11 Jan, 2022 Key pulpit themes in view of the global reset

Key pulpit themes in view of the global reset

What if global leaders are being honest? A discipleship response!

 

 

Overview: If you see reason to suspect significant change might be coming, how could you prepare your members to thrive – without even needing to mention what you suspect?

When is the time to act when we see a significant change coming?

Are we really about to face significant social, economic and cultural changes – like we are being told? Or should we ignore the words of the various international leaders we’re connected with? We’d hate to be labelled as ‘conspiracy theorists’, right? I mean, imagine if you – as a pastor, were labelled this way by your denominational hierarchy – let alone the media-believing Joe-public who lives over the fence or is at your sports club? Consider the shame and embarrassment you’d feel!

To put this differently, are we New Zealanders too laissez-faire?

  • Do we say, “she’ll be right” too much?
  • Or is it that we’ve become so culturally scared of conflict and disagreement that we comply too easily?
  • Have we maybe even become ‘too respectable’, having been seduced by the approval systems of our societies, denominations, movements or peers?

Are we actually free in our thinking? Or are we ‘trying to get by’, and to ‘stay safe’? It’s a hard question!

As a comparison, have you noticed the number of Americans who have left New Zealand recently? While I’m not making any point at all here about Covid in this article – are you aware of the unparalleled protests going on against mandates in other parts of the world right now – while we sit by? We really are a ‘She’ll be right’ culture!

What might other people be seeing or valuing, that we’re not?

What is our cultural blind-spot?

Imagine all this Covid stuff is over and in the past. Are we sitting at the precipice of some significant global changes – like global leaders are telling us, or not?

 

WHAT TRIGGERED THIS STRATEGIC THOUGHT ON ADJUSTING DISCIPLESHIP DIRECTIONS FOR ME

This thought came to a head for me when I saw Prince Charles’ speech at the recent Climate Summit. He stated some things about the need for global Government as bluntly as they have been stated – while also saying nothing new to those who make a habit of investigating global news.

This speech convinced me that the time to subtly prepare for the changes global leaders say are coming is actually now – even though much of life might continue unchanged for a while yet. They are smart, and they are telling us for a reason!

To quote Prince Charles,
“Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us just how devastating a global cross border threat can be. Climate change and biodiversity loss are no different. In fact, they pose an even greater existential threat to the extent that we have to put ourselves on what might be called a war like footing…

…time has quite literally run out. The recent IPCC Report gave us a clear diagnosis of a scale of the problem. We know what we must do. With a growing global population creating ever increasing demand on the planet’s finite resources, we have to reduce emissions urgently…

…The scale and scope of the threat we face call for a global systems level solution… …my plea today is for countries to come together… …to take the action required. We know this will take trillions, not billions of dollars.

We also know that countries, many of whom are burdened by growing levels of debt, simply cannot afford to go green. Here we need a vast military style campaign to marshal the strength of the global private sector, with trillions at his disposal far beyond global GDP, and with the greatest respect, beyond even the governments of the world’s leaders. It offers the only real prospect of achieving fundamental economic transition.

(See a full transcript at https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/prince-charles-cop26-climate-summit-glasgow-speech-transcript )

 

For a wider picture, throw into the mix the standard speeches people like leaders at the UN give – noting it’s their job to promote the reasons for globalisation / ‘sustainable development’ / global government (E.g. See a ‘stuff’ news summary of a recent speech by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres here https://www.tvnz.co.nz/one-news/world/un-chief-world-pivotal-moment-must-avert-crises ).

Put into the mix also the famed recent comments from the World Economic Forum – revealing their specifically communistic thoughts on the best way forwards for global management (‘You will own nothing, and you will be happy’).

When these, and a myriad of similar reports, events and speeches are considered, it has occurred to me that talk of ‘a great global reset’ isn’t a conspiracy theory – because the ones who are telling us about are our global leaders (and they are the only ones who get to define what is and isn’t a conspiracy these days, from I can tell).

For clarity, I’m not criticising their ambitions here either. That is a different topic. I’m simply noting what they are saying – and therefore begging the question, What would it mean for us if they were telling the truth?

Consider change theory for a moment. These leaders are truly skilled leaders (correctly, some of the worlds’ best), and they genuinely believe their plans are for the betterment of our planet. They will be strategically drip-feeding things to us – just as we might in the early stages of leading change in a church or other organisation. We would want people to become aware of what might be ahead, to lessen their latter surprise, alarm or reaction when it was later discussed more fully, and implemented.

The challenge for those presuming to lead us all internationally is one of change management – as the changes are near-global in scale. They know there will be a fall-out – including an amount of reaction, especially from those with a high valuing of human rights and freedoms. There will also therefore be an amount of damage – or disaster! So, how do they best manage this? How do they best execute this ‘great reset’ – for our greater good?

Covid has been viewed as a superb practice opportunity for this, and we’ll find this idea openly discussed by some global leaders if we stop to look.

So, the premises of my reflection here is not a criticism of those presuming to be our global leaders, or even any disagreement with what they are saying. Instead, if we assume these leaders to be skilled in what they do, and also that they are being honest with us about where they intend to take us – then change is coming, so what might that mean for us as local church leaders?

 

An overarching change – which gives shape to our discipleship themes 

We’ve just lived 150 years in one of history’s most remarkably free, prosperous and equality-based societies – despite big flaws. I think we’re about to feel a little disappointed.

The key change is would seem to me to be from a ‘thriving’ mentality to a ‘surviving’ one.

To illustrate, as parents, ‘thriving’ has been our desire for our children – that they get educated, get a job, have a family, and own their own home.  If the political and economic systems are reset, and equity (vs equality) pursued as a goal, we might need to shift to a ‘surviving’ mentality (*though I appreciate we can ‘thrive’ because of our faith – even while losing everything).

  • For example, we might be concerned to see our children still somehow get an education – despite restrictions or ideological indoctrination in universities,
  • …or that they get a job – despite limitations against them that exist because of their faith,
  • …or that they find a way to survive economically in view of high rents and unaffordable house prices,
  • …and to live out their faith – despite increasing religious prejudice against.

These kinds of challenges are not uncommon globally, or in history.

However, they are also very disappointing to fall under. Many would likely struggle with feelings of depression – grieving all they have lost (while others will react to my tone here – as they believe we should stand in defence of our freedoms – which is also true).

While there are other things that need to be in our pulpits also – as an overview, looking forwards, how do we prepare our people for the significant emotional and economic challenges that might sit within the scope of coming things?

 

Key pulpit themes for the global reset

How could prepare the Christian community to thrive in a ‘survive’ world’?

 

Prophetic topic #1. Love God, not mammon

Context:

If we are to trust the words of our leaders, this might be a time to begin to reposition economically. I am not sure that everything will be bad in the reset we are told could be coming. For example, inflation reduces debt (if you’re locked into a fixed interest rate, and mortage set-ups are able to continue, inflation helps you). However, if inflation increases the weekly budget does, and if currencies die there is little question there will be some uniquely challenging economic times ahead. (Based on history, I’m understating this an amount, so the reader is aware).

Various investment advisors are current suggesting we’re heading for an economic shift the likes of which we’ve never seen in the past 100 years of economic prosperity. They are diversifying investments in new ways – to ensure they can hold onto wealth through the transition (crash?). E.g. Bill Gates and others are investing in land, many in metals, some support crypto – while many do so aware it could turn, therefore also being ready to pull out. There is a feeling the stock exchange is overvalued as it is propped up by printed money, even though it is still climbing.

It is the level of ‘urgency’ and ‘seriousness’ in the tone of various financial spokespeople at this time that is worth noting.

Response:

We are not investment advisors – so how can we help people through times of economic uncertainty or hardship? We are her to disciple their hearts! (God can then give them wisdom as to what to do with their cash.

Many find security in their possessions, the homes they own, or the investments they have. Is this right? Where should our security be based as Christians? What would happen, and how would you feel or live, if you lost everything? Would it change who you are?

The same can be asked regarding positions of power or status we have, or in relation to positions we hold that give our lives a sense of meaning. What if you were to lose your job, or role, or position? Note that many already have lost jobs in our nation as a result of not taking the Covid vaccinations – so this certainly can happen! Where is your security based?

There are a myriad of Scriptures that cover these topics. I suggest this an important pulpit theme for the coming few years. Let’s be ready to love Jesus – with or without our wealth.

1 Timothy 6:10, Hebrews 13:5, Matthew 6:19-22, 24f, Mark 4:19, Mark 8:36,  Ecclesiastes 5:10, 2 Timothy 3:2, Luke 12:15, 1 John 2:15, Luke 16:31, Philippians 4:19.

 

Prophetic topic #2. Pursue a life of simplicity

Greed, ambition and materialism complicate our lives. Hedonism (the pursuit of pleasure) does too – as we’re trying to get out on the boat (it’s a fishing kayak or going walking in the hills for me) every other weekend.  Very soon our homes are full, our garages pouring out the sides, our schedules manic – and lose our sense of peace. This isn’t how God intended our lives to be.

Both materialism and hedonism are gods of our age! ‘He we are now entertain us’ (from ‘Smells like teen spirit’ by Curt Cobain) is a genuine mantra of our times. In fact, we can be so entertained that we don’t read our Bibles, pay attention to our times, or see the needs of the people!

‘Godliness with contentment is great gain’. 1 Timothy 6:6

When times of change come, they will be very stressful if we are living overly full and complicated lives!

  • Could we live without being on our devices as much – or watching TV as much?
  • Could we give less time to our pleasures (and maybe more to people, or other simpler recreations)?
  • Do we have to travel so much?
  • Could we declutter our houses, bedrooms, offices and garages?
  • Could we break our addictions to shopping, and buying new things?
  • Could we reduce our household and personal expenditure?
  • Could we reduce our food bills, power bills and water bills?
  • Have we planted fruit trees on our properties – and do we know how to plant a vegetable seed? Gardening is healthy recreation – and provides guaranteed spray-free food!
  • Do our children know how to hunt and fish? These are great hobbies, can protect the environment, the exercise is healthy, relationships grow as you go out together, and these hobbies come with food attached!

All of these things could be genuinely important in a time of significant change!

  • Tell stories about the monastic movements of history.
  • Tell stories about the ascetic movement in the early church (including thee extremes – that went too far).
  • At Christmas, talk about Saint Nicholas – who gave his wealth away.
  • ‘Better a camel than a rich man in the eye of a needle’ (Sting – alluding to the Bible)

‘Simplicity’ is a biblical value we could begin to esteem more within our pulpits – to prepare our people!

 

Prophetic topic #3. Pursue emotional health through the way you think

Emotional health is necessary if we are to be able to journey through challenging times – and stay emotionally intact!  How can we love others if we are falling apart ourselves?

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Romans 12: 1-2

 

The key to knowing God’s will is not only an ability to hear the Spirit’s whispers; the Scriptures call us to renew our minds. Through continually soaking in the Word, and interacting with other like-minded Christian believers, we come to know the way God thinks more deeply – so we can think and respond as he would (aka, ‘know his will’).

In times of trial and change, an attitude is needed that can ‘roll with the punches’. Where changes are fast paced and significant – we need a robust emotional health, that is not easily flattened.

God certainly can give emotional strength supernaturally. (I once failed a degree level piano examination. It was a miracle of sorts. I sensed God in it and suffered no disappointment as a result – despite having worked very hard to be there).

But God also expects us to grow, and to develop emotional capacity through training ourselves in the ways of faith, and emotional health!

E.g. Anger, anxiety and depression are like warning signs in a car. They show us something deeper isn’t as healthy as it could be. When I felt fear of male authority figures in my 20s – it wasn’t because they were untrustworthy. It is because I was abused as a child. We need to work on these things, to develop an ever clearer ‘emotional slate’.

E.g. Grief, along with a bit of crying, is healthy – not unhealthy. So not all unpleasant emotions are bad, right? The 5-step grief process is therefore useful to see – so we learn how to journey the emotion healthily, because experiencing that emotion is a healthy thing, not bad.

The Scriptures talk about all of these things.

As Christians, we ideally grow to triumph our trials, so we can be a strength for others.

  • When we suffer loss or injustice, we ideally grieve while also never losing hope, and have a resilience and ability to recover quite quickly as a result also.
  • While faith is a big part of this, and while the Holy Spirit can help too, we concurrently need to grow!

As a pastor you are called to ‘make disciples’. How could you grow your people in their emotional health and resilience – knowing more challenging times might be ahead?

Additionally, if we are emotionally weak, when we are told to do something that we believe to be wrong, we might not have the emotional fortitude needed to maintain our moral fortitude!

  • The emotionally run-down husband gives in to temptation and has an affair.
  • The wearied and frazzled Christian gives in, and takes a mark without which you cannot buy or sell.

How could you grow your people in their moral health and resilience – knowing more challenging times might be ahead?

We cannot love others well when we are emotionally falling apart ourselves.

These might be prophetic (timely) topics for our pulpits, to strengthen and prepare our members!

 

Prophetic topic #4. Learn how to catalyse and contribute to a relational caring community  

In times of trial, as are alluded to above, sharing communities are going to become very important – as contrasted to how important they are right now.

This is no small comment.

Regarding how these communities work, I suggest they will most-often not be based around an established ‘church’ with its buildings and structure – though if there is some prosperity, communities might be built around church communities, from which help is provided. However, I suggest the reality of community in very difficult times is instead comprised of relational commitments that a group of people have made to one another in their hearts – individually. This is very much like (in fact, exactly like) in a family – rather than like a community centre people come to.

Some of our members might not know how this kind of community-life works, as they have been self-sufficient, or only ever receivers (not givers).

In times of trial, there will be natural networks of people who selflessly choose to look out for each other. E.g. If you have too many fruit on a tree – you share them, or a spare bedroom – you invite someone in. That sort of thing.

Global catastrophe can interrupt supply chains. When really hard times come, relational community can become very important!

How does it work? As in all communities and most relationships, there is a continual flow of give and take.

The specific attitude that creates this kind of relational community is one of giving to bless or help others – without much thought of getting. We choose to give. We choose to help others. We connect with others. We called them on the phone. We visit their house for a cup of tea – and bring a cucumber from the garden as we do. As we discover needs, we seek to bless them – just because we want to! And this giving attitude is important, because we cannot guarantee that people will reciprocate. (When parents give to children, or an auntie or uncle to a nephew, or a family member to one who is unwell or less fortunate, the giving is also often one-directional. We can only control the fact that we give where we have possible excess of time, food or an ability).

Meanwhile, in our personal attitudes, we look to the Lord for his miraculous provision of all our needs. Sometimes this comes by way of gifts given to us by those we have given to. But at other times it will not.

The Bible has plenty to say about community, loving others, meeting needs, giving and generosity. Church small groups can be a microcosm of it (while communities of blessing might have circles of 30 to 50 or more people, not just a dozen – with different ones having different things to give).

What if we preached on these things, to strengthen the culture of care amongst our people – ready for difficult times?

 

Prophetic topic #5. Make listening to the whispers of the Spirit a part of who you are

When a person goes into a time of war, they need to be able to make decisions quickly. Some actions need to be ‘automatic responses’ – or they’ll die. This is why training is important.

Once we enter a time of crisis, it is necessary that we are able discern and follow the whispers of the Spirit to us – because we might not have the luxury of time to make significant decisions.

  • It’s time to sell your house
  • Get rid of that car
  • Move to live in that town
  • Learn how to grow vegetables
  • Give money to that family or work
  • Clean out your garage
  • Invest in that item or company or asset
  • Go talk to that person
  • And regarding a release of the supernatural – go pray for that person

For those who are not spiritually minded, this might sound silly. For others of us, we’ve had these experiences, and the track record of them has taught us something.

God loves his people, and will work to protect and help them. But, what if the ‘noise’ of our lives has been so great that we can’t discern his voice? (Point #2 about simplicity is relevant here).

While there is always a danger a person can become unbalanced, ‘super spiritual’ or weird in their application of this area of Biblical teaching…

…it remains that the Holy Spirit is with us to help – and that learning to follow his leading in the details of our lives is important, and especially so in challenging and fast-changing times.

 

Prophetic topic #6. Work while it is light

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

  • I believe that our good deeds are soon to become a more vital component to our witness than they were in prior decades. As freedoms to speak become more limited, utilising our freedom to love – while telling a story, will become more important.
  • The world will be drawn to Christ by our peacefulness in the midst of trail, and by our selfless love in the midst of trial!

“As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”

John 9:4

  • Jesus suggests here that there are times of freedom – when we can work, and times of darkness – when we cannot work.
  • This means, there can be a time to pull back from bold gospel and other work for the Lord, to look after ourselves and our families.
  • In Luke 21 and Matthew 24 Jesus predicted the fall of Jerusalem. ‘When you see the armies gather – flee’. There is a time to retreat. This is in the Scriptures in a few places.
  • It is light right now. We have the freedom to love and to speak; to witness and to help; to create and to share; to innovate and to visit.

What can we do for the Lord – in outreach to others? How can we connect with them? How can we help them? How can we encourage or invite them to consider the reality of God’s existence, and his visit to us in Christ?

The opportunities we have right now might not last forever.

How can we make the most of the opportunities we have right now?

 

In summary

If a significant time of change is coming – like we are being told, the most important things are not our possessions, positions or pleasures. They are instead the people around us – and our faith, the truth, and freedom to love.

In fact, three things that can never be taken from us are our faith, our commitment to know and follow things that we are sure are true, and our choice to show love.

What things grip our hearts? What could, or could we not, survive the loss of – remembering eternity is ahead?

 

I suggest that these six areas represent prophetic / timely messages in view of possible coming changes:

[Key pulpit messages in view of the global reset]

Prophetic topic #1. Love God, not mammon

Prophetic topic #2. Pursue a life of simplicity

Prophetic topic #3. Pursue emotional health through the way you think

Prophetic topic #4. Learn how to catalyse and contribute to a relational caring community

Prophetic topic #5. Make listening to the whispers of the Spirit a part of who you are

Prophetic topic #6. Work while it is light

These can prepare us for times of darkness – so we shine within it, as also right now!

Dave-director-smll

DAVE MANN. Dave is a creative communicator with a vision to see an understanding of the Christian faith continuing, and also being valued, in the public square in Aotearoa-New Zealand. He has innovated numerous conversational resources for churches, and recently coordinated a 5th nationwide multimedia Easter project purposed to help open conversation between church and non-church people about Christianity take place, including regarding the specifically Christian origins of many of our nation’s most treasured values. Dave is the author of various books and booklets including “Because we care”, “That Leaders might last”, “The Elephant in the Room”, and available for free on this site: “The What and How of Youth and Young Adult ministry”. Married  to Heather, they have four young boys and reside in Tauranga, New Zealand.  

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