Thursday, 24 February 2011

Not Good Enough

Interesting isn't it? So much pastoral work is related to encouraging people to have good self-esteem and so much ministry time is spent trying to empower people to act. Often people lack belief that God actually likes them let alone is for them, that He loves them. All too often it leads to passivity, risk aversion, a reluctance to step up or step out. And in the all too common, yet seemingly extreme instances, to eating disorders, self-harm and other complex and life-sapping conditions.

Yet, the same ministers who spend time selfelssly and compassionately working to see these wonderful children of God set free are at the same time so often preaching a 'gospel' which isn't good news at all! Rather, it actually promotes a worldview which causes the very problems that we then spend so much time and energy trying to fix!!

We teach that we are all sinners, that we have all fallen short of God's standard, that there is no health in us, that we are doomed to hell. We paint a picture that has God as a wrathful judge whose vengeful anger is spent on his son rather than on us who so richly deserve it. We remind ourselves that only God can heal us, that only He decides who he heals, that everything that happens is for our good - even the tragic. We declare to our few remaining volunteeers that actually the work they do is only there because God planned it, that when they do it it is wothless except that God endorses it....

Now of course, as a good (well, goodish) evangelical, I acknowledge that there is truth in the above statements. But out of context and rolled together they paint a very disempowering view of God and his view of us.

Saw this church sign recently - seemed to epitomise this approach:

I want to shout 'God is for us, God loves us, we are valued and valuable. We are precious and lovely, we have immense significance in His eyes' I want to remind us that God isn't a judge waiting to trip us up. He isn't a puppet master directing a play in which we only get to act the parts.That we're called to the intimate wonder of being the bride, not a slave.

God pinpoints sin, then offers a helping hand and an arm round us and an encouraging word. He doesn't drape us in this cloak of unworthiness and misery.

Anyone with us in this?

Thursday, 10 February 2011

ya ya ya

Catherine and the kids have been with us in Carlisle where Janet & I are working with YWAM for three months. Emma the Base Leader and I were chatting about vision and how to recruit new staff for new bits of the vision. Just as Emma was expressing the difficulty of getting buy-in to vision, Josh (21/2) was spinning round on a cushion shouting exuberently 'Ya, ya, ya, ya, ya'. The perfect example. Huge energy, unbridled enthusiasm, total focus on task, but other than noise, no end product!!

What followed was even funnier (see video clip below). Becky (the visionary) trying to get Josh (the enthusiastic missionary) to implement the vision. Result, Becky persistently complaining 'I don't think it will ever get done and Josh happily spinning and shouting 'ya, ya, ya' in the corner. In the midst of this our fearless Base Leader is imparting encouragement and wisdom to Becky who is resolutely confident that the vision is beyond her and her teams meagre resources.

So how do we do it? How do we avoid those with vision becoming disappointed, disillusioned? How do we avoid willing workers spending their energy extravagantly on the wrong thing? Scripture tells us that without a vision people run round like headless chickens, but even if there is vision, if it isn't communicated effectively or received, the end result is the same.... Watch the video and post your thoughts!

It made me think - I wonder how often God has vision for me, longs for me to get involved only to look later and find I am in a corner, spinning around effectively screaming 'ya, ya, ya'.