Thanks to the church family at Wellfield for freeing Mark for a week to come down to Norfolk. He's currently speaking at 2 back-to-back student "getaways". Students from St Andrew the Great in Cambridge have gathered to be fed and watered spiritually after a busy and draining term.
Speaking as a visitor, it is thoroughly encouraging to see about 80 students (and there's more coming on Monday!) who are so keen to learn how they can best serve God. There are those who are on the path to paid Christian ministry. There are those who want to go overseas to serve God. There are also those who are heading towards huge salaries that will be able to fund Christian workers as well as support themselves.
Mark spoke this evening and I am so helped by the things he said. This evening was "The Spirit and the Church". Many Bible passages were touched on. The one that is often misused (1 Corinthians 12-14) was perhaps the most helpful. He knocked on the head "I have a gift: I must use it" mentality. Instead, that passage shows us the diversity of the church, the gifts within it, and shows us how to serve others in any way we can. The more we are frustrated that our "gifts" are not being used, or the more we want to assert ourselves in this way, the more damaging it is for our churches.
The thrust of all his talks has been "other-person centredness", something which exists at the heart of God in the trinity, and therefore must be at the heart of our churches. If God can use me to take care of you, then I can trust him that you will take care of me. What a great logic! I found it incredibly powerful, and am (I trust not the only one) going to head back to my church with a fresh sense of belonging to the people there, and a burden to love and serve them in any way needed, even if it is not the way I feel I'm best suited to serve.
Thanks to God for his word to us, to Mark for his work in teaching it, and to our church for sending him down here for this week.