Thursday, September 25, 2014
A God-given strategy is spiritual
Some people are simply easier to connect with than others, in our ‘walk across the room’ – and Paul had a strategy which took advantage of that. So, says Laurence Singlehurst, should we.
WHAT would Laurence Singlehurst say to Bill Hybels’s suggestion that all it takes is for us to follow the Holy Spirit’s nudge and walk across the room to someone not in our circle?
He might say, that sounds like a strategy.
Strategy has not always been regarded in Christian circles as quite ‘spiritual’. Surely we should simply love people? Simply respond as the Spirit leads? Simply be followers of Jesus?
Laurence says, in Sowing, Reaping Keeping, p.18:
“I don’t think it is incompatible to us to be motivated by love to reach out, and as individuals and churches, also to be strategic. When we first read about the works of evangelism and expressions of love in the book of Acts, they seem very random – this encounter, that encounter, very led by the Spirit, very supernatural. But when we look closer, we see that the Holy Spirit has a strategy. He takes the Jewish believers on a journey, helping them to realise that the Gospel is for all people, and for all nations. We see in Peter and Cornelius, Philip and the Samaritans, and lastly in Paul and the Gentiles, a broadening of the influence and impact of the Gospel.
“And if the Holy Spirit Himself has a strategy, then surely it’s OK for Christians to have a strategy as well.”
In recent decades, the work of the Holy Spirit has been stressed more than anything else in the church. Of course this has brought an emphasis on hearing from God in personal revelation. However, few would argue against the need for this to be balanced by what the Bible says, as well as apparently ‘less spiritual’ principles and strategy. However, principles and strategy are in themselves biblical.
If we look beneath the supernatural works of the Holy Spirit in Acts we see the strategy that is in the big picture. Clearly Paul had a strategy for His work – we might say, a Spirit-led strategy – and it was not just based on day to day revelation.
Wherever Paul went (with two exceptions, Athens and Lystra) Paul’s ministry pattern was the same: he would find find a group of Jews, or another group of God-fearers. Did he feel a particular obligation to the Jews? The simpler explanation is that the Jews were the easiest people for him to reach initially.
• They were from the same culture as Paul – so he had no culture gap to cross.
• They understood the basic concepts of God – the Christian Gospel is rooted in Judaic beliefs.
Paul had a strategy. It was to meet the people he could most readily connect with, so that they would become his resource base for reaching others around them.
What about us? Do we have a strategy for reaching people around us? Or for reaching the easiest ones first? Do we even know who these are? Bill Hybels’ story about walking across the room, one businessman making friends with another in the same line of business, has these characteristics.
You may not be in business – but you know people who have similar interests and affinities. You go to football with them, or play golf with them, or exchange recipes and gardening stuff with them. It is not worldly to have some kind of strategy around that – in fact, it may be what the Holy Spirit has been nudging you about for some time!
Prayer, revelation and God-given strategy represents a balance, and balance between different emphases is what we know works.