Moving on from Here
This message was originally given by Stephen Harbridge at Conference 2019.
It has been reformatted from his sermon notes for distribution.
It’s hard to believe it’s been four years since I was elected as DS at conference 2015. Franklin Pyles congratulated me and said, “You’re in for a ride.” Conference 2019 seemed so far away, but here we are.
A mile marker—A point on a journey used to reassure travelers that the proper path is being followed, and to indicate distance travelled and/or the remaining distance to a destination. Time to pause; to reflect on where we’ve been, to celebrate what God has done for us; to check our direction and set a course for the next four years.
Reading through Matthew—“Moving on from there”—phrase repeated multiple times. It inspired my message…Jesus was always moving on…
Everyone has a “Here” and Here has two “There’s”—BACK and UP. How we are postured will determine our direction and progress. Paul talks about Moving On in—Phil 3:16b—“forgetting what is behind…etc.”
Three requirements…Freedom from the Past—Vision for the future—Perseverance
My speech in 2015 was entitled “It is Time”—Eccl 3:1. I’m happy to report that we are not where we were 4 years ago. With God’s help and the hard work of so many people, we have moved on from THERE to HERE. We have…
Improved the goodwill of the DMC by loving our pastors and adding value to them and their churches…
Healed old wounds, repented of past wrongs, made every effort to seek reconciliation and restore unity…
Renewed our dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit for our lives and ministries…
Restructured our district into regional church networks under the care of regional coach
Significantly increased our investment in new venture initiatives…tri-district…
Increased the number of churches engaged in a new venture ministry…
Improved and deepened our relationship with our IW’s…
Developed and implemented tools for improving the health of our workers and churches…
Revised and simplified our accounting practices and reporting statements…
Created Pathways School of Ministry to develop new leaders…20 graduates this year
Rebuilt our licensing and ordination programs to align with our vision for developing people…
Revised our vision and values to encourage a culture of development on the core values of equity, unity, stewardship and service…with love as our code of conduct.
Renovated and repurposed the former district office building into an 8 bedroom, 6 bath guest house to provide affordable accommodations for students and district church leaders...
And…We have navigated through some serious adversities and assisted several of our churches and pastors to do the same.
If it sounds like I am boasting…I am. But I am not boasting in myself. I am boasting in the Lord…Psalm 126:2—“Then it was said among the nations, “What amazing things the Lord has done for them.” Yes, the Lord has done amazing things for us! And we are full of joy!
NOW we are HERE. We are not where we want to be four years from now.
What time is it now? It is time to move on from here.
Move on…in Holiness
“Holiness of heart and life. This is not the perfection of the human nature, but the holiness of the divine nature dwelling within.” ~ A. B. Simpson
Where’s the holiness? Where’s the evidence of His presence? What else will distinguish us?
Holiness is personal transformation into the likeness of Christ by the power of the Spirit
“So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed (transformed) into his glorious image. (with an ever-increasing glory).” 2 Cor. 3:18 NLT
Transformation is Change—attitudes…thinking…behavior…how we live, love and lead
The “formation” of Christ in you—is manifested in your transformation.
I want to move on in my own transformation…in holiness. To be a better man, husband, father, friend, leader.
Will you commit to moving on with me?
Move on…to Maturity
The Maturity Continuum—Dependence—Independence—Interdependence
The place of greatest emotional, relational and spiritual maturity is Interdependence.
“Mature Christians…are not always trying to promote their loyalty to God by their independence from others.” ~ Simpson (Mature churches are not independent)
The language of dependence is…”I need you FOR life.”
The language of independence is…”I don’t need you.”—Independent leaders and churches are focused on individual success, often at the expense of others. Doing their “own thing”.
The language of interdependence is… ”I need you IN life, but not FOR life.”
Interdependent leaders and churches value relationship, partnership, collaboration.
They understand the effect of working together is exponentially greater than alone.
This is the model of the Godhead & desire of Jesus—Jn.17…”I in you; you in me; them in us; us in them”.
This is the language of Eccl 4—“Two are better than one because they will get a better return on their investment.” (Help each other up; keep each other warm; keep each other safe)
This is the language of 1 Cor 12—“The eye can’t say to the hand ‘I don’t need you’…
The Alliance is not an association of independent churches! But a community of interdependent churches on mission together.
Interdependent leaders and churches value belonging to this Alliance, want to belong and want to invest in our joint ministries…district and global.
Participating in the regional church networks matters.
Investing in our District and Global ministries matters.
Partnering in new venture initiatives matters.
The game is never won by a collection of individual superstars. The mission will not be achieved by a few super churches. We will win together or we will lose together.
We have made progress over the past four years, but I want to move on from here to a greater interdependence and anticipate the extraordinary effects of that unity.
Will you commit to moving on with me?
Move on…to mission
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ~ Acts 1:8
My speech in 2015—It is time to be Spirit-empowered!
In the past 4 years we’ve experienced a deeper life renewal—fresh HS encounter—experiencing renewed power—gifts, signs and wonders, BUT…ALL THIS MUST LEAD TO INCREASED MISSION or we will completely miss the target!
Deeper life AND mission, as though they are separate truths…but Deeper Life FOR mission.
The early church “preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs following.” Mk 16:20
The early church “filled Jerusalem with their teaching”, (Acts 5:28), not their buildings with Jerusalem.
Deeper life of the Spirit was and is a means not an end; not the end in itself.
I want us to be empowered by the Spirit of God, but to move on to mission.
My hero—Next to Jesus—Buzz Lightyear—Doesn’t know what he can’t do.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” Eph 3:20
God is able to do “beyond” what you are asking, budgeting, risking or even imagining.
God is only glorified when we dare to go beyond.
“We need a larger vision. All great movements begin in great ideas…Our God has boundless resources. The only limit is in us. Our asking, our thinking, our praying are too small. Our expectations are too limited.” ~ Simpson
Move beyond—beyond our walls…beyond our fears...beyond our limitations…beyond our comforts…beyond our borders…beyond our own culture…beyond our traditions…beyond our budgets…beyond to go to new places, new initiatives, new methods to reach new people with the gospel of Christ.
Moving beyond requires risk—Sometimes even appears reckless and unsafe. (E.g. Abraham—Moses before Pharaoh—Peter—Hall of faith in Heb 11). History is filled with men and women of God who risked everything to advance the kingdom of Christ. Are we courageous enough to move beyond where we are or where we can even imagine. To risk humiliation, failure and shame to advance the gospel. To move out of the natural into the supernatural. To see God glorified in the CCD.
What is BACK THERE that you need to let go of to be free to move on?
What does your HERE look like?
What does UP THERE look like for you, your church, for us?
Would you dare to dream and risk moving “beyond”?
What time is it now in the CCD?
It is time to move on from here. Who wants to move on with me?
Written by: Stephen Harbridge
Central Canadian District Superintendent
of the C&MA