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“Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity … Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:12, 15-16)

Ok – we’ve heard it all before. It’s read out at ordinations and the like. But as I was reading it again (as I’m editing Porterbrook material) it struck me how fundamental, simple, challenging and life-changing it is.

Leadership isn’t about all the upfront stuff, though that’s often what we talk about, what we promote (by implication) at conferences and the like and what we aspire to. However, what Paul promotes here is a simple life of godliness, lived out in front of believers, that, coupled with sound taught doctrine, leads to salvation. No big speeches, no grand conferences or platforms, no book deals or church TV channel. A life of example.

Apparently Don Carson once asked “when was the last time you said to someone ‘You want to know what a life lived for the gospel looks like? Then watch me!’?” But if we don’t (or can’t) ask this, then we’re neglecting the fundamental duty of leadership…

This is taken from the Porterbrook module ‘Gospel Living’. Don’t know about you, but this warms my heart…

“Imagine the moment of your arrival in heaven. All the angels are lined up to welcome you, and all the saints who have gone before you are ready to cheer as you walk through the gates. Those who know you have got front-row seats, and you instantly recognise their faces, though they are all much more attractive than you remember. The noise is deafening and the sense of coming home is almost too much to bear. At first you think that they are there for you, and in a sense they are. However, then you realise that no one is patting you on the back and saying “Well done”. Not one word of congratulation is spoken. All the cheers are for God! All the praise is directed at him for his magnificent work of taking a broken specimen of humanity and transforming her into a stunning and breathtaking example of what grace can do. Just as no one stands in a gallery and praises the canvas or the paint and says, “What a fine work of art you are!”, so no-one in heaven will look at me and praise me for what a fine job I have made of my life. It is the artist who is applauded, as it is God who is praised.”

I’ve just read this in one of the Porterbrook modules. Quite challenging…

“Disciples Church in Durres (Albania) has planted a church in the nearby village of Sukth. There are now about a dozen believers there, and they have a burden for Jub, a few kilometres up the road, where one lady is a follower of Christ. So they’re spear-heading this work.

I love it. A young, fragile, impoverished church who meet in a dire little concrete building with no electricity decide it’s time to be church planting. Meanwhile rich-world churches of hundreds and thousands wonder if they can “afford” to lose the people or the income and declare themselves not ready to church plant — or don’t even think of it at all.”

This is a great quote from C.T. Studd about Bible college training… or not…

“The best training for a soldier of Christ is not merely a theological college. They always seem to turn out sausages of varying lengths, tied at each end, without the glorious freedom a Christian ought to abound and rejoice in. You see, when in hand-to-hand conflict with the world and the devil, neat little biblical confectionery is like shooting lions with a pea-shooter: one needs a man who will let himself go and deliver blows right and left as hard as he can hit, trusting in the Holy Ghost. It’s experience, not preaching that hurts the devil and confounds the world. The training is not that of the schools but of the market: it’s the hot, free heart and not the balanced head that knocks the devil out. Nothing but forked-lightning Christians will count. A lost reputation is the best degree for Christ’s service. It is not so much the degree of arts that is needed, but that of hearts, loyal and true, that love not their lives to the death: large and loving hearts which seek to save the lost multitudes, rather than guard the ninety-nine well-fed sheep in the British pen.”

If you want training that isn’t ‘merely a theological college’ then check out the Northern Training Institute. I’ve done a theology degree and I’ve done NTI – and NTI is far better than a hundred pieces of paper from a university…

I love it when God teaches us things and then gives us an opportunity to put them into action almost straight away.

Yesterday afternoon I was involved in a seminar for Porterbrook and we were talking about how to teach the Bible. Tim Keller, a church leader in New York takes the following approach:

When looking at a passage look at:

1. What you must do – what does the passage tell us we should be doing.

2. Why you can’t do it – no matter how hard we try on our own we will not be able to do what the passage asks

3. How Jesus did it – look at how Jesus is the one who was perfectly obedient, who could do what his father asks

4. How we can do it through him – because we are in Jesus and Jesus is in us by his spirit he helps us to follow him and be like him

It was great having this in my mind when talking to ‘Y’ last night. When she raised the issue of wanting to follow Jesus and be like him in being selfless she was seeing the first point of the outline above. The Bible calls us to follow Jesus. We had been talking about that in terms of forgiveness.

What she didn’t see was point 2 – on her own she can’t do that. So that’s where I went next. I explained how we fail.

We had already talked about point 3 – how Jesus has done it, so there was no need to go over that. Y already had seen how selfless Jesus was. So I moved on to point 4 – we can be selfless only through Jesus – its by his Spirit living in us that we can be like him. The challenge for Y at the end was to follow Jesus and have his Spirit come live in her.

A number of people ask me what a ‘Gospel Community’ is about – how it differs from a small group or a home group.

Well, last night I had the best experience of what a Gospel Community is about and it may give you a glimpse of what I’m talking about… Read the rest of this entry »

Michael Tinker is a professional musician and part of the Crowded House which is a church planting initiative in Sheffield and around the world. He's a follower of Jesus, Husband, Father, member of a Gospel Community, Musician and avid follower of fashion...

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