Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Articles, Magazines, Sermons, Conferences

I love reading articles, blogs, reflections and anything where people are expressing their feelings and offering some insight or opinion on a certain subject.  Literally, I read dozens of articles with catchy titles in hope that I might actually uncover something earth-shattering that will either change my circumstance, spirituality or ministry.  We all read to feel inspired or to hear another's story but at what point does all the words and crafting of prose actually lead to change or initiation?

A lot of the things we read are usually just affirmations on what we believe or have heard.  We rarely want to read anything that opposes our views and then we just build up our walls (preconceived notions) even higher. In all the written pieces I have read, I have barely changed my mind on a subject or actually done something as a result of reading said material.  Also, when we go to church or even attend a conference, we may feel awfully inspired by the words and presentations but still our behavior remains unchanged.

One website that I frequent is Fresh Expressions. Why? Because they write articles about what people are actually doing and was has or has not worked for them.  This is what gets my blood running and inspires me to be a better leader in the Church. "Actions speak louder than words." "Put your money where your mouth is." "Practice what you preach.": These are all statements that we use in Church circles because we want to see work being done in the world to further the ministry of Jesus Christ.

Now I am certain that this article, like the many before and after it, will lead to little change in the world but through all the saturation of opinion and story telling I want you to turn inspiration into action. Easier said than done; I understand, but what will it take for us to make that step which leads to change?

In church, we ask a lot about what we can do to be a healthier community of believers or how we can reach out to those in need.  We need to stop answering that question by placing boundaries on God's will and have the faith to take risks. Get out of your comfort zone, try something new, make new connections with others, stop saying "we have tried that before", quit giving excuses and trust that by following God's lead we will be a better and more productive community of disciples.

I get asked many questions about church planting since I am involved in the Church Planting Initiative at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Frequently the purpose behind the question is "what is the secret to getting started?".  My answer is usually the same "When the Holy Spirit moves through you in your discernment, follow its lead."  Take risks, be bold in God's calling for you life, gather around people that have discerned a similar vision and trust that God will provide.

The next time you read an article and feel inspired to do something. Do it.  Your routine of life will be broken up for a small period of time but the consequences of your actions can be ground breaking.  Peter and the disciples took many risks when they preached the Gospel in a hostile environment but they were sustained in their ministry.  Sure they had a few bumps in the road but they followed the Holy Spirit as they went about growing the Church in the earliest days.

God has instilled in our hearts the ability and will to change, we just have to follow that lead.

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