Venturing into ‘deeper waters’

‘I hear, and I forget
I see, and I remember
I do, and I understand’

Jesus called disciples to follow him, not just to believe in Him. His training school involved teaching followers with words (they heard), as well as showing the power of His words (they saw). But in Luke 10, for example, Jesus sends 72 disciples out to have a go at mission, talking to others about the Kingdom of God, and proving the power in the name of Jesus (so they did and they started to understand).

Out of the shallow end

This pattern has definitely been my personal experience as a disciple trying to follow Jesus. I spent years sitting in church, listening (and forgetting a fair bit!). But by my mid-20’s I decided it was time to launch out of the ‘shallow end’ where I was comfortable, and I started going on mission trips each summer – Portugal, the Philippines, even Worcester, etc.!

Just like the training regime Jesus devised, I discovered (along with others) that our faith in Christ grew far more in the ‘deep end’, when moving away from the comfortable and predictable ‘shallow end’ routines. Life in Christ took off when facing the challenge of a mission project: I prayed harder, trusted God for help when trying things I would never have had the chance to try in the safety of my large and comfortable church back home. It was on these sorts of mission trips that God cultivated my gifts and calling and grew my understanding.

In our last church, a team (of all ages) went to Mozambique for a 2 week mission trip. Every one of them returned radically changed by the Spirit of God and by what they had seen and experienced. They were buzzing! And they certainly brought a renewed missional impetus and excitement back to the rest of the church with the stories they were able to tell, how God had been using them.

Although not everyone can manage a mission trip, the impact of pushing out into ‘deeper waters’, with a new activity or project, can kick start and reignite our Christian discipleship.

As a weak swimmer who lacks confidence, and naturally stays within my depth, I recognise that most noise comes from the ‘shallow end’! But there is something compelling about growth which ventures into deeper waters.  In reflecting on Jesus’ training pattern, there are specific aspects which should challenge each of us at Cambray, to check up if we are hearing, watching, and doing.

Doing something new for Christ will always stretch us and our faith, providing some of these key insights about God and life in His Kingdom:

*  We discover that God never intended spectators or passengers in His Kingdom… There’s always something for everyone to do like giving, serving, praying, going, teaching, etc.

* We grasp the exhilaration of those first disciples, when sent out and taking risks for Jesus; probably experiencing things which we never imagined ourselves doing.

* We connect with God’s heart for mission, and gain God’s compassion for broken, hurting folk all around us.

* We realise in new ways that Christianity isn’t just about Sunday services; rather it’s about serving in the name of Christ, for His love and power to transform lives.

* We can try things and have a go… It really doesn’t matter if they go wrong!

* We acquire stories to tell. I love the fact that early disciples reported back what they had seen God doing.

* We help our church to look outward, avoiding the trap of insularity.

*We get to be generous with our resources, giving away the very best to the Lord (in people and money), so that we don’t hoard.

 

Taking that concept of learning by doing, I wonder what God is calling you to do, perhaps as a mission trip for 1 or 2 weeks? Or maybe there’s a more local opportunity that needs you and your service for the next year or so?

A healthy church should always be reproducing disciples, who as communities of God’s people then reproduce new reproducing disciples.

‘Deep end’ or stay in the ‘shallow end’?

My prayerful good wishes as you deliberate with Jesus your own discipleship plan.

Tim Welch

At Cambray we aim to encourage and equip everyone to become a fully committed everyday follower of Jesus Christ

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01242 584672 Cambray Baptist Church, Cambray Place, Cheltenham, GL50 1JS