Calling is the context of a healthy relationship with God. Throughout the biblical narrative of God’s relationship with his people, he is always calling them to a purpose. One of the dangers of lockdown is a loss of the sense of our calling because it can be difficult to plan or do anything.
Recently, I have repeatedly felt God say to me,
‘draw near to me, abide in me, remain in me.’
In doing so, I have been comforted, warmed by his love and care, and reminded of his call. This combination of comfort and call is typical of how God deals with his people in times of trial. So much of scripture records God’s dealings with his people at times trouble and suffering. Bringing comfort and call is what God does: sometimes more comfort, sometimes more call. Following the news of another lockdown, I have needed more comfort. But so often through lockdown, I have felt God remind me of call. In response, I have had to continually give him my ‘yes’, even if it’s not clear right now, because of all the uncertainty, precisely what that ‘yes’ means.
Jesus is calling us as individuals and as a church family. As St John’s, we are on an adventure of faith. It’s an adventure God has called us to and one on which he is accompanying and leading us. Its an adventure of preaching the Gospel, proclaiming the kingdom, making disciples, planting churches, loving, serving, and playing our part in transforming communities. How might God be calling you to be part of this adventure?
Before getting into more of that, the first thing I want to say is a massive thank you for everyone. So many people have given time, energy and money in so many different ways over these last months. Your serving has meant people have been cared for, our Foodbank has continued to run and much more besides. Your giving has kept us alive at a time when the economy is shrinking. THANK YOU.
As we look forwards, I want to suggest to you four possible ways God might be calling you to get involved…
Is God calling you to Press into Prayer?
If this season is one of pruning or ‘Winter’ in which the work God is doing is beneath the surface in preparation for the new life that is coming, prayer is the practice that connects most clearly with this. I love the story of James Fraser, a missionary to the Lisu people in the Himalayan region of China.
Because of heavy snow, he could not visit small groups of new Christians in mountain villages and so for the winter period he simply prayed for them. When the snow melted, he returned, expecting to find that they had given up on their faith. Instead, he discovered vibrant church communities that had grown during that period (Mountain Rain).
We will not know the full results of our prayers during this time, but we can be sure that God hears them and uses them in the work of his kingdom coming. This is a time to dig deeper into God so that in the future, we can go further when we have the freedom to.
As Oswald Chambers wrote;
“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work, prayer is the greater work”.
We can respond to the call to pray individually, you don’t need church to do anything – what would it look like for you to press into prayer? Why not make time on your own to pray daily or arrange to meet regularly with 1-2 others to pray. If you are in a homegroup, explore with them how the group can pray, go for socially distanced prayer walks? Let us know if you want any help with this.
Jon Tearne is praying weekly on a Monday morning for St Peter’s in Oadby – why don’t you spend some time on Monday morning doing the same?
Called to go! - St Peter’s
Talking of St Peters, could it be that you are called to go? Is God speaking to you about St Peter’s about going with Jon and Beth to pioneer something? Do you get excited by the idea of building something from scratch, for example, a new service for young families on a Sunday afternoon or Alpha? If you feel this might be the case, come and talk to us. Or if you are not being called to go, are you called to give or to pray?
Called to stay! – St John’s
Are you feeling called to invest more in the life of St John’s? It may be difficult to see how, when so much of everyday church life is not possible. The Commitment card gives many ideas about how to get involved.
Or are you called to give? Sunday was Gift day, and we are asking people to give.
Firstly, I want to say again a massive thank you for your faithfulness in giving this year despite lockdown – your faithfulness has kept things alive. As long as there is a good response to this gift day, we are on track to break-even this year, but things remain precarious, and it is challenging to attract growth during this time.
Secondly, we recognise that giving is a sensitive area for some, especially right now. In the area of finances right now, some need to know God’s comfort. For some, financial insecurity is an anxiety-inducing reality. If that’s you, we stand with you, and my prayer is that you will know God’s peace and provision. For others, we need to know God’s challenge and call with giving. For some of us, lockdown has meant we have more money than usual. Could it be that God is prompting you to be generous?
At best, generosity and giving is an infectiously joyful habit. It’s a way of expressing our thanks and worship in response to God’s overwhelming goodness by blessing others. God gave his all to us in sending his son Jesus, we give back to him.
Giving can be sacrificial – when we say ‘yes’ to give, we are saying ‘no’ to spending money on other things. We are called to give from the first fruits: give and then decide what to spend money on, not the other way around. Love and worship that doesn’t cost us anything are not love and worship at all.
We give because the call of God to the church family is to make disciples, plant churches and love, serve and transform communities. We are all part of this, and we all contribute towards it, and it costs money!
But there is never a guilt trip with giving. We are not telling you to give, we are asking you to pray and respond to what God is saying to you. I believe God calls all of us to be generous, but what generosity looks like from person to person will vary. Some may not be able to give or will give small amounts because that is all they can. Others will give much more. Some I believe have a particular grace for sacrificial giving. What is important is that we all say ‘yes’ to God for ourselves. So is God calling you to:
·Start regular giving even if just a small amount. Regular giving is the most helpful form of giving as it helps us to plan and budget.
Increase what you give regularly.
Give a one-off gift today on top of your regular giving.
I believe there might be one or two people who feel called to give in a very significant way. There are two significant initiatives we are making right now that need financial investment. We are asking you to give towards them:
Firstly, we are appointing an Operations Director. Operations might not be the most exciting area of church and mission. Still, we are utterly convinced that it is crucial to what God is doing here. The Operations Director is missional in itself in terms of making so much of what we do centrally possible. Also, and crucially, the Operations Director releases church leadership to be able to invest time and energy into evangelism, discipleship and raising up pioneering leaders. It will cost £80-90k for three years to pay for the Operations Director. Is there someone who might in one go be willing to pay 6 months or 12 months of the salary or contribute a small or large monthly amount towards it?
Secondly, we are planting st peter’s and that will take money.
The PCC of St John’s does, of course, take the responsibility to manage our finances diligently and in line with our vision and values very carefully.