Hillsong used to have song called “I will never be the same again”. The refrain was:
There are higher heights, there are deeper seas
Whatever you want to do Lord, do in me
It was a beautiful song and although it’s not been one I’ve sung in a long time, I was thinking about it this morning. In November, I always start planning and preparing for the New Year and start praying and asking God for wisdom and direction.
I want to lead Tree of Life Dagenham, and the entire network forward into everything God has for it. I start making a calendar, I check up on the preaching calendar, I look at everyone in leadership and consider whether they are in the best place and how I can develop them in the year. It’s a great time of preparation and planning.
I am 100% for preparation and planning. I am all for programmes and for organization. I believe the Holy Spirit is a planner, the Father is a designer and Jesus is a person who loves order and structure. I believe you can prove that from the Bible fairly easily.
However, this morning as I have been looking at budgets, planning for “reasonable” growth, and projecting what will happen next year, I just felt God tell me that there are higher heights. That He is capable and willing to do more than we can ever ask or imagine. Not that God was saying not to plan, just that He was saying “Hold the Plans loose, because I am about to do something that you can’t plan for because it is beyond your wildest imagination”
This year – plan for the next. But hold your plans loosely because God wants to do something you can’t plan for, because you can’t even imagine it. Something so good that only He could get the glory.
The next qualification for ministry is that an elder should be “given to hospitality”. The Greek word is xenophile which means a lover of foreigners. Elders should be able to show hospitality, welcome and kindness to people no matter their background.
In the Tree of Life Network, all our elders have to open their houses once a week and show kindness to people – worship with them, pray with them, encourage them, challenge them, inspire them, disciple them. Why? Because that is part of being a leader. If you are not taking people with you on the journey, you are not a leader – you are just someone going for a walk.
So all elders have to be able to show hospitality. But the word goes deeper than that – it means given to hospitality for foreigners – people from different backgrounds, ages, cultures, nationalities. Some churches divide their small groups up on cultural lines or national lines – but how are people going to learn wisdom if they only hang around people just like them? It’s crazy! It’s like getting a splinter in your foot and trying to get it out with your other foot! You need a body part that is different to solve the problems you cannot solve. You need people who are older, younger, from different backgrounds, genders and cultures in the church so that we can learn from each other! So we can develop.
The problem is that which is different can scare us, and in our arrogance we can think anything different has to be worse – because of course we are doing it right, and everyone else is doing it wrong. We need to be free from fear and prideful prejudice to be an elder in the church – because the church is so so so much bigger than people just like us!
7. Start with a good ice-breaker
6. Ensure that everyone is free to contribute
5. Ensure that no-one is forced to contribute
4. Sing together.
3. Read the Bible together
2. Pray for each other’s needs
1. Green tea. Hot green tea.