The gospel incarnated…

Written by on June 21, 2011

One of the joys of June is hosting the facilitator training retreats in various parts of the continent. A unique collection of pastors, church staff, and lay people gather in a peer learning environment in order to be prepared to facilitate an Emerging Journey or an Equipping Experience group in their local church context. In one form or another each of these men and women have been grabbed by the Apostle Paul’s deep concern–“but we must grow up…in every way into Christ” (Ephesians 4:14-16). They find themselves asking the question, how can we walk together with others in a way that will help them grow up in every way into Christ…?  Over the past couple facilitator training retreats in Calgary, AB (Centre Street Church) and in Dyer, IN (Faith Church) I have been reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words to the believers in Thessalonica,

“So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves because you have become very dear to us.” (1 Thes. 2:8)

I have clearly noticed among these facilitators over the past two retreats that they were not there to simply get equipped with a few “tips and techniques” to facilitate, but they were ready-ing themselves to bring their whole person to their groups. Like Paul they recognized that the gospel is far more than a message we communicate with words, it is also a message incarnated in our lives by the Spirit.  Frederick Buechner’s words resound in this regard,

“And in the meantime, this side of Paradise, it is our business (not like so many peddlers of God’s word but as men and women of sincerity) to speak with our hearts (which is what sincerity means) and to bear witness to, and to live out of, live toward, and live by, the true word of his holy story as it seeks to stammer itself forth through the holy stories of us all.” (Listening To Your Life, 161)

Amen. I have found myself looking around the tables this June, growing deeply thankful for the way the Lord continues to blend such wisdom and compassion and sincerity together into such holy and personal shapes. Randy and I head to Indianapolis (specifically, White River Christian Church in Noblesville) on Thursday to host another Emerging Journey Facilitator Retreat. We are excited to see the community and conversation that develops there…Spirit of God be generous among us.

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