John talked about the messiness of a life of ministry. We are all broken people, some of whom have been redeemed and some who may one day be so. But along the way of life, we are messy.
He talked about developing and maintaining the "soil" so that healthy people can grow up out of it. Creating a church culture where people can encounter the God of the universe and grow up into Him.
I want to share some highlights of some of his points:
We must cultivate the soil with grace-giving acceptance.
The world doesn’t do grace, it does law. We must be communities of grace.
Here's a great illustration that really worked for me. John asked, "If you found a priceless Rembrandt painting covered in mud, would you treat it like mud? Of course not. Would you even consider tring to hose it off yourself? No, you’d treat it according to its true value and would take it to a master to do the cleaning."
Grace makes beauty out of messy, ugly things.
Yet the reality in our world is that church people can make it difficult to find and experience God’s grace for those who need it most. For example, the perception of the church's hatred toward gays is a huge barrier to grace for many in our culture today. Hatred toward gays smacks of LAW and PHARISEEISM. In every culture there are culturally barriers to grace. John suggest that as leaders, we must be wise as serpents and gentle as doves as we identify and tear down these barriers. He is convinced that we can removed these barriers to grace without compromising biblical truth -- and I agree.
We must cultivate the soil with authentic caring
People are longing for loving relationships – for reconciliation. Our churches need to be marked by people who walk together, pray together, and confess to one another – becoming healing agents for one another.
No longer arrogant, but authentic. Calling out the masterpiece under the mud for others.