'For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord….'

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A pastor’s toil (joy!)…

If you believe that the local church is God’s agent for reaching cities & communities with the gospel (we do at CCK), then you’ll also recognise the gifts that are given to the local church to accomplish this task.  Pastoring is one of them.

My tongue is firmly in my cheek as I use the word ‘toil’ in the title of this post………because I actually mean ‘joy’.

If you are a busy pastor (paid or unpaid) there is a reality that flocks need shepherding…… and it’s hard work!  So in one sense it certainly is toil.

But the joy I speak of (or satisfaction, thrill, pleasure) is the reward of hard labour (toil).  It’s the fruit of helping people to apply the gospel to their lives in an atmosphere of grace and accountability (Christian community).

The pastors joy comes when you see men & women :

~ allowing the truth of the gospel to shape their attitude & perspective on life

~ leaning on truth (of who they actually are in Christ) rather than lies that suggest otherwise

~ turning from consumers into cultivators & producers in the context of local church

Ok, for those of you ‘toiling away’, here are some great tips for practical pastoring.  Not originally my own, but nonetheless appreciated and implemented appropriately :

  • Beware ministry stereotypes
  • Be yourself
  • Remember the goal of pastoral ministry
  • Be full of the word and full of the spirit
  • Relate to people primarily on the basis of what you have personally seen, heard or discerned
  • Set boundaries when appropriate
  • Never make a vow of secrecy
  • Help people to take responsibility
  • Help people to take action
  • Check out the basics
  • Make use of resources
  • Know when you are getting out of your depth
  • Recognise there is rarely one key to a complex situation
  • Do not make promises you cannot keep, but keep the ones you do
  • Always take a suicide threat seriously
  • Do not see women alone

Credit goes to Steve Walford (fellow CCK elder). Check him out here…


By all means…(even the iphone)

‘Be all things to all men’.  That was the Apostle Paul’s recipe for communicating the good news of Jesus Christ.

At CCK we take engagement with our City very seriously.  The Brighton Marathon  is one example where we will be cancelling our two morning services and marshalling the event using 300 of our members.  This is how we build permissions and bridges for communicating the gospel.

Here’s another.  This one, however, has a global reach……we are about to submit an ‘app’, and the media have cottoned on to us!

Snow joke….

Cheesy title, I know.  But it was just to get you to check out this cracking little feature on my blog where you can actually make it snow!  Is it snowing yet??  Easily pleased you might say.  You’d be right, because I love snow, fake or otherwise.  It used to snow in Brighton when I were a lad, but not now (rev 18.12.09 – we had 4″ last night!)

I know people whose theologies stretch to praying for parking spaces (ooh, that was harsh!).  Well that prayer doesn’t work in Brighton (highest revenue-generating City for parking in the nation!) …………but I am unashamedly praying for snow!

Actually, it’s the mammouth carbon-footprints (of these exact same people who are trying to park in Brighton) that has put paid to any decent snow in the UK anymore!  They’ve raised the overall global temperature by a degree or two, so all we get is a bit of slush to throw at each other.

I’m always amazed by the fact that each flake is individual and unique from another.  A typical snowflake begins by forming around a speck of dust.  From this unassuming beginning, it grows into a tiny hexagonal prism, just a few microns in size.  The initial symmetry of the snowflake results from the intrinsic molecular structure of ice.

Utterly unique...

As the crystal grows, it’s often blown about in the sky.  The air and temperature around the crystal are constantly changing.  Snowflakes are extremely sensitive, and even a small change in these conditions can lead to different growth patterns.

The final shape of the crystal reflects these growth conditions. The longer the snowflake is blown about in the skies, the more complex the resulting snow crystal.  No two crystals have the same history so they don’t grow in the same way.  As a result, no two have ever been the same, or ever will be.  Amazing!  With my biblical worldview, it motivates me to worship.  Simple as that.

To really appreciate the beauty of snow, try the Alps.  Or leave my blog open on your laptop and enjoy the flurry!

Rather stunning!

Fight for it…

Fighting for your ‘men’ is something we chaps are absolutely wired for. (Do read on ladies….you need to know what we are like!).  Just take a brief moment to read this chaps short story.

What can we draw from his experience?  He got awarded the Military Cross for going in to save his mates when all looked lost.  He risked life and limb (and got injured) for his men……..the guys that he’d toiled with, trained with, laughed with, served with.

Let’s not pretend that all situations will measure up to the gravity of this guys experience, but don’t think we can’t draw any parallels.  At CCK we have just launched a third Sunday service.  If you are reading this and consider CCK as your home church, then be like this guy.  (In fact, if you are in any church that is working hard to build an ‘Alternative City’ within a city for Jesus, then apply this to your situation too).

Throw yourself into serving it, get right behind the leadership (and let them know it!), contributing to the ‘life’ of the church.  That means taking responsibility for every aspect (welcome, kids work, admin/tech, meeting participation, pastoral stuff), the whole lot!

Reminds me of ‘David’s Mighty Men’.  Awesome chaps who were right in the scrum for their man David.  Are you right in the scrum for the guys that lead you?

It will cost you something, and you’re bound to take a knock or two.  You certainly won’t get awarded a Military Cross!  But there is immense joy to be had in all this.  There is nothing sweeter than tasting real oneness with folk who are as passionate as you about the same thing.  It was like that for David and his mighty men, and the disciples must have experienced the phenomenal buzz of being on mission with Jesus.

Speaking of which……..Jesus went into the ultimate fight for us, extracting us from certain death, getting a cross of his own in the process from which we all benefit.

Being on mission means you must fight….so fight.

All good?

Hilariously, but also with great poignancy, I need to recount to you a recent exchange between a guest and one of our pastoral team on a Sunday at CCK.  Pastor: ‘Hello there, all good?’  Guest: ‘What, since the day of my birth? No, not really!’

Having had this repeated to me by the pastor in question, I began to appreciate it in a number of ways :

Firstly, for its comedic value…. which was priceless, and made even funnier because of who the pastor is (a chap of the finest quality!).  The quick-witted retort of the guest, the twinkle in the eye, and the flash of needle in the use of words, putting most TV sitcom writers to shame.

Secondly, the reality of life hits hard….  The humour of the moment (for me anyway) was only a thin veil over hard truth. You’re born, you live, you die.  ‘We are like grass that withers and dies…’  Here one moment, gone the next.  And the bit in between is tough going.  This guest had realised this the hard way.  ‘All good?  You must be kidding!’

Thirdly, the brutal honesty of the guest….  I love it when folk speak truth out loud!  We are always thinking it, but often speaking it through filters that utterly disguise it.  That’s why it’s so refreshing when people tell it how it is.  Brutal.  ‘All good?  No, actually my life has been rubbish for as long as I can remember.’ 

Fourthly, it gave me a sharp poke in the ribs about how we live in a seriously post-christian (or should I say ‘pagan’) culture with 90% of folk out there with no clue about Jesus, let alone the gospel!  If we (CCK) are to reach our prophetic promise of a church of thousands in this City, we cant afford to sell the gospel short by pretending that a response on a Sunday will result in a life of health and wealth.  Nope, it aint true.  Jesus said it himself.  ‘In this world you will have trouble…’ 

The more I get my teeth into pastoral work, the more understanding I get of the great weights folk are carrying through life.  Are these situations just, or unjust?  A good question to ask yourself.  Much of the ‘weight’ we carry is directly or indirectly as a result of our own poor choices.  But some of it is seemingly unjust, inflicted on us for reasons we cannot explain.  Sometimes we will never know why we suffered, but how we handle it hangs on our perspective of the character of God.  Who do we know Him to be?  Do we correctly understand our own ill-deserving nature? Are we fully aware of the far reaching mercy of God to rescue us?  Can we say we have fully lived within His design for life?  Are we clear in our understanding of the kingdom coming but not yet in fulness?  Do we see the cross of Christ as central to our wholeness?

So.  All good?  Only God is good.  Tough lives or otherwise, we are so quick to put ourselves where God deserves to be, yet He has put Himself where we deserve to be.  Amazing, humbling truth helps us to acknowledge that it is indeed (despite tough circumstances)……….ultimately all good.