Knocking down and building up (Pam Smith)

Monday, 17 August, 2009

Pam SmithPam Smith explores knocking down and building up.

As an icon of ministry, I think Nehemiah takes some beating. He motivated his team and got the job done in the face of discouragement and sabotage, showing how much you can achieve if you stick to the task God has given you.

People involved in fresh expressions often feel discouraged by the reaction of other Christians. This can range from a lack of interest to outright hostility.

But I've noticed recently that even among people involved in alternative forms of church there seems to be a competitive edge, with casually disparaging comments being made about other people's ministries.

It's human nature, of course, to put people down, on the basis that 'S/he must become smaller so I may be greater' – but aren't Christians meant to march to a different beat?

I wonder if this has something to do with the way it's become acceptable in the last few years for people who don't like Christianity to treat it with contempt rather than engage in proper debate. Is this undermining our confidence in ourselves, so that we end up trying to make ourselves feel better by pointing out each other's inadequacies?

I think mission can be summarised in three instructions Jesus gave his followers:

  • Go make disciples
  • Feed my sheep
  • Love one another

I don't believe that any one of these can happen in isolation from the others.

Loving one another will at times involve offering criticism, but always constructively, in a way that builds up. Knocking things down is hard work, but building them up again once they've been knocked down is even harder.

Ask Nehemiah!

About the author: 

Pam Smith is priest in charge of i-church, an online community founded by the Diocese of Oxford. Before she was ordained she was a Reader (Licensed Lay Minister) at Coventry Cathedral and a lay prison chaplain.


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