South and South West
Mark Batterson says in his latest book Chase the Lion that our favourite scriptures, or those most significant in our journeys of faith, often become the script of our lives. As I’ve reflected on this and gone back through journals and notes to see which scriptures God has most impacted me through, I can see that this has been true for me. The Word has become a word in my life at important moments in my life, often those moments when I most needed to hear God speak, or which have resulted in significant transitions and decisions. This shouldn’t surprise us of course, since the word is living and active!
Over the last six months or so I’ve been asking those I mentor, lead and disciple, two questions:
1. What scriptures have become a script in your life?
2. How engaged in reading, studying and applying the scriptures to your life are you?
This was in part preparation for a 12-month project that we began at All Saints Worcester at the beginning of October called the ‘Year of Biblical Literacy’ (already affectionately known as a YOBL!). One of the key learnings and clarity moments for me in my sabbatical this past summer was that the most effective way to disciple people is to get them reading, knowing, understanding and applying the Bible.
It became clear to me that for many people it’s not that they don’t want to read the Bible and have it form and shape them as a follower of Jesus. It’s that they don’t know how to read the Bible. And so for 12 months we’re going to teach the Bible - what it is, how to read it, the overarching story, the key themes, how Jesus is central to it all and what it means to be people who live in and out the story. You can read more about YOBL here if you’re interested: http://www.allsaintsworcester.org.uk/yobl/
But it’s also in part because one of the scriptures that has become a script in my life is Matthew 22:29: ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God’.
This is in the context of a discussion Jesus has with some Sadducees about the nature of the resurrection: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+22%3A23-29&version=NIV
I believe that we need the word and the spirit. This is of course a key value of New Wine. It’s one of the values I champion most when we gather as Regional Directors to help shape the direction of travel for us a network and family or plan gatherings such as United or Leadership Conferences. That’s why I ended up being asked to talk to the camera about this for the New Wine website a couple of years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j4Jb85USFBk!
It’s too easy for us to think that as charismatics and evangelicals that Jesus wouldn’t say ‘You are in error’ to us. But if I’m honest I think we might sometimes be in error. Not because we don’t know the power of God, but because we don’t really know the scriptures. It’s not just about head knowledge… it’s about whether the scriptures have so profoundly shaped and formed our thinking, acting, talking, serving, planning, deciding, resting, giving, teaching, parenting, loving, caring and praying that we embody the life revealed in the scriptures for us. Or put another way, that as we root ourselves in the written word we find ourselves increasingly resembling the living Word.
And so dare I ask you a challenging question as leaders? How well do you know the scriptures? Is there a daily practice of Bible reading, study, reflection and application shaping and forming you as an apprentice of Jesus? Not just for a sermon, or a course… but for you?
One of my commitments for the development of our region within New Wine is that we will seek to be truly word and spirit in all we do. My friend Jon Tyson says he wants people to discover ‘a theology you cannot dismiss’ and ‘a power you cannot deny’ whenever you’re around the church he leads. I love that!
As we look ahead to 2017 I want to encourage you all to be booking into the Regional Leadership Conference happening next March (15-17) in Bristol where we will be gathering together as leaders and teams from across the region to be renewed in our own lives so that we can better lead in the local churches entrusted to us. I’m delighted that we have Debby Wright and David Stroud speaking. They are both great examples of leaders who know the scriptures and the power of God. There will be lots of time for worship, prayer ministry, informal networking, socialising and more. Details here: https://www.new-wine.org/events/leadership-conference-2017-south-and-south-west
I’m aiming to get to every network group over the course of this ministry year and look forward to being at both the Gloucestershire and Salisbury networks gatherings in a few weeks.
With my love and prayers as always,
All the best,
New Wine Regional Director, South & South West
Follow Rich on Twitter @richjohnson