“Without togetherness and purpose, there is no movement.”
And being one degree off from that purpose does make a difference—not so much in baseball, but a lot when you’re going to the moon.
Consider if we are just one degree off in our collective focus and missional community. We may find ourselves working towards and arriving at a very different destination from the one intended.
We must hold 4 things in common
This week here at Staff Conference 2014, we have talked a lot about our personal walks with God and our need for patience. We have heard the call to be patient and wait on the Lord so that we are inspired for ministry.
We also talked about (and practiced) spiritual multiplication.
We considered our role as staff in the Faith Adventure process so that we can see and develop multiplying movements of disciples wherever we go.
On Friday, however, we didn’t focus in on how we’re doing on our own with God. Nor did we talk mainly about our strategy or innovations. Friday, the final day of Staff Conference 2014 was about “Together” and how it is incredibly critical that we engage in this mission of spiritual multiplication together.
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.
Mark Gauthier took us to Acts 4:32 that reads, “the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul” and exhorted us to remember that a spiritual movement must be hold four things in common:
- a common purpose “Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul…” Acts 4:32
- a common surrender “…no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” Acts 4:32
- a clear common message “…were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus…” Acts 4:33
- a common grace. “There was not a needy person among them….it was distributed to each as any had need.” Acts 4:34,35
How is your ‘common’?
The early believers were about one thing: Jesus Christ.
They willingly gave up the right to manage their own lives, surrendering it to Jesus.
They proclaimed Jesus and only Jesus. Doing whatever it took; any time, any place, at any cost, to advance the gospel.
And they ministered to each other, sharing whatever they had to meet every need.
They were united. They were in this together. And so should we be.
Mark challenged us to evaluate on a personal and organizational level how we are doing with our common sense of purpose, our common surrender, proclaiming our common message, and meeting the needs of one another (a common grace).
A collective movement vs a show of one
I think sometimes our temptation even as part of an organization which regularly talks about changing the world through movements can be to think or operate functionally as though it was a one man show.
Sometimes, if I’m honest, I can get busy just doing what I’m doing while my teammates are working hard at their jobs, but really I’m thinking and operating as if I’m a one man team.
Sometimes the temptation is to trust God and be faithful for the sake of my ministry’s success and my ministry’s fruit.
Sometimes, I forget the bigger picture, and how critical understanding that picture is. God will advance His Kingdom powerfully through us as a collective movement.
The collective in action
I was reminded of the bigger picture as we closed our national staff conference. We recognized those who have laboured and served Christ in our ministry for 35, 40 and even 45 years!
What a powerful statement it was to see those faithful men and women, heroes of our organization and of the faith, standing on that stage and being recognized for what they have allowed God to do through them for most of their earthly lives!
What could happen together?
Ironically, in the midst of recognizing so many individuals tonight, the message to me wasn’t about each of them.
The message to me was how incredibly much God can do in and through us when we stop looking at ourselves and start looking at Him, and when we begin to do that together.
What can God do with hundreds, with thousands of Christians who will stand up together and say “Here are we! Send us!”?
What can God do when we toss aside our personal glory, our personal successes, our personal ministries and begin to work together with a common purpose from God Himself?
What can God do when we are fully surrendered to His leadership, proclaiming the gospel from every rooftop, campus, workplace and digital platform, committed to serving each other and walking arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand towards Home?
What could happen is exactly what happened in Acts: An inspired, spiritually multiplying movement of world-changers who will take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Together.
Leonard’s final charge
“Whatever you have today, throw it at the Great Commission. God will double it. Every time.”
To close the conference Leonard Buhler took the stage to give a final charge, potentially his last opportunity to do so before he steps out of his role as president sometime in 2015.
He thanked us for the privilege of leading us over these past 10 years and shared with tears in his eyes how God has changed him through this role.
He emotionally thanked and praised each leader of our different ministries. He thanked each for their friendship, their leadership and encouraged them; pronouncing with deep conviction, “You are the right one for the job!”
As Leonard and his wife Debbie walked off stage, we met them with a long standing ovation.
Leonard’s leadership characterizes so much of what I want my life to be about, and his parting words summed our conference and the theme of “Together”.
“Keep throwing your life at the Great Commission. We will too.”