Keeping Jesus at the centre

We have produced a series of films to offer inspiration and guidance for community mission.  Drawing on 15 years of experience of working at a grass-roots level in UK communities, we’ve compiled 10 keys to help you unlock the potential of your project. The first video is all about maintaining spiritual passion.  You can find the entire series here.

One of the great sadnesses of Christian social action is that often those who are most committed to serving the world often lose their grip on Jesus. Organisations that start out with Jesus at the centre end up making him more and more distant from the reality of their work.  He becomes a distant memory rather than a vital presence. This post explains why this happens and sadly it happens a lot.

I want to suggest four commitments to help us resist these pressures:

1: Commitment to Jesus
Christianity is not an idea or a philosophy it is a person and that person has a name and a face- Jesus of Nazareth. One of the first signs of secularisation in an organisation is when we grow embarrassed or awkward about the name of Jesus and hide behind more ambiguous or acceptable words or phrases- God, Church, faith communities. To be a Christian is to be a follower of Jesus, dependent on Jesus and living for the glory of Jesus.

The are two icons that help make visible this commitment to Jesus- prayer and the Bible. In prayer we express our desire to grow in intimacy with Jesus, confess our dependency on Jesus and declare that the most powerful intervention we can make in any situation is to go to our Father in the name of Jesus. An organisation with a commitment to Christ will have a living and visible relationship with the Bible where we find the story of Christ.

2: Commitment to character
An organisation with a commitment to Christ will have a commitment to prioritising character over skill or ability. It’s not that the question ‘what can you do?’ is not important, it is just that the question of ‘who are you?’ is more important. An organisation with Christ at the centre will place high value on integrity and calling among it’s staff. Integrity- growing in intimacy with Jesus and growing in the fruit of the spirit. Calling- placing high value on the question: ‘What is God saying to you to do?’ We need to move beyond a work commitment to a vocational commitment.

3: Commitment to service
Jesus turned power and hierarchy on it’s head. Too often we mimic the power structures and approaches of the non-Christian world. In Philippians 2 Jesus entered into voluntary slavery so that he could win freedom for others. He calls us to do the same. We should be agonising over how we create freedom for others and incredibly sensitive to when we grasp for position and status. For Christians empowerment and service are essential Christian living not trendy management terms.

4: Commitment to church
Churches are local gatherings of those who love Jesus and want to follow Him. While there are other manifestations of Church these local groups of believers are an essential part of God’s plan for personal and social transformation. There is no Plan B. Sadly many Christian organisations get semi-detached from local Church, seeing it as difficult or obstructive or irrelevant. These might all be true and there might be lots of pain but we have to persevere. A withdrawal from real connection with local church is often the first sign of a withdrawal from Christ.

Here’s the film- what are you doing to keep Jesus at the centre?