Tuesday, April 03, 2007

1 Chron 12:32 Report, 38: 'Full Hundred" -- mobilising all of God's people under our mandate through the "fulness" theme of Eph 1 - 4

Astute readers will have noticed that, over the past few days, I have only spoken in terms of so-called "full time" [FT] workers in the mission of the church in and from the Caribbean.

Thus, so far we have developed an estimate of FT missions potential: [1] 1 in 100 as FT, this being [2] tithed to the overseas mission field, and [3] backed up by finances from within the region estimated at at one percent of the annual income of Christians across the region (using numbers of evangelicals as a crude proxy] and matched through extraregional partners.

However, this "misses" 99% of Christians in the region, and in light of the fulness theme in Ephesians 1 - 4 and related biblical teachings, we now need to bring in the 99%, to make up the "full hundred."

First, Eph 2:8 - 10:
. . . it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
This immediately of course embraces the process of repentance, renewal and transformation through basic discipleship under the scriptures in the power of the Spirit, through the working of the church. It embraces the world of life-transforming moral growth: virtues tied to love, truth and purity. Witness to our Lord and answering questions on the reasons for our hope and more are included. But, equally, there is an individual aspect to the challenge: each of us is called, gifted, prepared and placed in the body of Christ. This comes out in 1 Cor 12:
1CO 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good . . . 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines . . . . 1CO 12:14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many . . . . 1CO 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"
In short, each of us has a role to play in the church and the unity is just as important as the necessary diversity of functions and roles. Building on this, we see the overall goal and strategy -- through what can be called the operational form of the church's mandate:
. . . [God] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfilment -- to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.
(. . . He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe [panta -- all things].) It was he who gave some to be apostles . . . prophets . . . evangelists . . . pastors and teachers to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fulness of Christ . . . . speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together [i.e. united!] by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
I pray . . . that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand . . . And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fulness of him who fills everything in every way. [Eph. 1:9, 10, 4:9-16, 1:18-23, NIV.]
As our Risen Lord works to fill all things with his glory, he sends out his church among the nations, starting with what would be FT and/or "tent-making" workers: missionaries/apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These work to equip all of God's people so that we can all fulfill our own roles in the body, as it grows up in the image of its Head, through the truth in love as each of us does his/her work.

In practical terms, that means that we must first take a hard look on the different spheres of life -- individuality, family life and sexuality, education, business and work, arts and entertainment, sports, media, politics, community institutions etc -- in our communities:
1] If this "thing" were full of Jesus' grace and glory, what would it look like?

2] What does it look like now?

3] What can and should "I" or "we" do about it under God -- thus promoting repentance, renewal, revival and reformation?
Now, of course, one man's repentance and reformation is another man's rebuke. So, such initiatives will inevitably be resisted -- we are dealing with spiritual battles here, which must be bathed in prayer and the leading and anointing of God. And, yes, prayer and waiting on God's leading and anointing are extremely vital practical steps!

(NB: it is worth noting here, that one of the subtler reasons for sponsoring FT workers and associated ministries in our communities and on overseas mission fields is that that financial independence helps to protect such workers from economic retaliation for daring to speak God's truth to sinful, resentful centres of power. So, generous giving to such initiatives is one of he key ways to walk in good works laid out in advance for us. [I must pause and say a hearty thank-you to those who financially support those who labour in such retaliation-prone areas of service.])

That brings us full-circle to the first several MVAT action-steps, as we have discussed in this series already -- we are making progress through spiral learning loops here:
1] For such a time as this: our opportunity

2] Getting started: pulling together a circle of interest, discussion, study and prayer

3] The Antioch Timeline challenge: it's high time . . .

4] Working together: principles for working together under God, across our diverse church theologies and traditions . . . .

9] Getting organised: pulling together an MVAT team
By working through such a process, you should have a circle of committed believers, who, through prayer and God's leading and anointing, have identified local strategic points for action, have carried out awareness and activation seminars and have organised coordinated and supported action teams to carry the work forward. Such believers, of course may include some FT workers, but in light of the above, it stands to reason that most will not be FT workers.

Many may have but little experience with organising, coordinating and implementing projects. So a bit of a primer on basic planning and management will be helpful, also an overview on working in and leading small/cell groups, and especially a bit of exposure to Project Management 101 in a nutshell:
a] GAR: this is not just the name of a common fish, a local favourite here in Montserrat. Here we are thinking in terms of: GOALS, ACTION-STEPS, and input RESOURCES that allow us to achieve the goals.

b] GOALS: In light of opportunities and threats [or at least challenges], and our strengths and weaknesses -- the SWOT factors -- what are some desirable and achievable targets for the action team over a given period? What deliverable results will allow us to see that we have achieved the goals?

c] ACTION-STEPS: To reach to the goal starting from where we are, certain practical things have to be done in a coordinated, timely manner. For instance, a project plan may have to be drawn up, funding and other resources may have to be obtained, promotional work may have to be done, and a lot of other specifics that depend on the precise nature of the project. Coordination meetings are all but inevitable. And, more.

d] RESOURCES: Certain inputs are required to sustain the activities and yield the deliverable results as outputs that show that the goals are being achieved. Money, effort and time are three major examples.
"GAR" is therefore a useful summary of the key steps involved in carrying out such a project.

Next time, DV, let us begin to look on the vexed issue of fund-raising. END

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