Details about the 2017 FIEC Leaders’ Conference have just been released and it looks a good ‘un.
I’m hoping to get along to it this year after missing the final one at Hemsby!
Check out all the details HERE.
Details about the 2017 FIEC Leaders’ Conference have just been released and it looks a good ‘un.
I’m hoping to get along to it this year after missing the final one at Hemsby!
Check out all the details HERE.
My notes from John Stevens’ final teaching session on Titus at the FIEC Leaders’ Conference 2015.
Our Challenge: Modelling a Great Example
Paul told Titus to grow the church by making disciples. This meant teaching the gospel because teaching the gospel leads to transformed lives of godliness and devotion to good works that commends the gospel to the world.
But before we make disciples we need to be made disciples.
Titus has a double focus for us. We are like Titus but also those who will be addressed by Titus (e.g. elders or older women).
Titus contains 5 challenges for us about being made disciples.
1. Are you rejoicing in the gospel?
The Gospel. All that God has done in Christ for us. Does this make your heart sing?
We find a summary of the gospel in Titus 3:5: He saved us.
He. It is all entirely of God. God has done it all.
Saved. It is a rescue mission from the judgment to come when God’s wrath is poured out.
Us. Salvation is personal. This is amazing because of who we are.
Only if we are personally gripped by the gospel will we teach the gospel.
2. Are you being taught by the gospel?
It is easy to teach others the gospel without being taught by the gospel ourselves so that we are transformed. We need to be taught by grace to say “no” to ungodliness.
You have to be saying no. No is a radical renunciation and denial. It is an active word of deep hostility against sin and its desires.
Is grace making you merciful? We need to be taught by grace to do good because God has done good to us.
3. Are you trusting the gospel for your ministry?
Are you sure the gospel is enough for the task you have been given? That teaching the gospel is enough.
Are you teaching the gospel is its full depth?
Are you holding firm to the gospel? Stand firm for the truth or you will wander. Let’s not be those who under pressure abandon the gospel.
4. Are you hoping for the future because of the gospel?
Our hope must shape how we live in the present.
We are waiting for a glorious and eternal future. Our hope is the personal appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Are we living for that eternal hope or are we wanting it all now?
5. Are you confident in the great God of the gospel?
We face a massive challenge in our personal life, in our church ministry, and in terms of the need of a lost nation and world.
It is easy to feel daunted. We need to remember that we have a great God.
Our confidence is not in ourselves. Our confidence is only in Him. We are weak but our God is great.
The task we have is to teach the gospel to make disciples. But we can only make disciples if we are made disciples.
My notes from John Stevens’ teaching on Titus 3 at the FIEC Leaders’ Conference 2015.
Our Hope: Trusting God’s Grace
Paul encourages Titus to teach the gospel and as the gospel is taught and people become godly it will lead them to doing good.
The call to Christians as disciples is to do good. People must learn to devote themselves to doing good.
Ministry is about teaching the gospel so people are taught to say “no” to ungodliness and be devoted to doing good.
1. What does it mean to be devoted to doing good?
Answer – doing good is using our resources of time and money to benefit others and meet their needs.
It is a deliberately generalised expression, but is about actions and activities not attitudes.
It is doing good in the ordinary roles of our everyday lives. It doesn’t require organised projects.
2. Who should we do good to?
Answer – everyone.
Including our enemies and those who are hostile to us. The focus here in Titus 3 is on those outside of the church.
False teaching was leading people to withdraw from the world to be godly. Paul says the opposite.
The gospel in the end leads you to do good to everyone. The goal of doing good is to commend the gospel to those who are unbelievers.
We are not saved by good works, but we are saved for good works.
Good works aren’t gospel ministry but they are the fruit and should be the inevitable fruit of gospel ministry.
3. Why should we do good to everyone?
Answer – because of what God has done for us.
Two reasons why we might not do good: i) The people we are doing good to don’t deserve it; ii) it won’t make any difference.
The gospel overcomes both of these reasons. The gospel motivates us to do good.
The gospel reminds us what we were. You were once like the people you are called to do good for.
The gospel reminds us what God has done for us. He is a God of mercy who does not treat us as we deserve.
The gospel reminds us how God has utterly transformed us. Remember how we’ve been changed and transformed. God can do that for others.
The gospel reminds us what God has in store for us.
People motivated by the gospel to doing good where God has put them may lead to the world seeing the different the gospel makes and give opportunities to speak of the hope we have.
Good works makes the gospel attractive.
My notes from John Stevens’ teaching on Titus 2 at the FIEC Leaders’ Conference 2015.
Our Goal – Teaching Godly Living
We make disciples in a particular context. The context of our fallen humanity, and the context of our particular culture.
Paul is writing to Titus to urge him to make disciples by teaching the gospel so lives are transformed and these transformed lives commend the gospel to the unbelieving world and they would hear of Jesus the Saviour of the world.
One of the things the gospel does is produce godly people. The production of godly lives is an emphasis that needs to be recovered. Godliness is the essence of Christian life and the goal of our Christian ministry.
We need to teach the gospel so that it will produce godliness.
1. Who should we teach?
Answer is quite simply – everyone!
Titus is to make sure all of the groups (older men, older women, younger men, younger women, slaves) are taught the gospel.
Every single person is to be taught the gospel so they are furthered in their faith.
2. What should we teach?
Answer is – godliness!
Godliness is the summary of what teaching the gospel will produce.
Godliness is reverent fear for God that produces devoted serve to Him. To be godly is to be reverent and to be devoted to God’s service. This leads to a life of self control not dominated by passions and desires of the world.
Godliness is practiced in ordinary everyday lives – in the home and at work.
Are we equipping people for godliness in their everyday lives?
3. How do we teach?
Answer is – we don’t teach godliness directly.
We teach godliness by teaching the gospel and the gospel teaches people to be godly.
There are competing alternatives:
a) Legalism: teaching rules and demand human effort.
b) Antinomianism: teaching nothing about how to live.
c) Expulsivism: gain better passions and desires.
There is truth in each of them but not the complete picture.
Teach the grace of God in fullness so people are taught to say to no to ungodliness. That’s how we make disciples. Teach that to everyone so live godly lives at home or at work.
My notes from John Stevens’ teaching on Titus 1 at the FIEC Leaders’ Conference 2015.
Our Task – Furthering People’s Faith
We are bombarded with ideas about what we could or should do in our ministries.
Our task and ministry is to grow the church by making disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our task is to grow gospel-driven churches by planting new churches and growing and revitalising existing churches.
How are we to do that?
In Titus, Paul is writing to his ministry colleague Titus about how to minister so that the church will grow. His great concern is that churches on the island of Crete will grow. Paul wants the churches to continue to grow and have a greater gospel impact so communities are reached with the good news of Jesus.
What do we learn from Titus about how to make disciples?
The big thing is to teach the gospel.
It is the gospel that will transform the lives of believers, and transformed lives commend the gospel to unbelievers so that they will come to share in salvation.
In Titus 1 we have three basics for disciple-making ministries.
1. Titus is to teach the gospel
Titus is to follow the same pattern of ministry that Paul models. Paul’s ministry as an apostle to existing churches and existing Christians was to further the faith of God’s elect and knowledge of truth that leads to godliness.
Teaching the gospel has two effects: i) godliness and ii) devotion to doing good works.
We are to be speaking the gospel truth with clarity, urgency, authoritatively, emotionally and persuasively.
2. Titus is to appoint elders who will teach the gospel
The leaders that churches need are leaders capable of teaching the gospel – men of godly character and gifting, who hold firmly to the gospel and who are able to teach the gospel.
3. Titus is to teach false teachers who are denying the gospel
Churches facing the problem of false teachers need them to be corrected or silenced.
False teachers are not to be written off immediately. They are to be rebuked and encourage with a view to them becoming sound in the faith.
The work of ministry is teaching the gospel.
My personal highlight of the FIEC Leaders’ Conference was Paul Mallard’s message on Psalm 32. A great way to spend 37 minutes of your time!
Last Sunday we sang a great new song at Banstead Community Church that I learnt at the FIEC Leaders Conference written by Colin Webster and Phil Moore from Cornerstone Church in Nottingham.
Holy Father rich in mercy, holy Saviour rich in grace;
Great in glory everlasting, how I long to see your face.
Lead me to your new creation, lead me to your throne of love;
Giving glory to the Father, to the Spirit and the Son.
Jesus Christ our risen Saviour, Shepherd of the weak and lost;
Author of our great salvation through the power of the cross.
Lead from glory into glory, safely held by arms of love;
So to dwell with you forever, bringing praises to our God.
Giving glory to the Father, giving glory to the Son,
Giving glory to the Spirit; the blessed three in one.
Holy Spirit breath of heaven, make me holy through your word;
Break the chains of sin’s destruction, fix my eyes upon you Lord.
When I wander from your safety, when I wander from your truth,
Draw me back to my Redeemer, through the Holy fire of God.
My notes from the morning session on Day 4 of the FIEC Leaders’ Conference. John Stevens was preaching from Ephesians 6:10-20.
We have forgotten that to follow Christ is to fight. We mustn’t forget this. And this is where the letter of Ephesians ends with the reminder that Christians are in a war, a battle, and they are going to have to fight.
We need to know that the power of God is available to us to fight, stand and triumph, and the way the power of God is realised and applied is through the ministry of the gospel and prayer. That’s what Paul wants these Christians to grasp.
Paul gives three imperatives in Ephesians 6:10-20:
1. Put on the full armour of God (v10-13)
This is a call to get ready for battle. Put on all the equipment you need to go out onto the front line. You’ve got to clothe yourself in the full equipment God has provided for the spiritual battle. Don’t be caught out of your equipment.
Why? Because we are in a spiritual battle against devil and his forces who are trying to disrupt God’s plans and harm God’s people. Yes, Jesus has been enthroned, but spiritual forces are still active in this world. There is a spiritual struggle we are involved in. We’re involved in hand to hand combat with the spiritual forces of evil.
The battle for unity in the church is a spiritual battle. The battle for godly living is a spiritual battle.
What hope have we got? Our hope is in the power of God. God has provided the full equipment that we need.
2. Stand firm in the full armour of God (v14-17)
God provides everything we need to win the victory. The armour given is both for protection and fighting. The protection is the blessings of the gospel that are outlined for us in chapter 1 of Ephesians. The weapons we fight with are the gospel message and the gospel ministry.
The picture is of every Christian being fitted to proclaim the good news of God’s coming kingdom. The Holy Spirit brings power to the Word of the gospel as he convicts, converts, challenges and change people.
Appropriating the gospel and proclaiming the gospel in the power of the Spirit is how we fight this battle. God never sends us into battle, into the front line ill equipped.
What does winning look like? Winning may not look glorious in the eyes of the world. Victory is recognising that God’s grace is sufficient and God’s power is at work in weakness and keeps on going in his ministry of the gospel.
3. Pray in the Spirit to use the full armour of God (v18-20)
All Christians have received the Spirit. All Christian prayer is in the Spirit. This is just what we would call prayer.
Pray for 2 things:
Pray for each other to fight the spiritual battle. A vital reminder that we fight this battle not alone but together. We so often individualise it. We must not and should not be fighting it alone.
Are you going to keep praying for people in the church? Are you going to keep on praying for other local churches?
Pray for yourself. Paul asks for prayer for himself. He needs prayer because he needs to stand, to put on the full armour. He needs prayer that he will engage in his gospel ministry and preach the good news of Jesus. He needs God’s power through the prayers of God’s people.
We have a responsibility to fight for our flock and lead them in fight. Don’t think something has gone wrong because we are in a battle and we are called to fight.
We are a tiny minority. We need this confidence in the power of God. Confidence that this power will enable us to stand and win the victory. God has provided all we need in the blessings we have in the gospel and the message of the gospel that we proclaim and apply.
Go back to your churches and fight. It will be tough but God’s power will enable us to stand and triumph and His purpose to be accomplished.
We didn’t follow Christ just for the fun and for the fulfilment. We follow Christ also to fight. But the victory will be won and God gives us the power to stand and to triumph.
Here are my notes from the third of three seminars led by Andrew Heard on ‘Growing Churches and Keeping Them Growing’. The focus was on building a mission minded church.
8 things to remember when building a mission minded church:
8. Face Realities (a) – the myths
Myth #1: Every Christian will evangelise.
Myth #2: Training in evangelism is the answer.
Myth #3: 6/7 weeks of Follow-up is enough.
Myth #4: The big event will do mission for you.
Myth #5: This course or that course will be the answer.
Myth #6: The Minister can run evangelism.
Myth #7: Postmodernism has changed everything.
Myth #8: Personal evangelism is more powerful than event evangelism.
1. Own where the power is – God and his gospel
2. Think bigger – look out not in
Keep looking at the fields (the community) not the barns (the church). If you look in the barn you will think and structure too small.
Do triage – find the low fruit, and then work way up to the higher fruit. If you are thinking nationally go for areas of low fruit; then in hard areas go for low fruit there. Build a foundation to reach the hardest place.
3. Mobile everybody
Capture every person with a vision for the lost. Every single person must understand what we are about.
Why aren’t people missioning? Lack of conviction – about eternity, heaven and hell, grace; Lack of confidence – skill, afraid won’t handle whatever come.
Take responsibility to fix the problem. God put you there to prayerfully fix it.
Start with the Word ministries. Keep an eternal perspective in the way we preach. So often preaching is like the safety talk on airplane. Imagine giving it to a on plane on fire.
When you plan your year calendar – always start with mission. The best time to go fishing is when you’ll most likely to catch fish. Find out when the best time of year to fishing for souls and talking the gospel and plan the church calendar around this.
Demonstrate to the church that people can get converted by running testimonies.
4. Mobile the group
Do mission together. Requires a shift from the family to body metaphor the church where each part does a different work.
Set things up so people of 60-70% can be useful.
Do evangelistic services – never do it once because people forget.
Build structure to help people get friends.
5. Create quality gospel delivery
6. Create quality follow up process
Invest long term into it.
7. Create easy pathways into church
8. Face Realities (b)
Minister cannot do this alone. How have you possibly got time to create a quality gospel delivery, follow up and train, and preach well. You can’t.
Own it, be realistic, you must build a team. You have to learn how to lead people to change into spiritual growth into ministry, lead leaders, thinking strategically, to problem solve.
My notes from the evening session on Day 3 of the FIEC Leaders’ Conference. Bobby Warrenburg was preaching from Psalm 34.
Every single person has a hunger for transcendence. The greatest gift our church can offer the world is the gift of praise and worship.
Psalm 34 is all about praise and worship.
1. The Context of Worship
The most striking feature of this psalm is the context in which it was written. If ever there was a low point for David, it had to be this moment when he pretend to be insane, a mad man before Abimelech. Yet it was on that precise occasion that David crafts this song for us and says taste and see that the Lord is good.
This Psalm was written by a sufferer and written for sufferers. Paul Miller wrote an honest and practical book on prayer and within it he writes about the promises God making not matching up with everyday life. How do we respond to this?
People often respond by trying to close the gap. They deny the problem or they are determined to fix the problem. Both of these are ways to take the reality line and push it up to the promise line. Alternatively to disengage, to say I’ve had it, I don’t see God at work in my life.
David is not doing any of those things. He’s not becoming cynical on one hand or denying on the other hand. He is honest about the suffering we go through (v4, 19) He’s speaking to God and going after God.
How does he manage that? How does David live with this gap?
2. The Core of Worship
In verse 1-3 several words unpack nature of worship. Extol – recognising God’s power. Glorify – enlarging magnifying God’s greatness. These are words that add texture and colour to worship.
One word gets to the essence of what worship is – boast (v2). Boast is not a word you use everyday. Not a great thing to be a boaster.
Boast is a reflexive verb, that is, a verb when you do the action and receive the action. For example – shaving, sleeping, forgetting, washing. Boast is that kind of word.
Boasting in the Lord is not so much as giving honour, glory, value, esteem – it is about where you get those things and receive those things. Boasting is building your identity on [Blank]. The reason David can go through the loss of everything, is because as good of those things are, they are not the basis of David’s identity, that how he can be this man of boasting all the time.
Paul Tripp writes about how pastors are constantly evangelising ourselves about where we find significance, well-being, and if you don’t get them from your union with Christ you will seek them horizontally in the ministry you have.
How do we re-orient that?
David wants the truth we understand to be truth we stand under. You will never know that Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. God breaks the schemes of our earthly joy so we find our all in him. So we build our identity on the Lord.
3. The Composite of Worship
In verses 11 to 22 there is a shift. David stops from singing a hymn to preaching a sermon.
What it looks like to have this lifestyle of worship? The expectation is that it is going to be really hard. David is sharing all his experiences.
One verse that David doesn’t know anything about is verse 20. He protects all of his bones and not one of them is broken. When a Jewish person dies, their family gathers the bones and puts them in the tomb, saying our hope is in the Lord. They are trusting the bones to God. David hadn’t done that yet – he’s writing this psalm.
There was a king, a sufferer who entrusted his bone to the Lord. In John 19 the soldiers don’t need to break bones because he’s already dead. Apostle John saw this psalm not just as a description of David, but a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If you had been there on that day that Jesus was crucified, and stood at foot of the cross, and looked up you would not have said that this was God keeping his promises. That’s the gap between promises and reality. And yet that precise moment God is achieving the greatest salvation in history. At that moment God is closing the gap between promise and reality.
How do you know that God isn’t doing the same thing in your life? How do you know that this suffering is not God doing something beautiful in your life?
Sometimes in the deepest darkest places you can find the Lord but you can also find people who boast in Him.
Here are my notes from the second of three seminars led by Andrew Heard on ‘Growing Churches and Keeping Them Growing’. The focus was on the skills needed to build with the foundation.
It doesn’t just matter how you play the game, it matters that you win or lose.
Skills are important – here are 4 areas of skills you need to develop.
1. Learn to lead yourself
This leadership principle drives everything.
To be effective pastors it is critical that we learn to lead ourselves to manage our time and priorities.
When you say “yes” to something it always implies saying “no” to something else. You’ve only got so many hours in your week. Fill up your diary before others fill it up for you. This will mean that when things come up that you say “yes” to, you will know what you are saying “no” to.
Stuff that falls into the category of important but not urgent is the key stuff that will change your ministries in the years to come.
Take charge to carve out time to work out your diary. Think about what you are doing and what matters most.
If we are going to reach the world – we need to stop being at the mercy of every bleeding sheep. Use your time well.
2. Learn to do the core ministries
Learn to lead other people so that you make the difference God wants you to make in their lives. For them to grow and change so they grow spiritually.
Analyse where people are at spiritually and proactively move them on. The church will rise or fall on your ability to make a different in people’s lives.
Have you seen people get the gospel under your ministry? Have you seen people change under your ministry? Are you seeing significant change?
We are to be more like a surgeon than a casualty doctor. A casualty doctor waits for people to come and then treats them, the surgeon identifies a problem, puts people through pain to get them better. We are to create pain to bring about healing.
Learn to lead other people into ministries. Until you learn to lead others into ministry you won’t grow the multipliers to increase the work. Recruit, inspire, train and delegate. Bring people into ministry not by announcing a need but by presenting a vision. Speak in the context of eternity. Give people an opportunity to see how they can make a difference. Talk about the big picture and how this ministry fits in – if you don’t know why it matters, don’t ask them.
In the USA, it is said that 10% of people in churches do ministry, 50% don’t want to, and 40% want to but don’t know how to.
3. Learn to build an organisation
Learn to lead leaders. Leaders don’t do a job, they have an outcome to achieve. Give people responsibility for an outcome and the freedom to do things in a way to achieve this outcome. That way the person isn’t doing a job but owning an outcome.
This will require a shift in values for you. You get a new value. It is now not about me getting into lives and seeing people changed, but others getting into people’s lives and seeing them changed.
It is a shift from shepherd to rancher.
Shepherd personally cares for sheep. Rancher is concerned that each sheep has a shepherd and that the shepherd is doing the task well.
It means letting go. It means rejoicing in giving away power and authority. It will require you learning how to run meetings with high level leaders, learning how to use your voice; learning how to manage capable and competent people; learning how to manage your reactions; learning how to manage yourself socially.
You’ll also need to think strategically. To value the whole work not just your part in it. You are the manager of the shepherds as the church size moves from the family metaphor to body metaphor of church.
You’ll need to analyse the whole work and think about how this whole system works.
You’ll need to think long term. The next 20 years not the next 6 months.
You’ll need to think about what your priorities are. You’ve only got 60 hours a week – how are you going to apportion your time?
4. Learn to problem solve
You’ll need to work out how to get from A to B in environment of change.
My notes from the morning session on Day 3 of the FIEC Leaders’ Conference. John Stevens was preaching from Ephesians 3:14-21.
Paul is writing to Christians to encourage them to have confidence in God – that despite their experiences God is the all-powerful sovereign who is in control and His power is available to them.
In Ephesians 3:14-21 we learn that the purpose of this incomparable power of God is so that God’s people will grasp the immensity of the love of Christ. Is that what you would expect the power of God to do?
These verses are the central turning point of the letter and the bridge from indicative to imperative, and from encouragement to exhortation, and the central theme is power.
Paul is praying for God’s power to be at work in these people, churches, amongst these Christians, and Paul tells them what He is praying for them. Do you tell your congregation what you are praying for them? Do our congregations know our priorities for them expressed in our praying?
1. We need God’s power to grasp the immensity of Christ’s love (3:14-19)
By nature we are weak, but God wants to make us powerful through His power by the Spirit and the result is so that they will grasp the immensity of the love that Christ has shown. To know this love that surpasses knowledge.
Paul is praying for them to know that cannot be known in its fullest extent. It can always be known more. Something they will never known fully and completely, that they will keep on growing to know it better, but this is what they need. And if that is what they needed, it is what we also need.
Why is it so important that we grasp the immensity of the love of Christ?
The love of Christ is foundation of our salvation. Salvation begins with the love of God revealed in Christ.
The love of Christ is the basis of church unity (2:11-3:13). In the immediately preceding section Paul has been talking about the unity of the church in Christ. Jewish and Gentile people are being united in the church by Christ by faith. The dividing wall is being removed and peace is being brought about.
The prayer follows on the theme of unity. There is one Father and from him come many nations. Grasping something of the immensity of the love of Christ enables the deep divisions to be overcome. Christ’s love is essential if this unity is to be maintained. It is the unity of the church that makes the power of God visible to the powers around as the reconciliation with God and with one another is brought about.
Our culture in the UK is massively divided and deep alienated from one another whether it be by class, culture, ethnicity and so on. It is incredibly difficult to overcome these divisions. We basically get on best with those who are like us. The gospel overcomes these divisions.
If we are going to be united, we need to grasp the immensity of the love of Christ. If we want to have real unity, it is not enough to tolerate those who are different or respect those who are different or to welcome them as long as they don’t change the culture. We are called to love with the love of Christ. That is what we must do. That is what we need the power of God to do.
The love of Christ is the essence of Christian live and life (4:1-6:9). Love is the essence of the Christian life.
Ephesians 5:1-2 says “Walk in the way of love” – the love demonstrated in the Lord Jesus. As we grasp the love of Christ and practice the love of Christ, the glory of God is made known and manifested among us.
This supreme love is supremely demonstrated at the cross. That is where the width, length, height, and depth is made known. If we want to grasp it, we need to look to the cross. Love at the cross is love to that which is wicked and deserves the wrath of God. When love is spoken of it is the cross that is spoken of as the example.
Immensity of Christ’s love is seen in the cross and that is what we need God’s power to grasp. We cannot grasp that without grasping the holy wrath of God. Love of Christ is diminished if we do not see the wrath of God towards sin. Love is death of Christ for sinners against the background of God’s wrath.
Paul wants us to know that we need the power of God to grasp the immensity of Christ’s love.
2. We can be sure that God is able to answer our prayer to know the immensity of God’s love (3:20-21)
The God who hears this prayer is able to answer this prayer. To him who is able, powerful, to do immeasurably more than what we can ask or imagine. We can’t imagine what God is capable of doing. The God of immense power is able to do that and more than that.
Be reassured that this power is already at work. We’ve experienced it in being rescued from sin.
Paul wants church to know that this prayer will be answered and fulfilled. He will be glorified in his church for all eternity. The power of God will accomplish this.
This presents a challenge to the danger of low expectations of what God can do. Low expectation of unity of Christ. Low expectation of transformation to likeness of Christ. Low expectation of the church revealing God’s glory.
The God of the Bible doesn’t say guess how much I love you; He says see how much I love and pray that you will understand how much I really love you.