Monday, September 9, 2013

When a moment becomes a movement.

In August, Regions Beyond which is Steve Oliver's Apostolic Sphere (which is a part of Newfrontiers ) held a Conference in the UK .

 At the conference Steve O and others shared on what the the apostolic, what is Regions Beyond and how do we relate as different apostolic spheres that share a common history, vision and values. 

This series of blogs is very useful to helping us understand who we are, what vision shapes us and what the future holds for us.
You can find the mp3 audio recording the sermons that we will be summarizing here by  City Church Gloucester website

Session 1 - One New Man - Philemon By Steve Oliver ( Part 1)

In every gathering of people from the nations there are some significant moments for what is to come There are countless who are dependent and waiting for the outcome of this gathering- they are waiting for the church to rise up and do what God has called them to do.

When Alexander was sweeping across with his armies toward the east he reached the foothills of the Himalayas until one day his commander came to him and said that they had a problem “We’ve reached the edge of our map. There is no more to be done” Alexander’s reply “No, it time to go and draw some new maps”

It is time for us to press into new areas, and draw new maps. Moses said its time to break camp and advance. At a Conference in S Africa many, many, years ago we were encouraged to stop thinking local but global. It was a moment in time for us then. Since 1992 3000 churches have been planted in the nations as a result of that moment in God.

Their moment became a movement. We are at such a time. We have gathered for a great task in God. We have been given the task of taking the prophetic given to Newfrontiers( the wider church family that we belong to) We have been given the charge to model and pass on the values we have fought hard for and to change the expression of Christianity across the world. We’ve been asked to maintain the relationships.

There is one thing that we have NOT been asked to do and that is to camp and hold ground, rather we have been asked to multiply and take new ground.

Tonight God has gathered us from different nations for a great task and commission to what god has called us to. The question is are we ready? Our calendars are already filling up with dates to go to new countries. New Frontiers has become a group of apostolic leaders together with their teams and churches united in mission and in core values.

We have gone through a change and its easy in a time of transition to loose our way or step back and say “we’ve done our bit”. We can cease being a movement and become a monument. We have been given apostolic authority to press on to do what God has called us to.

History has not given us a model like this where an apostolic movement multiplies itself and takes nations. This movement can change things for nations. We are here for a great task. In these days lets catch the heart of God.

Our calling ourselves Regions Beyond- we feel God gave us this name and it’s a big and scary one.Today we have churches all over the place and new nations are opening up in the Middle East, African nations, Far East, Asia. This is what God is entrusting to us. We have Churches that meet in Five Start hotels and at river banks, in schools and refugee camps, at mountain sides and in villages and even under a tree! God is drawing us together and knitting our hearts. This is the start of something great.

What is Regions Beyond? It is a diverse family of Churches joined together in apostolic partnership.

We are so diverse but joined together by this wonderful call of God. Some will be entrusted to pass onto the next generation in your local church; some may go to the nations. More and more the world is in need for the church to rise up. There is a lot resting upon us.
We pick up from the fore fathers and are thankful that they have gone before us, like Ray Lowe here, Terry and others.

What does the future look like? How does apostolic partnership greatly diverse work as we reach the nations? What lies ahead? How will we train? These are not new problems. You only have to read your Bible to see how it works.

Paul is grappling with Church Planting in the nations and is facing new situations. Paul was under house arrest in Rome when he writes this letter i. e Philemon. I want to use this book to show you how the apostolic works.

A.D 60 the gospel has already spread right across the Roman world. As it spreads there are new situations, and cultures that Paul and team have to engage with.

Philemon – there was a young man Onesimus and Tychicus who were born in Colossae and is a leader of a small team. As they made their way back to Rome right across to Colossae, (Modern Turkey) it s a 1700 km journey. They are carrying two letters. One was for Philemon and the other was the church in Colossae. Philemon was a business man who was a slave owner .This journey must have taken many days.

Tychius was going back home but is different for Onesimus because there is a matter of the past that he has to face because he is a runaway slave. Onesimus used to be a slave in the house of Philemon. It was a huge decision. It could mean crucifixion or at least being severely beaten and then branded on the forehead as a fugitive.

So he had this burden and now he is in Rome. No sooner is he there that unusual circumstances begin to take place. Onesimus meets Paul and his life is transformed. Paul introduces him to the Saviour Jesus and very soon this runaway slave is a born again believer.
There is a team gathering around Paul viz. Timothy,Epaphras, Demas etc and suddenly Onesimus is a part to this team and is waiting on them and serving them. Ps 113 God when he says he raises the poor from the ash heap and seats them with princes. This slave is sitting at the table as a brother now. But at the back of his mind was the thought that he would have to face his future at some stage. If he didn't I am sure Paul had already brought it up.

As God would direct things, the owner of Onesimus is another partner of Paul’s i.e. Philemon. It must have been during Paul’s time in Ephesus that Paul meets a wealthy man who gets saved and gets caught up in apostolic mission and later returns to Colossae and to his estate.

Paul and Philemon become great friends and this comes through in the letter. The day now comes when Onesimus has to go back. It could not go on forever. But in order to make it work Paul decides to stand in the gap and write this letter on behalf of a young slave boy who has now become like a son to him because he was born out of his ministry.

Paul knows there is so much at stake here. It will have wider implications for Philemon, his household, the church that meets there and the whole town. Paul drafts a letter to the Colosssians where he lays the foundations for this. Finally the two men arrive with the letters, one to the church and one to Philemon.

Imagine the situation when Onesimus returns . Did he go to the slave’s quarters? What was the reaction of the other slaves on seeing this runaway return? Tychius goes to meet Philemon and gives him the tow letters. The bible is so relational. It’s not just about doctrine. There is so much friendship and brotherly love and we must never loose that.

So let’s see what follows? We will continue the summary of this sermon in another blog.