May I beg your patience at offset? I have just finished my second cup of coffee and breakfast burger at the Sydney International Airport and am, I confess, only now waking up. Those that know me might be aware that I am an absolute expert at being fast asleep with my eyes open. It is now almost 7 am local time and we got up at 4, after hitting the hay at 12:30.
Good morning all!
Has anyone ever realized that at times in one's live, after a specifically enjoyable experience, for example, everything seems to assume a greater radiance than before? The sky is bluer, music seems better, memories are sweet, but my father still can't sing. Well, this is one of those times for me.
We are about to bid the land of Aus farewell.
If you did not appreciate that sentimental moment, please turn off the music, tell the kids to keep quiet (hopefully none of my school mates have this problem yet – who knows what happens in my absence) and reread.
We are about to leave Australia…
Well, I know not of you, but to me, that is almost tragic. I loved Switzerland and I absolutely prized our time in Singapore, but when we left those places it felt right – like it was time to go. This is not, however, the case at present. I simply enjoyed Australia and Sydney the most thus far!
Not only was the natural beauty of the South wonderful and the animals so strange, they crawl into your heart, but the City is postcard beautiful! (Sorry Windhoek, but you're not my favorite city anymore. Don't worry Namibia, I only need to glimpse at the sun rising over the desert plastered on my desktop to know that I will never love another like I love you.) To be completely honest, though, it was not any of these that made the time here so brilliant. It was church…
To try and explain why it meant so much to me would be futile. You need to experience it. The good news is, though, that you do not need to travel to Australia to do. Just go to church! (Namibian churches, please don't disappoint me.)
I was confronted with GREATNESS while here. I sat in a GREAT church known around the world. Sang GREAT well-known songs performed by some of their original artists and songs so fast and new, I struggled to keep up. I Saw GREAT people in person: Lisa Bevere, the wife of my favorite author, John Bevere, for example. I was amidst GREAT pieces of engineering. I just came from the GREAT Singapore, a country that elevated itself to one of the cleanest, most efficient, highest literate, safest and GREATEST places on earth in one generation. I saw GREAT gatherings of 15 000 plus believers. I met GREAT leaders that have impacted the lives of millions.
And I do not mean GREAT as in wonderful or fantastic, I mean GREAT as in noteworthy, significant and leaving a legacy. GREAT like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther and Jesus Christ are GREAT. GREAT that changes the world. GREAT…
So, what is GREAT? Have you met anyone GREAT? Have you ever been to a GREAT church? Am I the only one that struggled with GREATNESS and wanting to be GREAT as these things I see are GREAT?
This is my conclusion, that GREATNESS is simply this: To be told "GREAT" by the King! Does He think my life is GREAT? Do I obey Him? Does the GREATEST Entity ever to exist live in and through me? If so, then I am GREAT!!! Catch my drift?
Would it not be wonderful if I could stop this post here, simply having encouraged you (I hope)?
Instead, I wish to share with you (church leaders please listen, this is our conclusion as a family) a few points that make the churches we have visited work:
- Salvation is a priority and it is actually achieved and not just talked about. Members continually bring unbelieving friends to church and an altar call is made after EVERY SINGLE service. I encourage this practice. These churches grow by the day!
- The church functions as a body. Each one has his or her task to fulfill. A massive number of volunteers keep the ship sailing. Some give time, doing something as simple as making coffee (cafe grade filter coffee and cappuccino) and others give skill, making sure the church is still legal.
- No one does something they are not good at. Those who talk or teach on stage do so because they are gifted to do so and not just because they are on the leadership team and it is their turn.
- The church rests on the work of a great many people and volunteers, each operating from his or her gifting and availability, not on one pastor, leader or leadership team. (This was worth a second mention.)
- Everything that is done, is done with tremendous energy, passion, commitment AND EXCELENCE. Everyone does it because the really want to (who wouldn't want to serve if you understand Christ's sacrifice for us)
- Leadership is central! (P.S. My father was not the only one who mentioned this point)
- Services are relevant. If that means you need load music, so be it, if you require a somber attitude, make sure you got it, but be relevant to the culture and context you're called to shepherd!
- Messages are Bible based, relevant and true!
- Small groups (cell groups, etc) are central.
- Discipleship training is held throughout the week.
- Saturday night services are wonderful and part of my father's dream.
- It is all about Jesus, His life, death and resurrection and the reality that He lives in us and seeks a real relationship with us. (Religion, religious practices and theology is something I last saw in the lifeless church buildings of Europe).
So, in conclusion: Namibia (and thus everyone there who thinks I am speaking to them. Yes, I mean you.) You are GREAT. I miss you. You are honestly number one. The best country in the world! (OK, so I'm madly in love with Africa and am thus biased.) But you've still got a long way to go. So start doing what needs be done!
P.S. I am awake now and plan to enjoy watching movies on the way to NZ