Onwards, upwards, better!

I am having a lot of fun writing this blog. It has been especially rewarding to hear from readers. Thank you for every comment and like, but an especially big thank you for every email and resulting conversation. I have also received several donations, and this will enable me to try more things. Thank you!


In my early years as a preacher my sermons often were long-winded and boring, especially when I did not prepare well. Always remember this: the longer a sermon takes to deliver, the less preparation went into it. And yes, you can quote me to your pastor on this… 😊 What you choose not to say, is just as important as what you end up saying. If you speak every thought, idea or fact you discovered in your research, it becomes a whole lot of clutter that only God can use. And the fact that he uses a sermon is not evidence that it is well crafted. It is merely evidence of his amazing ability and loving grace.

Blogging has similar challenges. It is important to communicate effectively. Everyone’s attention span has decreased and there is a lot of media out there competing for these shorter attention spans. Reading is not the most popular way to consume media and I have a face for radio, not tv… 😊 Despite this obvious limitation, I will be trying my hand at short videos somewhere soon. I also have a short e-book in the pipeline in the belief that there are still people out there who read. Let’s see what works.

The specific method of communication is not important. The message is. And that it is communicated effectively enough for it to actually have an impact. In search of methodology that works, I have been consuming more media than ever before. This specific post is a bit of a rant in response to what I found out there. It will also double-up as a statement of intent regarding this blog that I hope you will hold me accountable to in the years ahead.

I am writing as a Christian sharing with readers my journey in search of the ‘unforced rhythms of grace’ found in a relationship with Jesus. It is my hope to be open, honest, transparent and authentic.

1.      I love the church

The church is not perfect, mostly because you and I and people like us fill the church. 😊 However, there are things I wish we would stop saying about one another.

  1. A congregation is small because the truth is preached there.

Have you heard that somewhere or seen it in a meme? It is simply not true! The truth sets people free and people find that irresistible. How on earth can the good news regarding Jesus be a growth limiting factor?!? It sounds self-righteous and like a mere excuse for our inadequacies. Higher truth is not found in stricter rules or a more aggressive stance towards sin. It is found in the revelation of the unfathomable grace of a loving Saviour.

I love small churches where the God-given DNA is such that a small group of people can have a huge impact on their community. It is not because they are more holy, or their message is truer (read harsher). It is simply because their God is amazing and can do anything with anyone and sometimes prefers to do more with less, as he did with Gideon’s army.

  1. A congregation is large because of compromise and heresy.

I have never pastored a mega church and part of me would want to believe this statement. It would absolve me of failing to grow a church that large, but it is simply not true. The strength of leadership required to grow and keep a large congregation requires a uniquely gifted individual and a strong team. Don’t be fooled by the celebrity created by media and the glamour of thousands in attendance. That person is a sinner saved by grace (just like you and me), trying his or her best to say yes to God’s call.

Yes, more people hear about their failures, but you are not better because fewer people hear about yours. In my opinion, pastors of mega churches have two things in common.

Firstly, they are brilliant communicators. Whatever the emphasis of their preaching, they preach well. Yes, there are good communicators in small churches too. However, there are no bad or average communicators in large congregations and many in small congregations.

Secondly, they have a strong team around them who are strong in the areas of leadership that they are not. There are just too many skills required to make a success of a larger church for any one person to do it all. One person may be in the spotlight on the receiving end of a celebrity status that you and I erroneously accept as fact. However, behind the scenes, you will find a strong, dynamic team of God’s servants labouring as hard and as faithfully as you and I. Average, flawed people have built huge churches because they first built a strong team.

It is difficult to pastor a big or a small congregation. The answer to both challenges is the same. We simply need to stay connected with the head of the church.

It is my determined choice to always celebrate the church in this blog. She is beautiful in all her forms and from her will be shaped an eternal and spotless bride. Jesus loves her. I will treasure her.

2.      Living inside out

Sometimes I feel so despondent when I discover more that I should be or could be doing to grow as a Christian. It is often the conclusion I come to after listening to a sermon or teaching or reading a blog. Being a Christian can be very hard work, but it should not be!

The gospel is good news! Does that sound redundant? For many, the gospel has become a to-do list of things necessary to please God or grow as a Christian. The whole Old Testament proves that the harder we try the more we will fail. The news that is good is that we do not have to try anymore!

Your new birth happened inside of you. God’s Word works inside of you. As you place your trust in him and surrender to him, life flows from the inside out. Growth and good deeds are the fruit of what happens inside you.

Sometimes our messages focus on the pruning of a tree or we try to glue fruit onto the branches. We should be trusting him and surrendering to him, and life and fruit will flow from our union with him.

I will write often about the freedom that is found in all that Jesus did for us. My hope is to help you reject burdens loaded unto you and to plug into the power of living in and through him. The cry of my heart is found in The Message Bible Mat 11:28-30.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

I’m not living as freely and lightly as I could right now. However, I am far better than two years ago. The ‘unforced rhythms of grace’ found in relationship with Jesus is my quest. I hope you will join me!

@reonlouw

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2 Replies to “Onwards, upwards, better!”

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