Change Agents

This past weekend at our regional staff conference we had the pleasure of listening to Frans Hancke, a South African missional thinker, speaking on the theme of being change-agents in our communities. Here are some of my notes reflecting the highlights of his 3 sessions with us:

The key concept Frans wanted us to get was that “The Living God is a Missionary God!” – a quote from John Stott at the 1976 Urbana Conference. Furthermore the singular focus of God’s plan and purpose in Scripture is that God is a sending God – He sends his people, He sends His Son, he sends the Spirit, he sends the Church etc.

We then spent some time looking at John 20:19-22, where we were reminded that Jesus here speaks of a mission that would continue on after his mission. The breathing of the Spirit into the fledgling NT church is to be a symbolic reminder of God’s breathing of life into Creation in Genesis 2.

Frans then asked us whether we make enough of the incarnation in the Church today? In Acts 2 we see that God again “incarnated” himself into his body, the church. The church is the “incarnated” body of Christ. If we wish to see what Jesus is like we need only look at his body, the church to know the nature of our God. We are radically different to the world. “When you look at us (the Church) there strides Christ.” Karl Barth.

In the 2nd session Frans asked the question – what is the secret to being change agents? We spent most of the 2nd session looking at John 21. In v6 it is interesting that Jesus calls them to throw their nets out on the rights side of the boat, when nets were always thrown out on the left side of the boat. Perhaps, Frans suggested, we also need to listen and watch out for Jesus calling us to do something different, or out of the ordinary!

In v22 after Peter is re-instated, perhaps it is a small thing – but Jesus does not tell Peter to GO! Rather Jesus says “Follow me!” Jesus is already ahead of Peter on the coming mission and task – it is Jesus who is the Lord of the mission (illustrated perhaps by the fact that after the dramatic catch of fish, when they arrive on the beach Jesus already has fish on the fire?) not Peter. Further more, to go can be task-focused rather than relational. Peter is called to follow as Jesus invites Peter to join with Him on mission.

This is illustrated by the previous section, where it is interesting that instead of the more usual way of operating 1) a commissioning and 2) the reaction to that call, Jesus begins instead with a seemingly unrelated set of questions, which are then followed by Peter’s reaction and then only by the commission. What is the point? The basis for the commission and Peter’s reaction must all be found in the fundamental question – “Do you love me?” (v15, 16, 17).

Here at this crucial juncture of history – the establishing of the NT church Jesus does not speak about strategy, structure or vision – there is a more fundamental question “Do you love me?’ then “Follow me!” The “secret” to being a “change agent” is our reaction to this very fundamental question “Do you love me?”

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~ by John on July 1, 2008.

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