Ordinary Work, Extraordinary Gospel (Local Conferences 2022)
It was great to gather with 20 or so pastors from all around Cumbria and Lancashire at the FIEC Local Conference in Kendal, something we’ve not done for a few years now.
It was a joy to catch up with old friends and be introduced to some new. It was very encouraging to hear about how churches are growing and changing, plans which are beginning to form, and new building projects in the pipeline.
God is building his kingdom, in the power of the Holy Spirit, through his word in Jesus - we have so much to give thanks for.
The extraordinary ordinary
The day started with time spent in Zechariah 4, reflecting on how a demoralised people - the Jewish nation returning from exile - had come to a standstill with an ambitious rebuild of the temple.
But we also pondered how God had got them moving again by his word to them, through the prophets. And how it seemed as though the people, led by Zerubbabel, had a mountain to climb but, by taking small steps, getting on with the ordinary jobs, and trusting God, the people would overcome and the temple would be rebuilt.
We were challenged to think how our example as pastors to weary, possibly disheartened people could bring comfort, hope, and inspiration, as we just get on with shepherding the flock. And although obstacles will arise and may seem insurmountable, growth and new life are only ever a work of the Holy Spirit.
So, what we can do is get on with the ordinary, knowing that the power of the Holy Spirit will be at work - he who was sent by our Great High Priest, Jesus, our King who reigns eternally.
It was a great reminder that although earthly kingdoms will pass away, God’s kingdom will remain. That although the work may seem ordinary, we have an extraordinary gospel to proclaim.
Leading by example
Following a short time of prayer, we were given time and space to think about how we might equip folk in our churches to be available in the ordinary pursuits of life, with the aim of being able to share gospel hope to others.
It was great to hear thoughts and ideas from church leaders across the country - whether they are leading by example by spending time at the school gate to get to know others, visiting a local cafe regularly to be available in the community, or even freeing up time in the church programme to allow members to be able to use their varied giftings to reach out in a similar way.
We also spent time thinking about how we as pastors can set the example in getting the gospel out to those around us. I was greatly encouraged to hear what folk are up to and took heart that some of the challenges they faced were like the ones I experience. Gospel work is often an endurance test that requires a great deal of patience as we seek to move folk one step closer to Jesus.
That consistency, time, and effort over an extended period will lead to folk getting to know us better and hopefully, in turn, Jesus.
Many thanks to Parr Street Church, Kendal, for hosting us and providing a delicious pie and pea lunch! And thanks to Andy Hunter - FIEC’s Director for Scotland and the North of England - for leading us through our time together.
We continue to pray that we’d make much of the Lord Jesus so that his never-failing kingdom would indeed grow, to the praise of his glory.