26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
In the earlier verses of Genesis chapter one, God said, “Let there be…,” and it was. When we get to verse 26 the scene changes and now God said, “Let us make man in our image.” Now God leaves no doubt in our minds that the triune God is going to be involved in making man not just one of the persons. The verse states that God (the triune God) took the dust of the earth and formed the man. He could have said let there be man and there would have been man just like was done for the plants and animals; man would have been a living, breathing being. But, the word indicates that like a sculptor molds a statue, God molded a man. When he was done molding the man, the word says he breathed into him the breath of life and then man became a living soul. From this we learn that each human being, no matter how the egg was fertilized, is special. As it says in the Psalms, God shapes our inner parts in the womb. That is how special we are to God. He takes interest in the smallest details of our lives and is with us every moment of every day, breathing his breath of life into us.
There are many people serving in ministry who are motivated by what may be called “good intentions.” What they may not realize is their good intentions may not fall in line with what Jesus exemplified for us in ministry. This can be the cause of much frustration in ministry.
We all realize people have inherent needs, and many go into ministry with the high aspiration of helping people in need. Some even go so far as entering ministry because they need to feel needed. Frustration occurs when you realize you aren’t enough – you can’t meet all the needs of all the people in your congregation, and you can’t have your own needs met. This is true whether you have 500 people to serve or 10 people. Don’t be discouraged, though—many in ministry face this at some point. Frustration can easily lead to burnout. If you are feeling this way, please talk to someone. You’ll realize you are not alone.
Part of the problem is that our good intentions can be founded on something other than Jesus. This happens when we believe – or are made to believe – that we should have all the answers, or that no one else can do the job as well as we do it. Statements such as, “You are the best pastor we’ve ever had and you have saved my life” or, “I don’t know what I’d do without you – don’t ever leave or stop being our ministry leader” can produce what is called the “Savior Complex” – the tendency to seek people who desperately need help and to assist them, often by sacrificing your own needs.
While this may sound noble, there are some real problems. First, the person being helped soon comes to expect the attention and help and does not take responsibility for their own circumstances. Second, the leader is taking on the role of savior that can only be filled by Jesus. As GCI pastors and elders, we don’t want members to view us as their rescuer; we are elders called to serve. We want them to always look to Jesus. We can listen, visit, encourage, teach, coach and pray with members, but we cannot do what Jesus does. He is the one who heals, redeems, forgives and saves.
Many of us have fallen into this way of thinking at some point in ministry. Don’t get discouraged or lose hope if the Holy Spirit is pricking your heart right now. Healthy church begins with healthy leadership, and our goal is to help all become the best expression of health we can be. To be healthy, we need to understand some of the pitfalls we face.
At the heart of the savior complex is the ugly human expression of pride. Pride is what causes us to stumble and fall (Proverbs 16:18). Pride, or arrogant eyes, is one of the seven things that God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19). Pride was the undoing of Lucifer, and it is a subject worthy of our attention.
Pride seeks out the chief seats and the attention of the important people. In the British comedy series “Keeping Up Appearances,” Mrs. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet) is constantly trying to gain social status and become part of the social elite. Unfortunately, she commits faux pas after faux pas and each episode revolves around her latest. The real tragedy is that her actions cause her to look past, or step on the weak and the less popular on her journey toward high society. We watch the show and laugh, while mindlessly getting drawn into the practice of being a respecter of persons. Pride wins the day.
The sickness of pride also causes us to dwell on the shortcomings of others – often with contempt, irritation, frustration, or judgment. When we do this, we are looking on them as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:16 “from a worldly point of view,” and not seeing them as other human travelers who are also under the shed blood of Jesus. This doesn’t mean we don’t acknowledge and work through challenges and misunderstandings with our brothers and sisters, but we do so with Jesus in the bigger picture.
Recognition and confession of pride is the beginning of the healing process. While it seems to be easy to see pride in others, pride within ourselves is not so readily identified. Pride is insidious; it is the fuel that fills our earnest need for attention and respect, and therefore it is hard to detect its stronghold in our lives. Pride has an insatiable hunger for attention and respect; it’s easy to be fooled and call this an internal drive. (I see it more frequently in myself than I want to admit)
One of the greatest pitfalls is that pride is the enemy of humility and teachability. We use the adjective “stubborn” to describe pride because it is hard to shake off.
In the October meetings with our GCI leaders we focused on how our roles are to be as “bond-servants”; not thinking of ourselves as executives or superiors. We don’t ever want to be filled with anything but humility and love for others. We often pray together for God’s intervention and blessing.
Even if this does not seem like a battle you are fighting, please swallow any pride and join me in setting this matter in its proper place – before the eternal throne of justice and mercy. Let’s confess and pray the words of David recorded in Psalm 139:23-24:
Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!
May we be humble and teachable people in GCI as we continue our quest for Healthy Church!
The Women of Edgehill Community Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio would like to invite you to their 16th Annual LiLY (Living Life for You) Conference “Joy Intact,” held April 26th-28th, 2019 at the Embassy Suites in Beachwood, Ohio.
This is a weekend filled with wonderful worship, inspired speakers, lots of laughs and simply enjoying the presence of the Lord. The conference is attended by a diverse group of women and teens (Bonfire Sessions for ages 13-17) from every stage on their journey. We come from different churches and denominations. We are about meeting at the feet of Jesus and making him known.
We keep the registration prices low ($70 early bird special), meals are included and you can fill your suite with up to six women to cut the cost of the hotel. This is a great opportunity for you, your family or group of friends to come together and share a weekend in Christ with no judgment or expectations.
Grace Communion International Netherlands and Flanders are going “outside the walls”.
Jesus is doing something wonderful in Tiel! Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, there is a desire among Christians in Tiel to set up an outreach project together. A building has been bought from which various Christian ministries can be a blessing for the inhabitants of Tiel. This building is a former elementary school, with 30 rooms, and is now known as Christian Center TOV.
Grace Communion International is also active in this enterprise. GCI participates with 4 rooms in the TOV Christian Center in Tiel; a storage room, an office space for our board and ministry meetings, a counseling room and a living room for small group use and worship rehearsals. Grace Communion Netherlands co-invested in the building, and also brings in volunteers to join in with the activities.
In Christian Center TOV we work together with local churches and the TOV Foundation to fight poverty in Tiel. There is a small supermarket where the poor get to choose their weekly groceries for free. Weekly several dozens of shopping bags are filled for them. Twice a week free meals are cooked in the restaurant, which about 30 to 40 people attend. This ministry started in 2015 and quickly grew. In 2016 and 2017 alone 2600 grocery bags and 6500 free meals were handed out, plus 1500 takeaway meals. With the new building and more volunteers, this ministry is expanding.
Several members from our local GCI church “de Hoeksteen” (Cornerstone) are involved in different ways. Berdien Kreuger and her father Martin Hessel rent a room with their business to help people with debts, and her sister Judith Dalm works there as well. Renée Blom works in TOV as a paid activity supervisor for people with a mental disability.
Maarten de Moei works as a full-time volunteer as caretaker of the building, counselor, activity supervisor, and board member. Because of these jobs, he lives in the Center. Ferry Heeren is part of TOV’s worship team, Denise de Moei is involved in the Christian bookshop, supports the counseling team and is a board member, and Hans de Moei helps with public relations and finances, and is part of the Supervisory Board of TOV together with a Reformed pastor.
Other activities involve a gym, painting classes, church services, prayer meetings, supervising people with government-mandated community service, and a restaurant where people can walk in during the day for a cup of coffee, tea and/or lunch in which you pay according to what you can afford. All facilitators are Christian.
TOV is financed by gifts and donations, by renting out spaces and from the income they receive for working with their clients with mental disabilities. The directors of TOV do not receive a salary and neither do the volunteers.
On 11 and 12 January 2019, our Christian Center was officially opened with an all-day walk in and an interdenominational worship service. This meeting was attended by about 120 people from all kinds of churches, and the Holy Spirit was reverberating present with sparks of enthusiasm being felt in the service. God shows that he can still work miracles together with his church and that as believers confess the name of Jesus and work together great things can happen! The common factor to work together as different churches to make Christ known in Tiel and surrounding areas is godly love, not programs in itself.
We look forward with much positive anticipation, trusting God in what he will do with TOV and Grace Communion for the good of the community of Tiel.
Visiting Israel is like reading a Fifth Gospel – so much comes to life. We saw where Jonah ran from God, and where Paul was held prisoner. We saw where Elijah battled with the false prophets of Baal, and we walked the route the mob took Jesus to throw him off the “brow of the hill.”
We walked through the city gates and into the area where Solomon had his stables, where Ahab built a tunnel to get water in times of siege, and we overlooked Armageddon. We visited the town of Mary Magdalene and stepped on the threshold of a synagogue Jesus preached in. We saw a 2,000 year old boat and then took a boat across the Sea of Galilee.
We visited the Mount of Beatitudes and the shore where Jesus preached. We saw the ruins of Jericho and rededicated ourselves at the baptismal site on the Jordan river. Then we spent three days in Jerusalem and walked where Jesus walked. We prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane and took communion at one of the proposed sites of the Garden Tomb.
All with a group of people whom I love dearly. A trip that changed my life. If you have the opportunity – go without hesitation. Maybe I’ll go with you.
January is one of my favorite times of the year because of GCIgnite! I look forward to it every year because I get to visit with friends from across the globe and anticipate meeting new ones. An integral part of GCIgnite is its welcoming atmosphere. There is great significance in being able to come just as we are: to come with our questions, burdens, and brokenness. Throughout the gathering, we learn that we are not alone and others seek answers too.
What’s amazing about this four-day summit is that we as a community learn and find answers from the Word, God’s voice, and from one another. It’s impossible to leave without having gained a new perspective of something, especially of our Triune God. The Spirit shows up and somehow reveals himself to each of us personally and reminds us of our calling, gently convicts us to do it, and reassures us that he is with us all the way. As the curious group is reminded of who God is, the answers are clear with the how’s and why’s. A safe and loving place where we are pushed and equipped to lead and serve others as we go back to our local contexts is what GCIgnite is all about.
The theme for 2019 was Renew: renewing our self, worth, rhythms, and our love for our neighbors. The gist of the theme is renewing all parts of our lives to be transformed by the living God who is constantly shaping us as he works through us. Our God is inviting us every single day to participate in this adventure with him and with others. There is beauty in knowing that through renewing our hearts and minds before God, our everyday life which can seem mundane, is turned into something wonderful as it becomes worship and as our response becomes an active choice of saying yes to him and trusting him completely.
Workshop sessions are where we dive into the details of Ignite’s theme. We were given the opportunity to step out of our comfort zones as we share and discuss such important topics as leading with doubt, sexuality, processing social media and current events, conflict resolution, and holistic love. Some of the workshops challenge us to shift our lenses and see things in a clearer, more meaningful way, like Rediscovering the Bible, Renewing Prayer Life, Church Worth, Financial Rhythms, and Rhythms of Self-Care. In these workshops, we are able to learn, share, and equip one another through the Spirit.
Pouring our hearts out through singing, worshipping God through art and journaling, playing board games, ping pong, and basketball, fellowshipping with one another under the snow, sharing a meal, praying with someone, dancing, lip sync competitions, taking photos together, and staying up to continue conversations that are honest and life-giving are some of the activities that happen at GCIgnite. There is so much joy in doing these little things because we get to do it with one another and Christ’s presence is pervasive through every single activity.
One of my highlights was taking the 5 Voices assessment and learning the gifts God has revealed in me. Through this, we were able to know ourselves more and what God has called us to do. It is so reassuring to think that he has designed each of us so intentionally and uniquely that we are invited to participate in the Kingdom work here on Earth, helping the body of Christ reach its full potential. Another highlight for me was when we walked around the room encouraging others and being encouraged. This time set to affirm someone of their gifts and be affirmed allowed us to feel seen, heard, needed, and loved by our GCI families.
We also gathered to share and pray for our local churches. This conference really is important for intergenerational ministries as the young adults are being empowered by each other and by people with more experience and wisdom to be the next leaders of GCI churches. Through this conference, we are reminded that when we go back to our local contexts, we should also start to pray for eyes to see who the next leaders of GCI are from our youth and children’s ministries. I am so grateful to be part of this church in which we are continually being filled up by others and being able to fill up others.
Do you attend a GCI church? Enter to win our 2018-2019 GCI Photo Contest and submit photos of your healthy church.
Prizes include, $100, $200, and $300 Amazon gift cards!
Submit Your Photos Before March 17.
I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me (John 10:14).
Shepherds and their sheep have deeply intimate relationships. Jesus our good shepherd knows us by name and guides us through life’s valleys and mountaintops. When we run the other way, he goes in search of us! His relentless love pursues us. Our good shepherd laid down his life for us, knowing the details of all we would think and do. He didn’t redeem our ideal lives – he sacrificed himself to redeem the actual life we are living today.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” With these words, Jesus is not only revealing a truth about who he is, but how he feels about us. He knows and loves our whole story. Sheep are utterly dependent animals. They physically cannot rest until all their needs are met. In the comforting presence of Jesus we can relax and let go of our fears.
Prayer: Jesus, we thank you that you are faithful to supply all my needs. Help me to see how you providing for me today, and make me aware of how I can share your love and provision with those around me.