What should you give the pastor for Christmas?
Yes, I really am going to use the monthly newsletter to write about that. But bear with me, it’s not quite what you think…
What church leaders need the most (at any time of year) and the thing which encourages them the most is a congregation who are keen to serve in ministries and willing to be equipped for more and more ministry responsibility in the local church.
The reason this is so encouraging is because this is actually justGod’s plan for what the church is meant to be: a community of people who have been saved by His grace, who are now living for Him and growing in Him. It’s straight from the book of Ephesians….
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10
This passage teaches that we have been saved by grace through faith. What a great thing to be reminded of in the run-up to Christmas: in Christ, we have been given the gift of salvation, andit was all by God’s grace. We did nothing to deserve it or earn it! (In the same way, the gifts we give children at Christmas are borne out of our love – and our wallets! – and not, as Father Christmas suggests, their worthiness.)
But verse 10 emphasizes that with this gift of salvation comes responsibility: we are now new creations, we are now God’s “workmanship”, and He has planned things for each and every one of us to take part in and to do. He has saved us fromsomething, but he’s also saved us for something.
Our lives are now lived in the service of this God of grace. What’s more, God has set aside some people to play a role in the training and equipping of church members. Paul goes on to speak about this in Ephesians 4:11-12, “And He personally gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastor- teachers, for the training of the saints in the work of ministry, to build up the body of Christ.”
God did not intend for his church to be a community with a gifted staff – but to be a community of diversely gifted people. It’s been said: “If the pastor is a superstar, the church is an audience, not a body.” What a terrible thing for a church to be centered on oneleader’s gifts and personality! It’ll only serve to grow his ego and shrink the church
A church grows and remains healthy when we put these New Testament principles into practice. The good news is: by God’s
grace this is really starting to happen at St Peters! 2018 has been our best year yet in terms of seeing new people step up to serve and lead ministries:
- – We’ve heard the most amazing stories of teenagersbeing mentored to start leading in our Kids ministry.
- – We’ve seen overworked fathers stepping up, at the endof an exhausting week, to serve at our Friday night kids clubs.
- – We’ve seen music teams, welcoming teams and fellowship group leaders grow – in number and depth.
- – We currently have over 200 people serving at St Peters and 55 of those are leading a team a group or a class of some kind.
I can’t say enough how encouraging it is to be leading a churchwhere this happens….it’s a real gift to reflect on that at the end the year! And your gift is first and foremost for God – you’re doingit for Jesus and his Kingdom.
If we are to keep reaching and discipling more people, this is what we need to do more and more.
“Training”… “equipping”… “developing”… “leading”. Going forward, you can expect to hear those words often. Early in 2019 we’re going to invite everyone who is serving or leading in somecapacity to a special start-of-year evening, called “ONRAMP”.We’ll be reminded of our mission. There’ll be teaching from God’sword to encourage us to grow as servant leaders and volunteers at St Peters. We’ll also hear some stories from people who haveexperienced the joy of leading others, for the first time. This will all happen on the evening of Friday 18th January (before the Friday Night kids program begins for the year).
Off the back of this central training session all our different ministry areas will then do their own specific training sessions to get the year going.
So enjoy the holidays (when they finally arrive!) Rest well. Relax. Recharge. And get ready to experience more of God’s grace in 2019.
‘To God be the glory, great things He hath done; So loved He the world that He gave us His Son!’