I want to share some words which I was deeply struck by and which I think are very important for the church in our nation to hear. I claim no credit for this post. The words are those of my pastor, Malcolm Duncan, and I reproduce them here with his permission.
A little context. Two days ago, I was part of the National Catalyst conference held at Gold Hill. ‘Catalyst‘ (which is soon to be renamed) is a missional network of churches all over the UK. It was started by Gold Hill in 2011, and we host two National Conferences each year. The focus this week was on multi-generational ministry and its importance if we wish to see the church in our nation being effective at reaching people with Jesus and His gospel.
I will build my church
To begin the day, Malcolm reminded us of Jesus’ promise: “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18) He reminded us that Jesus has always been in the business of taking a ragtag bunch of people, forming them into a body and using them to do things they would be powerless to do by themselves.
Of vital importance is that HE is the one building HIS church. We do not reach the world for Christ. We reach the world with Christ. He is the initiator and the completer of any good work we might do. He chooses to use us.
Speaking to a room where many (if not most) were church leaders, Malcolm reminded us that we are only ever under-sheperds of the Great Shepherd, drawing on Peter’s words in 1 Peter 5:1-4.
There is a danger for those of us who are part of the leadership of a church to start thinking of the church as ours. When we start thinking like that, we start acting like that. We start trying to build our church, instead of letting Jesus have it and letting Him build it through us.
“I want my church back”
It was at this point that Malcolm shared what really struck me. At Gold Hill in August 2007, a prophetic word was given through which God simply said this: “I want my church back.”
This wasn’t a criticism of any individual (either in 2007 or two days ago when Malcolm shared it again). This was a challenge not to lay claim to what does not belong to us. As Malcolm said:
I would not sleep with another man’s wife – I must not try to be the husband to the Church that only Christ can be.
He then shared 10 reasons he believes Jesus has for wanting His church back. These are 10 exceptional reasons to be very careful always to let Jesus own the church, and not try to ourselves. He is far better with it that we can be. They were:
- Jesus wants His church back because He owns it.
- Jesus wants His church back because He loves it more than we do.
- Jesus wants His church back because He is stronger than we are.
- Jesus wants His church back because He is wiser than we are.
- Jesus wants His church back because it is safer in His hands than it is in ours.
- Jesus wants His church back because He is better at leading it than we are.
- Jesus wants His church back because He paid for it and we didn’t.
- Jesus wants His church back because He doesn’t want it to kill us (at this point Malcolm reminded us that He had already died for it, and He didn’t want us to as well)
- Jesus wants His church back because He can see potential that we can’t.
- Jesus wants His church back because He loves us.
We can kill ourselves trying to carry something that is far too big for us. Or we can let Jesus carry it, and find that in His hands we are unstoppable.
Like I said at the start. I think this is a very important message, so please share it with anyone you can. Church leaders are burning out every day, churches failing every day, because they are trying to take what isn’t theirs, and it’s destroying them.