter-dependency for it to work. Now consider your arm. With that your little finger can do a whole lot more - taking part in grabbing and placing! Yet what does it need to survive? Connection with the whole body - for blood, oxygen and nutrients. Chopped off it will not survive.

Now consider your hand without your little finger. Would it have the same grabbing ability? The bottom line is that the church body needs you - it will not have the same ability without you! Even if you think you are just the little old finger, the body without you will not be the same.

Jesus told a story of a king going off on a journey. He leaves his servants with some coins and instructs them to put the coins to work. Later the king returns: one servant had turned his coin into ten, one into five, but one had buried his. He gives the original coin back. For the first two there was affirmation and reward, they were considered trustworthy and given more responsibility. For the third, even what he had was taken away - the king was not pleased with him.

Note it is not what each of them initially gets. Here they seem to get one each (ten coins shared between ten servants). In Matthew's version individuals get different amounts, but here there is a sense of collective responsibility as well as their individual responsibility. Those who did stuff - taking a risk - proved themselves trustworthy and were given more.

Here at Countess Free Church we encourage people to take the Christ-following seriously. We encourage everyone to take responsibility for their discipleship, and understand it to be mission critical. So we encourage people to 'get stuck in' and volunteer. Yet we encourage people to not just do that as individuals, but as part of the body. Benefit from the support of a few others, being in a prayer partnership or triplet recognises your own local inter-dependency - give them permission to hold you accountable. Also be part of something bigger, that can 'grab & place'. In Countess Free Church this would be either a small group or a mission activity team. We insist each group has a purpose (not just a collection of digits!). The mission activity teams enable specific initiatives to happen, such as Two by Two or Connect 4 Jesus. Together we encourage contribution to the whole body system. So in summary there are 3 levels to engage: small, medium and whole church - which overall we describe as 'Share the Walk'.

In the story trustworthiness was shown in putting the coin to work. That means taking a risk! Yet in the doing there is growth which leads to more. We therefore emphasise learning by doing, accepting that it is risky and mistakes will occur. We encourage reflective practice: reflect, new input, go and do. Surprisingly so many still seem to ignore the 'go and do' part, yet that is where the real learning is. As we do this we are discipled, and can grow to take on responsibility for discipling others - we keep in our minds the question 'Who are you discipling?'. This whole approach requires taking a mentoring/apprenticeship approach at all levels, including discipling, learning tasks (e.g. PA system), to leadership skills.

In Jesus' story one servant had a mis-conception about the king, believing him to be mean. Others were worse, rejecting the king outright. Yet in reality the king was a generous one, who empowers, enables and entrusts. Look at Luke 19 as a whole. Jesus invites Zacchaeus to know him, and he responds with great generosity (kingdom life!). Jesus then tells this story of the coins. Then he rides into Jerusalem as a humble king. The first thing he does there is go to the temple where he overturns the tables of the vendors and money changers - people who put up barriers between the ordinary folk and God, which portrayed God as mean.

Which kind of person are you going to be? Portraying God as mean, keeping what He has given under wraps? Or getting stuck in, realising the lavish generosity of God and putting it to work, engaging, volunteering, investing. Discovering as you do that God just keeps giving more, rippling out across the city. That is surely who we are called to be as Countess Free Church

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