In previous blogs I noted some of the really straightforward learnings from my recent trip to Bethel, as well as the first two challenges (risk-taking, and fivefold leadership) that I've had to process more.
Again, I highly recommend the Rediscover Bethel video series as super-helpful in what Bethel say about themselves, and some of the "common questions and misconceptions" about their beliefs and approaches.
Challenge #3: Expectancy for gathered worship
In his sermon introducing our phrase 'Boundless Renewal', OCC's Senior Pastor Steve Jones noted that "Boundless Renewal (that is, seeing overflowing spiritual life renewing every arena of life) flows from worship, because the joy that leads to strength comes from facetime with God."
Bethel's terminology for this is, "a revivalist is a believer who is focused and passionate, willing to pay any price to live in community, purity and power because they are loved by God, whose manifest presence transforms lives and cultures." We're talking about the same thing!
And for Bethel, that all flows from worship. In an earlier blog in this series I said, "Worship is a really big part of what they do. It reminded me again of earlier times in OCC, when it seemed we worshipped in every gathering, however mundane!"
In the coming months, as we seek God's 'ongoing upgrade' in our worship at OCC, we're praying for, and preparing for, and leading into worship that is facetime and encounter with God, leading to joy and strength (boundless personal renewal), that leads to boundless renewal in our city (in families, communities and workplaces).
If you missed it, please catch up on the pre-Easter series on worship. It was a foundational and directional series for OCC.
So challenge #3 prompts me to keep asking: As I approach gathered worship each week, what am I expecting? What am I asking God to do? What am I coming to contribute? And then as the elder overseeing Sundays, what changes in the culture of worship at OCC does God want, and how do we get there?
Challenge #4: Expectancy for financial provision
As I write, we're in the middle of our annual budget process. As in every year I can remember since I started work for OCC in 1995, we have more vision for things we believe God is calling us to invest our time and resources into than we have provision! It's a regular dynamic of OCC church life, as we've written about previously.
As a church called not just to meet our own needs but to bless others with the blessing we have received from him, to be an apostolic base - a resource church - serving beyond ourselves with an 'apostolic vision' for God's kingdom to break in. This calls for a generosity of spirit, as well as a generosity of pocket, and (as we have explored above) faith for divine provision.
We heard some testimonies during our Bethel trip that have reminded us again that God 'owns the cattle on a thousand hills' (Psalm 50:11-12) and "that God will supply all our needs" (Philippians 4:19).
In the UK church we tend to have a cautious, frugal, uncomfortable and (what some would term) 'poverty mindset' towards money. Bethel, with its roots in the Pentecostal Assemblies of God movement, has what seems to some a 'prosperity gospel' mindset, which we turn our noses up at.
But in one of the Rediscover videos Kris rebuffs this view, and digs into the heart attitudes and 'wealth mindset' (not just financial wealth) they encourage in Bethel because of the need for 'Kingdom finance' to create justice, and his own disenchantment with the "Word of Faith" (prosperity gospel) movement.
I find myself deeply challenged about our finances in OCC, and whether we are expecting the God-who-owns-the-cattle-on-a-thousand-hills to provide for all of our needs, for the things he has called us to do, or whether we are settling for a cautious, frugal and uncomfortable relationship with money. He wants us to play our part in his plan to "break the chains of injustice and set the oppressed free" in the world, and much of that requires time, effort and money!
Challenge #4 prompts me to ask: Church, what are we expecting from God, as he leads us into our mission in our communities, city and world?
There's one more challenge to come, about our expectancy for God to act. Watch this space!