God at Work

Stories from around Ireland

During Sligo 15, people had the opportunity to share their stories of what God has done in their lives.  Here VOX Editor Ruth Garvey-Williams brings you some of those stories.

Martin is a Consultant Surgeon and Stephanie is a Nurse at the Royal (in Belfast).  This is their story.

We have two children.  Hannah our firstborn.  Then in 2008 we had a miscarriage.  The following year, we became pregnant again and at the second scan it became obvious that something was wrong.  The consultant had seen cysts on our baby’s brain and thought it was Edward’s Syndrome - a condition that is not compatible with life.  We were shocked and devastated but we went up for prayer and felt, “We can’t look back.” 

Someone prophesied that we would have a baby with blond hair and blue eyes.  The third scan was perfectly normal.  Our daughter Hannah (2 ½) kept praying, “Baby be normally.”  We read 1 Samuel 1 about Hannah praying and decided to call him Samuel Kingston.  Eventually he was born on 29 December 2009. A few days after he was born, he was quite ill and was taken into hospital.  There was concern because of what the early scans had shown.  But eventually, he recovered and today he is a normal, healthy little boy!

Eddie from Cork is the eldest of six children.  Twenty years ago he became a Christian.  Here's a little of his story:

I was so on fire for God and I led two of my brothers to Christ but then I had a breakdown.  I couldn't understand it.  I was a Christian but I needed to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital.  I kept asking, "How did I get here?"  I felt like I was finished.  Eventually I was discharged and God had to re-build my life from the foundation up.  I realised that I had suffered multiple traumas during my childhood that had left deep scars.  Healing can take time but God is changing me and healing me.  I'm learning to trust Him because He is awesome!  I'm also learning that God uses the weakest vessels.  There is always hope!

Margaret from Killarney in Co Kerry was delighted with her new car which was her favourite colour and even had her date of birth in the number plate!  She was determined to use her car for God's glory and as Team Hope Shoebox Appeal coordinator for the area once even fit 187 shoeboxes in the car.  Here's her story:

I was taking a friend (who wasn't a Christian) for lunch with some other friends in Cork but I forgot to fill the car with petrol.  When the red fuel light came on, I knew I only had 20 miles worth of petrol left but decided to risk it and continue on the Cork and get petrol on the way home.  We stayed much later than we had intended and on the way home every petrol station we passed was closed.  I began to pray, "Lord, please don't let me down."  I didn't want us to be stranded on the side of the road in the dark.  I encouraged my friend to believe as well.  Eventually we made it all the way home to Killarney - a round trip of 87 miles on an empty tank!  The even greater miracle was that my friend came to know the Lord.

Robert Graham is a farmer from Portadown (although originally from Monaghan).  Three years ago, he started to get a real hunger for God and this is what happened.

I began to ask God, "What do you want me to do?"  There was a real need in our local primary school for a breakfast club.  I began to gather volunteers and then went down to our local Asda and persuaded them to supply bread and juice at cost price.  I'm the sort of person who doesn't take "no" for an answer and I challenged them, "Put your money where your mouth is."  Another Christian business also supplied us with fruit.  We opened last September with 25 kids and ended up with a total of 80 kids.  Many of them were coming to school hungry! 

From there we got to find out about other needs in the community.  We found families who were in temporary housing without furniture and we began to collect second hand furniture that people were throwing out and giving it to those who needed it.  It was about, "Seeing a need and filling a need."

Since then I've been able to start Messy Church for our community with many people who wouldn't normally come to church deciding to come along.  On our first meeting with had 80 people and that has risen to 140!

Richard Wallen works with Willowfield Parish Church in East Belfast, he shared stories from a  recent Bible-reading marathon the church did in their community.

Over the course of 10 days, we read the whole Bible in different places in our community.  People would read for 15 minutes at a time.  We were out reading the Bible from 9am until 8pm in the park, at the shops, in a pub, near schools and even in the sheltered housing complex.

While I was reading from the book of Job, there was a screech of breaks.  A man jumped out of his car and said, "Read on, brother!  That was me.  I lost my job, my family and my home.  I still have my faith but I stopped going to church."  We were able to stop and pray for him.

One lady hovered for five minutes before saying she'd love to read for a bit.  She told us, "My marriage ended and I was left to bring up my three children along but my faith continued."

Another person stopped us when we were reading Genesis and said, "This is real life.  This is my story!"  They went home and read the whole of Genesis on the spot!

For we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard - Acts 4:20

Evangelist Training Course

New Wine Ireland offers a two-year practical training course in evangelism for people who are passionate about reaching out with the Gospel.  Here's some more info about what it is all about.

This group is coming to the end of their two-year course in evangelism with New Wine Ireland.

This group is coming to the end of their two-year course in evangelism with New Wine Ireland.

George Newell heads up the course which was formed as a partnership between New Wine Ireland and Through Faith Mission. In a nutshell, the course is a two-year distance learning, practical course to train and equip evangelists.

George Newell heads up the Evangelism Training Course for New Wine Ireland

George Newell heads up the Evangelism Training Course for New Wine Ireland

George explains, "We are looking for people who have a heart to see others won for Christ.  It is about equipping, encouraging and enabling and sending out.  It is not so much about the qualification but encouraging people in the call that is already on their lives.  Biblcal teaching and practical application."

Run since 2002, the course has trained over 100 students.  It consists of six units, accredited through St. John's Theological College in Nottingham.

Students study:

  • New Testament
  • Old Testament
  • Ministry and Mission
  • Evangelism
  • Plus one other module of the student's own choice

The sixth unit is a portfolio which records evangelism experience, a series of training weekends and an assessed mission.

George said, "Anyone can do the theory and the theology of evangelism but that doesn’t mean you are an evangelist.  This sixth unit runs throughout the two years.  It is a portfolio detailing your evangelism experience with 12 different learning outcomes. Things like being able to communicate the gospel in a way that is relevant to their culture.  Leading an evangelism team.  Leading someone to Christ.  The reality is that if you are an evangelist and you are doing an evangelism… it is easy enough to complete.

"We are all different and God has called us all to different roles. We can think of evangelists as either a preacher in a pulpit or someone on a street corner.  We are looking for people who have a heart to train others. 

Course requirements:  Eight hours of study a week, three residential weekends per year and monthly meetings for worship, teaching and ministry.  

Cost The course costs 2,496 sterling (24 payments of 104 pounds) or the Euro equivalent.   New Wine Ireland encourages students to raise support from their church to help cover these fees.

Application process: Letter of reference from your church leader which outlines your experience including evangelism and your suitability for the course.  Details of another referee. A CV outlining your experience and role in ministering to others.  Find out more at www.newwineireland.org.

Closing Date:  Applications in for Friday 30 October and after that there is a selection process.  The induction weekend takes place in Willowfield Parish Church in January.

What was it like?

The students shared their own experience of the course:

Robert Graham said, "I’m from a farming background.  It is amazing how God works in your life.  I’ve become so involved in my church. I was always scared about the questions I couldn’t answer.  Now my own rector has me doing sermons.  I started a new Messy church as a result of the course.  I’m very passionate about it.  God set me on fire for this.  I used to be in the business of harvesting crops - now I’m in the business of harvesting souls!    People are getting to know Christ through the ordinary people!  It is amazing how our church has come on.

Sandra said, "For me one of the things God is doing is giving me permission to try things.  I’ve had a learning curve - doing things I would not have had the opportunity to do or be comfortable with or preaching and doing kids talks.  We are learning from each other and the camaraderie is wonderful.  It is an uncomfortable course but it is good. it makes you more aware of situations that God opens up and gives you the confidence to step into them."

Willie is on the first year of the course,  He shared, "On the first weekend, we had to prepare a sermon and then say our sermon it to each other.  I had never preached a sermon in my life.  It was daunting but I thought, everybody here is on my side. When I did it, it was like a legal high - it felt so good!

"I’m not a great reader so the course has been a great challenge.  I’m doing this course because I want to be equipped when those questions come to give a good account.  It is forcing me to learn but when I’m doing it, I’m enjoying it.  You don’t evangelise for your church, you evangelise for Christ!"

Colum added, "I left school at 16 with no qualifications and I was 43 years old when I started the course.  I would have no computer skills so I write my essays out by hands.  I’ve found since I started the course, I’ve been able to share my faith with people I work with and with customers.  I've even offered to pray with them. Before I started the course, I would never have done that." 

 

"If you want to be equipped to share the gospel, the course is brilliant for that." 

Missional Church

One of the key focuses of New Wine Ireland is "outreach".  In one seminar during Sligo 15, leaders from two different churches shared examples of how they are reaching out with the Gospel. VOX Editor Ruth Garvey-Williams brings you a summary of what they had to say.

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George Newell heads up evangelism at Willowfield Parish Church in East Belfast.  He shared stories and examples from the year of mission in their community. 

We decided that we would do a door to door visitation of our parish.  There are 7,000 homes in our area.  I’m not really into door to door. I felt God was telling us to do this and I thought, “Oh dear.”  I wondered what are we going to do on the doors.  We took an idea from Causeway Vineyard in Coleraine - asking three questions:

1) Have you got time to answer three questions?  That’s the first question.

2) If God could do a miracle for you today, what would it be?  That's an opportunity to pray with them, right then and there, for God to do a miracle.  

3) What is the greatest miracle that God has done for you?  

We started in December.  There are 25 of us really involved.  The first time we went out, at the very first door, the girl gave her life to the Lord.  It surprised me!  There is something about inviting the presence of God into a conversation right at the start!

We are not there to debate with people or argue our point.  We are not there to hammer people over the head with the Bible.  We are looking for the people that God’s Spirit is already speaking to.  When God’s Spirit is speaking into someone’s life, evangelism becomes easy.

I’ve been an outreach worker for 10 years but the last six months has totally changed my mind about what the people are like!  They are interested in the things of God.

It is better for an evangelist to have hell more frequently on his heart than on his lips!

One woman came to the door and said, “You are an answer to my prayer.”  She was a Christian who was visiting her father.  She had been praying for her father that morning and asked us to talk to him.  He had a real fear of dying and he walked straight into the kingdom of God.

We have actually discovered that people are very welcoming.  It is amazing how many people invite strangers into their home.  One woman said, “I have no interest in faith at all.  I’m an atheist.  But come on in anyway.”

A girl invited us into the house.  Her husband was lying on the sofa snoring.  We were talking to his wife and praying with her and she gave her life to the Lord while he was still sleeping!

At times, we have convinced ourselves that people are hostile to the Gospel and to Jesus.  More often they are  hostile to the ways we have gone about sharing the Gospel… not towards Jesus Himself!

I’m amazed by how the presence of God impacts people.  We spoke with one young fella.  I asked, "Can I pray with you?  We’ll keep our eyes open."   I put my hand on his shoulder.  I prayed, “God come and reveal that you are real.”  Then I asked, "Did you sense anything?"  He said, "No." But then he said, “I did actually.  Something went right down through my body.”  

One Saturday afternoon I was just walking about and this girl came out of her house.  She stopped and asked, “What are you doing?”  She had given her life to the Lord years ago but had drifted away.  She said, "I’m not sure God is real anymore." So I asked, "Can I just pray for you?"

Then she burst into tears.  I thought, “What do I do?”  God just came and touched her life.  Immediately, she knew that God was real.  I told her, "You mght have wandered away from God but he has always been close to you."  She stood crying her eyes out.  The presence of God just impacted this lady’s life.

The prophetic is fun but it is realy, really risky.  We try to use the prophetic in a gentle way on the street.  We knocked on one guy’s door and he was in his 70s.  He was hostile but not shouting.  He said, “God is not real.”  He really knew the Bible from back to front.  I said, "I can’t answer your questions but God is real.”  He said, “You’ve been conned.” He would not let me pray with him.  The girl who was with me just grabbed his hand and said, “God has told me to apologise for what the church did to you when you were a child.  God loves you.”  He was totally shocked.   Whatever it was, it was true.  He closed the door.  The next thing, the door opened again and he invited us in.  Don’t dismiss the power of the prophetic but do it with gentleness.

There was one guy we prayed with on the doorsteps.  He was quite emotional. One of the team told him, “You are doing a good job as a father.”   Then he told us he had been bringing up his child on his own and wasn't sure if he was doing a good job!  

There are times when there is a bit of rejection but we’ve had very little.   The key is to carry the presence of God.  Let God do the work and not you. When He does the work evangelism and mission is really simple.

John Dickinson from Carnmoney Presbyterian Church shared how his congregation as approached mission and evangelism.

We run debt counselling, clothing ministry, food bank and providing for needs that have a missional basis.  What I tend to find is that mission is the buzz word.  I rarely hear that people are coming to faith.  While lots of things are mission, mission brings people into contact with Jesus Christ.  

For us doing evangelism as part of the mission we do was a strategic decision.  We are about worship, community and witness.  We decided to do evangelism continually and not just from time to time.  We decided not to have “weeks of mission” - we wanted to do it all the time.  The tool for us was Alpha.  

We did Alpha every autumn, follow up in the spring and then a new believers course after that.  Loads of people came to faith.  We always ran Alpha courses in a bar, hotel, golf club or leisure centre.  People in the church complained and said, “Don’t you have more important things to do than running alpha courses?”  I had to explain why evangelism is important.  I’m a minister so it is hard to have a normal conversation with people about religious topics.  If I go to someone’s door, I’m a minister and the shutters come up. In an Alpha small group it was different.  It is an incredible opportunity to be a normal human being.

It worked and it didn’t work.  People came to faith and then they came to church.  Then we had to change things but they had a set of expectations that weren’t always fulfilled in church.  It challenged me to think about the whole response thing in church.  We needed to provide people with the opportunity to respond.  Just like George didn’t like door to door, I didn’t like doing appeals.  So we decided doing stuff which provided people with the opportunity to engage with worship and to make a response in church.   

 If you give people the opportunity to respond, incredibly people do.  All sorts of people you don’t expect.  The big challenge was Sunday morning.  Eventually I needed to get to the point of being willing to say to people, “If God has been speaking to you, get up and come to the front of church.”

The first morning I noticed a young woman stand up who was new in church.  She stood up and gave her life to the Lord.  It taught me as well that not only in an Alpha small group but actually if you give people the opportunity to come to Christ in Sunday worship… they do!  

Two things are key:

What sits behind an effective evangelism strategy is the heart and head of the leader or leaders.

Heart:  You have to really want this.  I’ve been in church all my life but wanting people to come to faith is something that church leaders don’t really do.  There is no real heart from people to come to Christ.  It might be there in the back of your head.  For me what changed most was my heart.  A sense of desperation that God would do something.

If the Gospel did not apply and make a difference in the lives of the people I was working with, there was no point in going on.  It was only when I became desperate that God began to put me in touch with desperate people. 

When God melted my heart and gave me a desperate hunger in my heart to see people come to faith, then He began to bring people to me.  There is hardly a week that passes when I don’t have those kinds of conversations.  My only explanation is that God has done something in me. You need to want this.

Head:  For me one of the biggest issues is that your head has to anticipate that something is going to happen.  One of the things I often find is that people want to start an Alpha course without knowing what they are going to do with people who come to faith.  They have made no plans for integrating or supporting those who come to faith. 

Think about what you need to do with your worship and what you need to provide for people who come to faith.  If you don’t anticipate that people are going to come to faith, people don’t come to faith! You need to be sure that when you do something, God works through it.

What is wrong is not that we don’t have good ideas but the people who have the ideas, don’t expect any results.  Behind anything you do is the heart and head things.  The passionate desire to do it and the humble anticipation and the expectation that people will come to faith.

Kingdom and Culture

Peter Lynas, Director of the Evangelical Alliance of Northern Ireland, looked at how the Kingdom of God impacts the culture around us.  Here is a summary of his seminar brought to you by VOX Editor Ruth Garvey-Williams.

We live in a culture that is driven by story.  What is your story?  So often when we do tell our story, we talk about things that happened 15 years ago.  Narrative is our culture’s currency and he who tells the best story wins.  Whether we like it or not, our culture is discipling people.  We imagine that 30 minutes on Sunday is going to undo the 50 - 60 hours of influence by our culture throughout the week.

So often we communicate our story as if it were all about us.  We read left to right and the bridge of life illustration appears to tell the story of us moving towards God via the cross. We only tell a half story.  The full story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration is simplified to sin and the cross and we have lost cultural influence. 

What is the real story of which my life is part?   It is so much bigger than me.  It is so important to get the big picture of God’s story.  We need a wide angle lens to see the big frame of the story that engages on culture.

When I went off to university, I discovered the predominant story of our culture and wondered how Christianity could respond.  The world's story is pretty unclear on many questions… there are literally hundreds of “isms” - humanism, capitalism, agnosticism, Atheism… People think that we as human beings are going to solve their own problems.  Wow, that’s depressing.  Have you met any human beings?

The Biblical narrative cuts right across this.  There is a Creator and we are created for a reason; not for a random collection of “isms” but with an identity, for a particular set of relationships and with a purpose.

Jesus upset and jarred the authorities of his day.  He lived and spoke in such a way that upset them. When we pray with people, when we see people healed… we upset people!

Our story our God's on-going redemption of the world is more consistent and coherent . Tom Wright said, "The whole point of Christianity is that it offers a story, which is the story of the whole world."  You can’t say that Christianity is a private thing.  If it is true, it is true for everyone.

Looking at the big themes of God's story, we see:

From Chaos to Order

The world was formless and void.  Out of the chaos, God brings out order. There is a difference in the way we choose to form a relationship (sliding or deciding).  Couples slide into these situations.  Bringing order and stability to life as God brought order out of chaos in creation.

From Emptiness to Life

Out of emptiness, God brings life.  We respond in creativity and worship.  We are made in His image, so there are artists, architects, builders, etc.

From Bondage to Freedom

God rescues His people from slavery (literally and spiritually).  We respond with work to combat modern slavery (anti trafficking, CAP..) and we work in areas such as financial planning, banking, therapy, physiotherapy, HR to bring people into physical, emotional and spiritual freedom.)

From Desert to Abundance

God brings His people through the desert and into the promised land.  We are seeking to move people from the spiritual and economic desert into a place of abundance…  We need pastors, dreamers, visionaries and also entrepreneurs, farmers and gardeners.

Too often church promotes public sector not entrepreneurship.  Part of the Irish story is to dream and do things differently.  My dad helped to support 15 different business start-ups.  Let us help release more people from the desert into abundance.

Responding to idolatry and Injustice

We do two-fold damage when we replace God with an idol.  We undermine our own humanity and injustice is the consequence of that.  Having displaced God, we lose our perspective.

From Exile to Flourishing

God restored His people.  Seek the peace and prosperity of the city.  We are involved in investing, growing and praying for our land.   We work as politicians, civil servants, local government, community workers, PTA, etc.

Death to Life

We inhabit a story that says, Jesus rose from the dead and that changes everything.  He is the resurrection and the life.  Today we see stories of healing and miracles.   But we are also involved in healthcare, recycling, renewable energy and other ways of bringing life where there was once death!

Heaven to Earth

The climax of the big story is God making his dwelling place with humanity.  It is not about getting people out of hell and into heaven.  It is about God moving to earth.  The healing of humanity and earth not the abandonment of it.

We are Trusted Rulers.  Society at large was known as being tight with its money and liberal with its bodies.  The early Christians were known for being tight (restrained ) with their bodies and liberal with their money.

Kings and queens, priests and prophets.  We have access to creative solutions that are different to others.  We then have to speak with authority into the issues of our day.  We need to bring new ideas to the table.  We mediate for our cities and communities.

Confront, subvert, recreate.  We need better public leaders.  We offer a different story that cuts across the prevailing narrative and we re-create… Our culture outlines pre-conceived horizons. We need to create new horizons of possibility.

  • Tell stories
  • Gather with others (form a community)
  • Do the bottom up stuff - change your community in small and big ways
  • Do the top down stuff - speak to your politicians

A Culture of Honour

Priscilla Reid from CFC in Belfast gave an interactive seminar exploring "A Culture of Honour" at New Wine Ireland's summer conference - Sligo15.  Here VOX Editor Ruth Garvey-Williams brings you a summary.

It is interesting that outside of Christian circles "honour" has very different connotations.  In other societies a culture of honour is about defending your honour, usually with violence and usually because of perceived wrong. I have enjoyed looking at the subject in the Christian context.  

We mustn’t underestimate the importance of culture in our churches.  Visitors are looking around to see: what sort of people are they and could I fit in here?  If we have never thought about it, it is good to start thinking about it.  It is good to be intentional.  What kind of atmosphere do we want to create?  We all have blind spots when it comes to the culture of our churches. 

WE create the culture within our own church.  If there is a lack in our churches, we need to take responsibility for it.  We can’t point the figure at other people!

It is interesting how Jesus talked about being limited in His home town because the culture of unbelief.  The culture we create can facilitate the Holy Spirit… or not!  It is exciting that we get to play a part in facilitating what the Holy Spirit is doing in our church family. 

We need to be counter-cultural in terms of our attitudes between genders, races, across-generations… we need to be those who say, “This is what the family of God looks like.”  In our culture, there is often a culture of suspicion and dishonour.

What things come to mind when you think of your church culture?

We need to be able to honour the younger generation.  We can’t always be saying, “That will never work.”  We need to allow the younger generation to try new things and to allow them to make their own mistakes.

There is a danger of self-sufficiency within your own denomination.  Not being willing to bless other churches.  And yet ou can go into a very small church and learn profound lessons. 

Churches believe they are welcoming to it is easy to only express welcome to those who are already members (the "in crowd").  A pastor in the States invited five people from the community to come in and tell him honestly what they thought of his church.  Sometimes we have a perception and we need to be honest with ourselves and maybe ask an unbiased opinion.

I was praying for years for our daughter to come back to church and when she went to church, no one spoke to her!  When you experience it, you understand how important it is.

What is a culture of honour?

The Bible has a lot to say about honour.  The first person we are told to honour is God.  If we truly have a sense of honouring God in our lives and in our corporate lives together, the rest of the honouring should flow naturally from that.  We honour others because we first honour Him.  (Love God, Love your Neighbour). 

The Bible talks about honouring our parents, about honouring marriage, about honouring  the government and about honouring the more “humble” parts of the body of Christ.  We should not be giving more honour to the more visible members of the body.   Sadly, so many people question their sense of worth and value because they can’t do certain things.  We need to be counter cultural - ensuring that every single person in the church is honoured and valued.

The Bible talks about honouring elders and widows and about honour in relationships before people get married - putting it bluntly, that means not having sex!

1 Samuel 2:30 "Those who honour me, I will honour.

The Lord also says that He will give the poor and needy a throne of honour.  Honouring in our churches has got to go beyond our borders.  We need to learn to honour those who God honours.  One of the ways we do that is to be servants of the poor.

Romans 12:10 "Honour one another above yourselves."  

To honour is to show great respect, to recognise, give credit to, pay tribute to, show appreciation of, sing the praises of and so on... when I read that list, I think this is hugely counter-cultural in Ireland.  Both north and south, we find it really difficult. We are embarrassed to sing someone’s praises. 

We don’t do it easily and we don’t do it well.  We given Americans a hard time but  they do this well.  We can think it is cheesy but I’ve heard American pastors expressing affection and love for people who are serving.  It challenged us and taught us that there is something about expressing honour that is important. Too often we are thinking, “Don’t give them a big head.”

Most occurances of the word honour in the Old Testament is Kabod meaning heavy or weighty (to give weight to someone).   One word that reflects what we are talking about is “value”.  A culture of honour is when we value one another.  

God honoured humanity at the cross.  He valued us enough that He would give His Son to die for us. That was honour where it was not due.  We can think we should only honour someone who “earns” it.  We need to value people and honour them even when they don’t deserve it.  When we get how much we matter to God, we start to look at other people with different eyes.  Even in our day with everything that is happening in our world, it can be more heartbreaking to see the reaction of Christians!  Even the worst of humanity that we see in the world, God is saying, “I died for that person.” 

We need to create a culture within our churches in which every single person is treated with value and respect.  Too often, we all indulge in wading in and cutting the feet from under someone. 

What does a culture of honour look like? 

If we honour one another and value each person, what does it look like in our churches?

A culture of prayer - we play lip service to it but we don’t always do it.  The way you can show value to people is to pray for them.  We value our community by setting aside time to pray for them.  That is the joy of praying for people who are not Christians - they are so overwhelmed that someone cares enough to pray for them.

A culture of thanksgiving

A culture of honour between leadership and congregation and vice versa (a two-way street).  We need to speak well of and believe the best of those who lead us but it is also great when leaders honour those in their congregation. 

NB: We dishonour people by not accepting honour - being able to say, “Thank you.”  We are so good at saying, “it was nothing.” When someone gives you a compliment in Ireland we say, “Oh this old thing… I picked it up in a charity shop!”

We need to learn to fail well - when I screw up, I need to apologise.  We expect other people to acknowledge wrong but we often try to pretend it doesn’t happen. There is something powerful about being willing to humble ourselves and say, "Sorry."

No favouritism.  Giving as warm a welcome to a homeless or smelly person as to a friend.  Not overwhelming people but embracing everybody with the same kind of warmth and respect and value.

Be careful about the assumptions you make.  I don’t want to become politically correct but when we think about our communication and valuing all people.

Showing kindness, gentleness and respect

Choosing to listen.  It should be natural to us but it is not.  If you are not prepared to have the conversation, don’t ask.  Be real and authentic. 

Acts of service - don’t just pray for something, do it.  We can be even more creative.

Protecting people from themselves.  Really valuing everything people contribute to the life of the church.  If we honour what peole are doing and show that we value it.  Saying “thank you”.  Making sure people are not taken for granted. If I’m cleaning the toilets and you are preaching the sermon, we are both serving the Kingdom of God. 

Preferring people - putting their ideas first.  Having a generosity of heart. We have all got our own passions.  A culture of honour understanding that your passion is equally valid to mine.  Even coming down to practical things like budget.  Would I be willing to pull back a bit on my passion to allow the money to go towards someone else’s passion?

Leadership succession:  When you are getting older, to pass on leadership. Many young people are lost because there is no succession.  There must be honour across the generations.  We need to train, mentor and then release the younger generation.  Also honouring the older generations, especially when they feel they can’t do as much.  It is important for the younger generation honours the older generation, what they have invested and how they served - recognising that we are living in the good of that! You might hand on a baton of responsibility but you get a new one.  Whatever age you are, you are still running the race!

Learning how to deal with conflict and confrontation - how to disagree agreeably.  Forgiveness is an important part of honouring

Encouragement is vital.