The Coffee Break is Over

Excerpts from the address given by President Steve Jones at Fellowship 48, November 2011.

People - Jones, SteveI address you this evening feeling humbled and a bit overwhelmed by the task the Lord and you have asked me to complete. My hope is that you will hold me accountable. My expectation is that you will pray for me as we accomplish the task. What is the task? It is to constantly commit ourselves to Jesus’ mission. We are to make disciples of all people in Canada and beyond.

John 14-17 constitutes a conversation Jesus had only hours before His death. The fact that they are His last words only gives them more weight. Our King, The King of His Church, wants us to hear His last will and testament concerning His church.

… What was on Jesus’ mind on the eve of His death?....

Jesus longs for His Father to GLORIFY Him…. How does Jesus glorify His Father? Jesus made that plain in verse 4 (ESV) saying: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” What “work” had Jesus accomplished that dispelled the darkness with God’s radiant, brilliant glory? Jesus makes that plain in verse 2 (ESV) saying: “I gave eternal life to all whom you have given me. And this is eternal life….”

Eight times in six verses in this chapter, Jesus speaks of us as a gift given to Him from the Father. We are precious to Jesus…. In a very real sense, while Jesus is the Father’s gift of love to the world, believers are the Father’s gift of love to His Son…and He commands us to share in this work of redeeming humanity, the work of “going out and making disciples” (Matthew 28:18-20), who in turn reproduce themselves.

… What are we doing to accomplish this work? What glory are we bringing to the Father within the Canadian context? What fruit bearing are our churches and missionaries and chaplains experiencing? Jesus’ expectation is stated for us in John 15:8 (NLT): “My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father”….

Our pastors and church leaders are the key. As your National President I hope to humbly call us to relentlessly pursue our FIRST LOVE. …Much of Canadian Christianity has degenerated into a form of Christianity that allows us to be Christians all of our lives, and never become disciples.

What does it mean to be a disciple?

It is a complete transformation of the SELF. .... This past year the church I was pastoring proactively pursued genuine spiritual renewal. I witnessed and experienced something I want more of. It is not that programs and campaigns and sermon series are unimportant—they are. But they can also become distractions from pursuing our first love. In fact, they can subtly contaminate our lives and our churches.

One hundred and fifty years ago, 500 people died of cholera in just 10 days in one of London, England’s neighbourhoods…contaminated by filthy water. A doctor named John Snow…was convinced that a water pump…was the sole source of the contamination. … He suggested removing the pump handle so that no one else could draw any more water…the pump handle was removed and the cholera outbreak ended….

Christian author and futurist, Leonard Sweet, wrote that coffee giant Starbucks, realized it had lost its original “pump handle” and the counterfeit they were using needed to be replaced…. On February 26, 2008, Starbucks closed down its 7,100 US coffee shops for three hours…. to rediscover and rededicate itself to its “first love”—the coffee experience.

Is my point that we all need to take a “coffee break” right now? No. In many respects I believe our Fellowship national ministry has spent the last few years discovering the “pump handle” that has contaminated our movement and rebooting our national movement.

Our former National President, Dr. John Kaiser, and our most recent Interim President, Rev. Ernest Kennedy, have done a remarkable job of exposing that pump handle and replacing it with something that has begun to help our movement become more effective. … We planted 87 churches in the 1990s. Through the first decade of the 21st century our Quebec Region alone has sought to plant 100 more churches…there [have been] 97 new churches or preaching points established in Quebec in this decade…. Despite these significant gains, it has been recognized that we have been 500 churches for two decades and our national ministries have subsequently suffered the same inertia and attrition.

Winter2012 - Coffee breakI want to make one thing perfectly clear…THE COFFEE BREAK IS OVER!

…It’s time to let the caffeine surge through our proverbial veins and rededicate ourselves to our first love and our primary purpose—to love Jesus, and to go and make disciples here in Canada and elsewhere in our world!

I don’t have a new vision, a fresh vision.… But I do have a couple of promises to make: A promise to meet with you, and a promise to encourage all of us to meet with the Lord.

… We will discover together the DREAM God has for our Regional, National and International Ministries, to ensure our churches are growing, multiplying, thriving, whether here in Canada or overseas….It is now time to put some high-octane, caffeinated fuel into the engine.

What might the Lord be calling our Fellowship movement to accomplish across our country and among the least reached people groups of the world? How might we bring glory to God?

The Commitment

Nehemiah followed a plan to discover the dream. Stage One…was the need to define the task…. In Nehemiah 2:13-15, he inspected and gathered information. In Nehemiah 2:17, Nehemiah “said to them….” The “them”…are the key leaders…the focus groups to help Nehemiah discover the dream. In Nehemiah 3, he organized all the skilled labour in dozens of work teams. By this division of labour the people gained the broadest sense of ownership to the dream. Nehemiah was a master site manager. Pray for your National Council, National Staff, and Regional Directors as we steward this inspection tour over this next year….

The Call

I also plan…to call and encourage all of us to prayer and spiritual renewal as leaders. We need to go back to our “first love.” We have good structure, good government models, guidelines, solid ministries, beautiful church buildings and capable personnel across our land and around the world. But what is the state of our hearts? May God have mercy on us if we don’t get this one right! Renewal must start with the leaders of our movement… Otherwise we…will become a second rate group of churches living on life support, talking about the “glory days,” rather than bringing GLORY to King Jesus as we pursue the dream He has for all humanity.

Let’s once again commit ourselves to our “first love.”

Jesus warned the Church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7 that they had neglected their “first love” because of BUSYNESS: Busy doing the Lord’s work. It’s not wrong to be busy, but busyness is not a substitute for intimacy…. Jesus looked at their busyness and said: “If you don’t slow down you’re going to shipwreck your faith.” Yes, we are faithful but we’re going to lose our effectiveness if we lose our “first focus.” We can’t get so busy doing good things that we lose focus on what should be FIRST in our lives.

Let’s keep connected to our “first love.”

When I was a young teen, I joined a sailing crew with my dad, and we went to the Lake of Two Mountains for a major sailboat race…. When we arrived it was hot and sunny; but there was absolutely no wind. We sat in our boats, looking at one another while our boats hardly moved at all. Then our skipper turned the rudder and we pulled off from the rest of the pack. They wondered what we were up to…. But we obeyed our skipper. He said, “Go,” (I think Jesus told us to “Go” once!) and so we went.

Very soon we saw where he was taking us… he had seen a section of the lake where the wind was blowing…. The skipper yelled out the order and we got busy. The main sail filled with wind…. Our sailboat cut through the water like a knife…. I was thrilled. I was pumped. I was thirsty! Leaning over the side the boat I watched the water go by. I went to cup some water to my lips and our skipper yelled, “Jones, don’t you dare, you’ll slow the boat down!” My little hand could lose us the race.

Some little distraction could stall our forward movement.

I put my hand back on the rail and watched the other sailors, on their slow moving boats, watch…as our boat raced past them to the finish line.

My friends, the coffee break is over. The structures are complete. It’s time to pursue mission. Our Fellowship’s best days, her “glory days”, are still ahead of us.