COACHING CHURCH LEADERS TO LIVE LIFE AS A FAMILY CHURCH
As I sit here to write this article in our small town of Pontypridd deep in the heart of our beautiful, but desperately broken and poverty stricken Welsh valleys, I am reminded of a key verse from Col 1:27 which has captivated my heart for years and has not let go. It’s ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory.’ I suppose it’s a simple verse in many ways, but it has had a profound impact on how we have shaped our vision and values at Kindle church. The ‘Spirit of Christ’ lives in and seeks to be displayed in every part of His church, every believer, every member.
We live in a world where people are more hungry and desperate for Jesus than ever, even if they don’t realize it. Jesus is the hope of the World and He lives in His church. His bride carries within it what our communities need most. We host inside of us what they are truly seeking. Jesus himself! Therefore, we are passionate that everyone grows into maturity in Christ. That everyone functions healthily and abundantly, everyone plays their part and fulfills the calling upon their lives to literally ‘be’ Jesus in their sphere of influence.
Our heart at Kindle Church is to enable and empower every believer to fulfill the reason they were born. People are most fulfilled when they are living out what they were created for on this earth! Happy, fulfilled and purposeful individuals make for happy, fulfilled and purposeful churches, or Kingdom Communities (KC’s), as we like to call them. Our name KINDLE actually represents six core ‘cornerstones’ that hold up our house. These ‘cornerstones’ show what we are about and give a place for our vision and values to grow out of. Kindle stands for the following:
K = Kingdom
I = Identity
N = Nurture
D = Disciples of Jesus
L = Love
E = Empowered
So this leads me to one of our key questions. This question has shaped us as we have laid our foundations as a church. How do we as leaders create environments that allow and enable disciples of Jesus to grow up into maturity and fulfill their unique callings in Christ? To begin to touch on answering this I am going to draw on two key foundational areas that we are passionate about at Kindle Church that go some way to answering that question. The first is prioritizing the ‘Kingdom’ of God and the second is ‘Nurturing’ family and community life. Hence the term Kingdom Communities (KC’s).
Firstly, we passionately believe and teach that the gospel is the answer to all of life’s problems, that Jesus won for us a total victory on the cross and therefore God’s Kingdom is always advancing! He has commissioned us all as His sons and daughters, fellow
workers and co-heirs in Christ to fulfill His mission on the earth….to become mature disciples of Jesus who make other disciples and thereby by fruitful multiplication extend His Kingdom rule and reign in the earth. This requires us at Kindle to value ‘intentionality’ as individuals and as a collective church to take our callings and our growth seriously. To be open hearted, accountable, honest and humble in our weaknesses and victoriously overcome any areas that hinder our growth. To be willing to sacrifice our time, our pride and any plans that don’t line up with his will. We try to model this as leaders. To ‘intentionally’ devote ourselves to God’s word, to prayer and obedience to the Spirit and to prioritize connection with Jesus as our ‘source’. It’s when we become full of Him, we can then overflow with his love and grace and pour ourselves into others and see them grow into all they have been called to be.
All of this growth and desire to be more like Jesus is often messy and is really difficult. Therefore, growing out of our old messy and sometimes destructive ways and growing up into Christ’s ways is best achieved in the context of a loving family who spends quality time together. Therefore another ‘cornerstone’ of our house is ‘Nurturing’, more specifically nurturing loving family and community life. We see each other intentionally as a community at least three times a week. Once for accountability and discipleship in same sex groups, once for an all age community meal and on Sunday as a celebration time. We try and see this as the absolute minimum, as we believe that whilst it’s sacrificial and costs us time, its this precious time together that fosters a deep family connection, which then produces the fruit of strong healthy community.
Our heart is to produce mature disciples of Jesus who know their identity in Christ, know how they are uniquely gifted and are then released to impact their sphere of influence like only they can. I heard this quote once and love its simplicity and truth “be yourself, everyone else is already taken”. We live out our church life in smaller groups because it’s within a smaller family orientated groups and under a banner of love and honor that people relax, become themselves and will take risks to grow into their gifting’s and in faith. As leaders of Kindle church, we try to create environments that are safe and give people permission to make mistakes. Therefore, we tend to see an increase in people stepping out in faith and trying new things. For example, far more people step up and give a word of prophecy, pray for the sick, confess sin and brokenness etc when they feel comfortable to do so and know they are loved and won’t be judged by their family if they make a mistake, or don’t see a breakthrough. The Holy Spirit flows seamlessly and beautifully in an environment of love, unity, and grace and His flow and presence is really what we desire and desperately need within our communities.
Whilst we recognize that we don’t have it all together as leaders, don’t have a perfect model of church and have a long long way to go, we are grateful to God for his grace in giving us a specific vision and passion for how He would like us to be. We rest in His unique design and call for us as a church. We embrace that call as a small cog in God’s massive wheel, as He redeems His church and rescues our broken world by the power of the gospel at work within us. There really is hope for this broken world and ‘it’s Christ in us, the hope of glory’.