Some reflections on COURAGE from Mike Betts:
In the lead up to the recent COURAGE conference God seemed to be speaking through a picture of a jigsaw puzzle. He had just completed it and was satisfied with the picture. He then put it to one side and got another box from the shelf, opened it up and began placing the pieces together, creating a new picture.
It is now some seven years since the transition of Newfrontiers into multiplied apostolic families of churches. Phase one for us as Relational Mission, the foundation phase, is now drawing to completion. God has put things together. He has blessed us, is speaking to us and has enabled us to see something of what he is calling us to do together.
We are now entering a next phase; a new jigsaw is in God’s heart. Piece by piece he will begin to take hold of us and place us into new adventures and endeavours for him. Each of us and our churches is being lovingly, purposefully and skilfully made fruitful by him and for him. We will find once this next phase is complete it will have the word ‘COURAGE’ written large across it. We will see that COURAGE flavoured the atmosphere as we gained momentum.
That's one reason why we merged the Sent and Leadership conferences together and moved them to London this year - it was a step of COURAGE, a bold move out of the familiar and comfortable and into a new place.
I was thrilled to see the response to this call to COURAGE, both from the team, who took on a mammoth task with positivity, enthusiasm and skill - and pulled off a wonderful event - and from the delegates who embraced the challenges and came with open hearts and minds that allowed God to move powerfully among us.
Through the messages, ministry, seminars and prophetic words, we were inspired, provoked and given courage to step forward into what God is calling us to. For this year's offering we asked for a bold £100,000 (€112,000) in the offering, and by the end of the night God had blessed us with over £116,000 (€132,000)! As with our Christmas appeals, we have held the offering open a little longer, in case you missed the opportunity to give to this vision (find the details on the COURAGE page of our website). Such a generous outpouring also fills us with confidence that God is with us, empowering and equipping us for his works across the world.
The next stage of our apostolic mission looms large on the horizon: seeing large numbers come to Christ, churches planted in many nations, leaders trained and effectively deployed, much prayer stimulated, many people empowered through social justice, and the kind of gospel advance not seen for many generations in the west. Fresh adventures await.
What will be your piece of the new jigsaw God is putting together? What courageous steps is he calling you to take? For some it may be a new pioneering adventure, for others it might be committing to regular financial giving to sustain our work over the long term. Your piece may look small or large from where you're standing, but to the jigsaw-builder every piece is vital.
Don’t think that God is seeking people and churches for this task that are naturally confident, striding through life with ease. Quite the reverse. The people God uses are usually familiar with feeling afraid, weak, overwhelmed or opposed. They often encounter disappointments, mystery and perplexity. Yet they have utter confidence in God, the authority of his word and his manifest presence through the Holy Spirit. They know that he who has promised is faithful. They know that if they take COURAGE and trust God to be all he has said he will be they will see extraordinary fruitfulness, from which we can only conclude: ‘The Lord has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes’.