Stewarding Our Vocational Power in the New Year

Are you thinking about how to approach life and discipleship in the New Year? Our resolutions can’t all be about weight loss, can they?! If you are giving thought about how to integrate your faith into all of life, maybe this short talk I gave during a Flourish San Diego learning community session this last year could help spur on your thinking and pursuing:

We set out to build a church, and we come across the promise of gifting for the benefit of the church and the kingdom…

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, [5] so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. [6] Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them:..” Romans 12:4–6(ESV)

“There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—[5] one Lord, one faith, one baptism, [6] one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. [7] But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” Ephesians 4:4–7 (ESV)

Then over time, we adapt this list to the programmatic needs of the church. We focus on hospitality, who will welcome and serve those that attend our church? Musical gifting, who can we train to lead musical worship in the church? Teaching Children, who will tackle the ever-present need to serve in ministry to kiddos? On and on it goes. Practical needs surrounding the weekly gathering of the church take precedent.

We tend then to not recognize gifting but need and pigeonhole people into meeting them.  We might see vocational expertise but we see them through a lens of what they can do for the church. So we tap the graphic designers or electricians to do the work of the church and trust that the successful entrepreneurs will give lots of money to the church.

What then develops over time is perhaps a big machine. The only thing that matters is the machine and our sense of mission, place, and vocation are sacrificed on the altar of church success. But this is not the church we find being built in the New Testament… 

There is another way, yes gifts are given by the Spirit for the health and flourishing of the body, but that is not exclusive to within the walls of the church, because the church flourishes when all of its parts, all of its members recognize and use the passions, talents, opportunities for kingdom good. 

This is discovering and stewarding our vocational power. 

This is seeing people as individuals with various gifts, called to be a redemptive, renewing force in our world, that others may experience the renewal that is found in Christ. 

This is the equipping for ministry the church is called to, laboring to expose and give examples of how vocation is sacred and our place has a purpose. Shall we be about this work? Let’s.

Worthwhile December 21, 2018

Here are some worthwhile things to read or check out, birthday edition! Today I turned 41. Older and wiser by the day!


Christmas is a joyous time, but for some of us, it can be a difficult and depressing time. David Murray has a letter if that is you, or if you want to be a help to those struggling. Read it here.


As China continues a crackdown on Christian churches, it is a good time to revisit Wang Yi’s letter to his church. He is a pastor under arrest.


Finally, as we head into Christmas weekend, check out this short show of the birth of Jesus. I will be showing it to my family Christmas morning and I think you will be encouraged by it.

Worthwhile – December 14, 2018

Tomorrow my oldest child turns nine. Next week I turn forty-one. Clearly I have much to learn of both being a parent and being an adult. So take everything I say with a grain of salt, or sugar, whichever is your preference. Or maybe you should kill your preferences… 

This week’s worthwhile is short because I found myself scheduling appointments for vehicle maintenance, replacing a windshield, and shopping at thrift stores for new soccer cleats for Junior. 


All abuzz in the Twittersphere was Andrew Sullivan’s column on America’s New Religions. He takes swipes at yoga, progress, and Trump. Still, it is important to think through the ways idolatry has become religion. Even those that claim faith in Christ but means really just right-leaning politics etc. Sullivan uses more words than necessary but brings up some important points for all sides to consider. And we can all pray for a resurgence of vital Christianity in our day. 


Speaking of vital Christianity, Sunday in China the government began to persecute and crack down on members of Early Rain Covenant Church, an unregulated “house church.” One of the pastors of the church encouraged members to keep meeting no matter how many staff or elders were imprisoned. Of his own situation Wang Yi said:

“Those who lock me up will one day be locked up by angels. Those who interrogate me will finally be questioned and judged by Christ.  When I think of this, the Lord fills me with a natural compassion and grief toward those who are attempting to and actively imprisoning me. Pray that the Lord would use me, that he would grant me patience and wisdom, that I might take the gospel to them. 

“Separate me from my wife and children, ruin my reputation, destroy my life and my family – the authorities are capable of doing all of these things. However, no one in this world can force me to renounce my faith; no one can make me change my life; and no one can raise me from the dead.”

https://christiandailyreporter.com/faithful-disobedience.html

Read Yi’s letter here and please be praying for the church in China. 

Brewing Leaders

Almost ten months ago at our church, I invited a small group of guys to purposefully hang out once a month to read about and discuss issues from a gospel-oriented perspective. We have talked about defining the whole gospel, what it means to love our neighbors, how to form deep relationships in the church, preventing and exposing abuse, seeing our careers as the avenue we can do good for the glory of God, and how the church can become a “creative minority” in our culture. We meet each month on the third Thursday in local brewpubs or tasting rooms (which we have plenty of in San Diego) so we called it ‘Brewing Leaders.’ Of course not everyone in the group drinks…

Originally the group was formed to give me more one-on-a-few time with those beginning or continuing to lead in the church and model a discipleship context that could be replicated when each of them begins their own group. But design doesn’t always meet real life and there has been an increasing desire from other guys in the church to participate in something similar.

To that end, in September, I am planning to launch two new groups for guys to study the same articles and have the same discussions in a new relational context. And instead of being invite only, I am opening the group to any guy at Reservoir who wants to participate and can commit to attending regularly.

The new groups will be “Bottled Leaders” on the first Thursday of each month, and “Boba Leaders” on the fourth Thursday of each month. As the names imply, the Bottled gang will stick to the brew-pub/bottle barn venue and the Boba dudes will stick with non-alcoholic beverages which may be highly preferred for a few of us.

So if you are a guy, part of Reservoir Church, and interested in leadership in the church, home, and culture, jot me a note at jonathan[at]reservoirchurchsd.org and let me know which of the two new groups you are interested in.

Six is an optimal number for each group so once we hit that number we will close the opportunity for this season. Of course, if the interest is outrageous, we could always have a “Donut Leaders!”

And ladies, if you are interested in something similar let me know as well as we are trying to form a group for you along the same lines.