Update from Belfast #4

BelfastUpdate4 I’m on a bus headed back to Dublin. So begins the long trek home. I came over to see the work in our partner church, Village Belfast, and to serve and encourage Lucas and Su, their family, the church and its leaders in any way I could. Along the way, I was deeply encouraged and refreshed. My time in Belfast has been a huge blessing to me. In the next post I will list some of the things I have learned. For now, here’s a recap of my last few days here.

On Monday Lucas and I went to a leadership conference at Glenabbey, Village’s sending church. The conference filled the bulk of the day and included teaching and panel discussion with Alistair Begg and Keith Getty. Alistair’s talk was a winding reflection on The Dangers and Delights of a Long Ministry in One Place. He has served now for over 30 years in his church in Ohio. It was inspiring for me to hear the wisdom of a man who has served God well for so long. As the pastor of a very young church plant, I struggle at times to have a long view of the work and make too much of smaller challenges and opportunities. Alistair’s reminders and perspective were hugely helpful.

Keith Getty spoke on music in the church, which makes some sense. He painted a beautiful picture of the importance of music in the church before moving into a section on principles to facilitate worship through music. It is so important to see that God’s people have sung throughout human history and, through their singing, have learned their faith, carrying songs through their lives. Much of what Keith had to say was a great encouragement to me, affirming the foundation we have laid for worship through singing in Redemption Hill Church.

On Tuesday and Wednesday Lucas and I got to work together on structures and an organizational foundation for Village. Village is moving from being primarily a house church into being a small church. The leaders are rightly seeing the importance of greater clarity and purposefulness in the organization of the organism that is the church. So, I worked to further understand the vision they have for how they will continue to build, and then we worked together on some documents to move that direction. These things aren’t the fun or sexy side of church planting and leadership, but they are essential and important.

Tuesday night I was able to join one of Village’s neighborhood groups. It was great to gather for dinner, study the Bible, and to pray with each other. I loved seeing the community in action and hearing reflections on how God was speaking to them through His Word. Then on Wednesday night I had dinner with Lucas a couple of men who are being trained into leadership. Over dinner we were able to talk through what it means to be an elder in a church, how elders interact together as a team, and some of the stories of our journey at RHC.

So that rounds out my trip. I’m so grateful to Lucas, Su, and their kids for welcoming me into their family and their lives for the past ten days. I hope I was able to be a fraction of the encouragement to them that they were to me. I couldn’t be more excited for the folks at Village. They’re in a transition phase right now, but I believe God will do incredible things in and through them in the coming year. The community Jesus has begun to build by His Spirit is beautiful and it will be fun to see that begin to increasingly spill outward. I’m grateful that I, and all of us in RHC, get to stand alongside with our brothers and sisters in Belfast.

P.S.  I wish I could bring a bike back with me from the boys at Fellow. Thanks for the shirt mates. Maybe next time...