WE ARE EXETER – The City Harmonic Concert October 29th 2015
Those crazy Canadians
If you ever get the chance or opportunity to go see the band “The City Harmonic” then I would advise that you please do, they are much more than four “Weird Canadians” (Their words and not mine) from Hamilton, a place that is as well known for its steel industry as it is it’s football team (Tigercats) and based on the testimony I heard last night this formed a big part of the history of why they were touring North America with their “We Are” tour, and in the latest leg of this tour when last night they visited my home town in Exeter, CA.
Back to the Great Commission
There are not many bands that come through here (Small population of just over 10,000) so we have to give much kudos to Michael Guzman of the Church of God, Exeter for being able to make Exeter one of the stops on this great tour and for the band for making the tickets so affordable. On a personal level this confirmed so many things that God has been speaking to me that we should as Christians be working together for the glory of God and fulfilling Matthew 28 and going out and making preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ the number one priority. Michael was keen from the start that this be Exeter’s event and not a Church of God event and all of the relevant publicity spoke of “Churches together” and I find this great and I will explain the reasons why below.
The Gospel of Jesus should be brought forward in a unit as opposed to a pincer movement! I know that is Army terminology but there is an element of truth in the fact that there is “strength in numbers”. If that means further ecumenicalism then I would have to say to those who are scared of working with those outside of their particular flavor of Christianity the words of Christ himself when the disciples warned of someone who was doing the work of Christ in Jesus name but was not part of their particular group…
Luke 9:49 (ESV) John answered, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he does not follow with us.” 50 But Jesus said to him, “Do not stop him, for the one who is not against you is for you.”
Reinvent the wheel?
People have issues in doing joint projects due to minor differences in theology. Here is tge thing, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time, many churches will be doing similar things. Let us look at it from a non-Christian point of view; a non-Christian does not understand the subtle differences between Baptist theologies or they couldn’t pick a Lutheran out of a lineup or a Calvinist from a Catholic and all they know is that it is “Christian” in religion and in definition and they will not care what branch of Christianity that this viewpoint belongs to and will often times use something a denominational leader says as something to beat the whole of Christianity over.
Cheap as chips?
Let’s use an analogy that is a little fun but gets the point across well. Let us replace the denomination name with flavors of chips. So rather than stating I am a Baptist or Presbyterian, we will state I am Salt and Vinegar or I am Barbeque, which by definition are all potato chips but again they are different flavors. (A good question to ask would the “cult of potato chips be Cheetos or Funyins eaters?) Would we split over a chip flavor as easily as we split over a preferred order of service on a Sunday or in the case of Seventh Day Adventist the day of the week that you prefer to go to church?
Align with those on the same mission
At this point I would have to state that it is important to align ourselves with people who are on the same mission as us and not “join forces for the sake of joining forces if the ones you seek to align with are not on the same mission as you” and I have to confess that I am a big fan of the Apostle Paul, a man who started off his journey persecuting Christians to the point of death as Rabbi Saul of Tarsus, then he had a blinding light and was brought to task by his Lord on the road to Damascus (Acts 9) and then spent much of his written work appealing for unity in the body. A favorite writing of mine is as follows…
1st Corinthians 1:10 (ESV) I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. 11 For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. 12 What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 14 I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15 so that no one may say that you were baptized in my name. 16 (I did baptize also the household of Stephanas. Beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) 17 For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.
You could say the same truth lies at the door of the modern Western church as it did when Paul wrote to the church in Corinth. Bear with me for a second and you will see where I am going with this, replace the word “Paul” or “Apollos” with your brand of church for example “I am a Methodist” or “I follow Calvin” and you will see how relevant this is to the modern day believer, we are instructed to be of the “same mind and judgment” and let us do that, let us preach the gospel straight from the pages of the word and let the Holy Spirit impact the lives of the people we touch. Let the revival start with me, with you the reader. Let us strengthen our homes, let us be like Joshua and let there not be a decision “As for me and my house WE WILL serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15)
Families on and in mission
Here is where the gloves come off and we need to read the truth that we need to be families ON mission and families IN mission. Please know that we are not perfect and we will fail, we will sin, we will fall and we will fail but we will love! John 13:35 states that this “is how we will be identified as his disciples, by our love for one another” This could be as simple as having people over, this could be mentoring people in the word, this could just be as simple as doing your job to the best of your ability and being a Christian in the workplace in every transaction you do. There will be times where the mission of Christ is strong and there are times that you have to focus more on the family but we should be “working at it all to the Lord heartily and not to a human master” (Colossians 3:23) We have to use the skills that God has blessed us with and use it all to the glory of God. My wife is a gifted musician and leads our house in worship on a Sunday evening and I love that she has the heart to do so, I know that I am stronger when I am doing what I am called to do by the Lord, I have the gifts of encouragement, teaching and mentoring.
What about the concert?
Getting back to the concert, it was beautiful to see the great local choir made up from many local churches, great to hear of the pastors and leaders who met together to coordinate to help move the needle for Jesus in our small community and was great to see the three pastors who came up and prayed over the community that this not just be a concert but actually be a small part of an ongoing movement to spark revival in the City of Exeter and beyond. And that is my heart, like these Canadians I come from a “Steel town” in that beautiful land called Scotland and my first job was an apprentice welder in a place very close to the original Hamilton in Scotland. I recognized the place that they came from and the heart that they had to get the churches and the people of God together and get all of us Christians pointing in the same way as regards to evangelizing our local area. When Jesus stated the great commission and gave us the task to “go out unto the world and preach the gospel” there was no caveat that stated “only if they have the same eschatology or hermeneutics”. The music was wonderful and most definitely a joyful noise to our Lord. The words were impactful and certainly pierced any remaining hardness in my heart and swept away any inhibitions that I had about being on mission in my small town. I genuinely felt God speaking to me and it was a true oasis in the desert as it was a break from real life and a good opportunity to have that mountaintop experience and realign priorities that may have got messed up otherwise. The question I have is why are we not on that mountaintop more? Let us get back on point with what God is trying to do in our lives and be that blessing to others and let the Lord replenish us from that stream of endless living water.
What flavor of Christ are you?
I find it such a shame that we lead into conversations about our faith by stating our particular branch of Christianity (and example would be I am a Presbyterian) before we identify ourselves as Christians and because we have become so entrenched in our differences we do not even think that the church across the road may be willing to pull our resources and do a community outreach. We have to start thinking in terms of changed hearts as opposed trying to get people in the doors on a Sunday. These are words of lamentation and I am working through my own issues and my own baggage that I have self-loaded in this area.
Quantity or quality?
Personally if I was a pastor, I would rather have 40 committed, connected family like believers in my church than 400 folks who barely knew each other and do not operate in any small groups, individual ministry or mentoring in order to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry” because that 40 who are reaching out and being missional, teaching the converts and then sending them out to witness to others will be much more efficient in the work of the ministry in the area where God has planted them. I love small groups, so much so that I have one in my house on a Sunday evening, we go between 3 and 17 dependent on what night it is. We follow the example of our Messiah Jesus who had a small group of 12 disciples which he invested in, he mentored for three years and sent them out to change the world, as his disciples we should do likewise.
My prayer is that you read this and get excited to partner with me to change my small town; I would still like to partner with you if you live in a different town. My priority is revival in three places…
My home – I want to be like Joshua, my house will serve the Lord
My neighborhood – I want to be a light to my neighborhood and preach the gospel to whomever God sends my way
My town – Exeter is a lovely place but imagine Exeter on fire for Jesus? Wow what a thought and I want to be a good and faithful servant to the mission the Lord has given me.
Exeter is where I live now and I would go so far as to say it is my home town, Scotland will always be where I grew up but the Lord has given me Exeter as a mission field. I have no idea why I landed here except through God’s will but I know there are people who share my desire to make a change in my city.
One thing I know is that my Christian brothers and sisters in Exeter is that we are more similar than we are different, it is right that we should be praying for our brothers and sisters regardless of where they congregate on a Sunday, we all have the same Savior and WE ARE ONE. WE ARE ALL ON THE SIDE OF JESUS and WE ARE EXETER.
I pray this was a blessing, an exhortation and I have no desire to lead a movement, simply be a motivator or facilitator in moving the needle towards helping my town find Jesus Christ. If you find this a blessing, like, share or comment on this article or feel free to publicize this on whatever social media platforms you use. I love you all and want to see my small city on fore for Jesus.
A vision of clarity for the church (part 1)
A vision of clarity for the church (part 2)
A vision of clarity for the church (part 3)