So I’ve just got back from this years ‘Leadership Conference’ which for me, followed right after another leadership event at the weekend. The result is that my journal is a riot of scribbled notes, sound bites and instructions to myself to ‘go further’, ‘look this up’, or ‘find out who this guy is’ and it definitely all needs some deciphering, and a few days of prayer and processing…
I am fascinated by the idea of influence. How we as individuals can influence others on behalf of God’s kingdom and how that can play out in a larger way, in society. ‘Influence’ can so easily have a negative connotation but the Latin it derives from: in-fluere meant influx, or a flowing in, which implies a more gentle feeding in of ideas. I love the idea of God’s Holy Spirit flowing into society, into the world around us, through us – like we are the gates that control how much water goes through. If we fail to recognise our role of influence, less of God’s spirit gets in. We need to recognise that and be more of an influence. I would love to see the church, or churches have more of an inflowing into the communities they serve, a gentle influx of the spirit of God, through us, God’s people.
I think it was Nicky Gumble who said at the conference, ‘be ambitious as Christians’ because otherwise we are selling God short. Nothing is too great for God, scripture tells us that, but so often we sell ourselves short and as a result we sell God short. If we believe we are made in God’s image, if we believe that through salvation Christ lives in us, if we believe as Paul says ‘I can do all things through him who gives me strength’ then what are we waiting for? Think big, dream high, be led by God and the sky is the limit.
One of the Anglican ‘Five Marks of Mission’ is ‘To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation’. So taking that a step further, I wonder, do we, as The Church or as the churches, actually seek to transform society? I still believe that the Church of England has a privileged position in society and a role to play in shaping that society. That role is fast waning, but let’s do something about that, let’s do something to help people believe in the church again, as a force for good in society. I heard a lot at the weekend about the William Wilberforce Trust and rehabilitation of ex offenders, addicts and the homeless, and it was an absolute joy to see people whose lives were broken beyond all imagination, now, clean, healed, restored, happy. What if the whole church, and by that I mean all of us, not just the ‘powers that be’, actually worked together to see transformation happen?