We all long for a deeper connection with people around us. The thing that Starbucks believe they really offer is “a community gathering place where people come together to connect and discover new things” -Howard Shultz (former CEO of Starbucks).
God designed us to live in community with others but perhaps we need to ask ourselves, is this better demonstrated in the church or in a coffee shop? How can we partner with God’s great plan to ensure his people get connected?
What Starbucks have discovered is what God has always known that life is better connected – we are made for community and relationship. Howard Schultz also wrote about three principles of community: Dream more than others think possible, Care more than others think wise, Risk more than others think safe.
We are going to talk about these three over the next few weeks and we have added a fourth principle: Love more than others think reasonable. They fit so well with what God says about community and what we want to encourage at ABC. Today we are talking about dreaming more than others think possible.
It is easy for us to stop dreaming. It is easy for us to revert to the past and to our past experiences. It is easy for us to become cynical. But cynicism is bad for us and dreaming is good particularly when we are dreaming dreams fuelled by the Spirit of God. How do we start dreaming again?
Paul was one of the first followers of Jesus and he had a passionate dream of what God could do through him. He wrote several letters that are included in the New Testament part of the Bible. In his letter to the Ephesians in chapter 3 verses 14 to 21 he gives us some ideas for how we can start dreaming again. You can read that here. You can also read a paraphrase version of those same verses in the Message version of the Bible. You can read that here.
Jesus is available to each and every one of us, but he won’t force himself in to our lives, he will wait to be invited. Personally each and every day – begin by inviting Jesus in to your day. Open your eyes to spot him at work.
Take in the extravagant dimensions of God’s love. Experience his love when life is at its darkest when you are plumbing the depths and it will help pull you through. Experience his love when life is at its best and you are flying high. Experience his love and live life to the fullest.
Don’t limit your dreams – trust him for something big. This can be particularly difficult when you feel like you’ve done this in the past and it hasn’t felt like God has come through. Or you’ve had dreams in the past and they haven’t been realised. It may be that when we step out to pursue the dream that it doesn’t turn out in the way we imagined but that doesn’t mean God wasn’t in it, it doesn’t mean it wasn’t God’s plan all along and it doesn’t mean that God isn’t using it.Dreaming of what God can do in us and through us is evidence of the Spirt of God at work in us. Being in community to do that, with a small group of other people is just the best way.
Here are some next steps to help you with that. If you’re Exploring faith you could try Alpha which is a series of small group gatherings designed to help you explore faith in a relaxed and non threatening environment. If you are longing to Connect more with God and with others you could get involved in a small group or come along to a Welcome Lunch or our Discovering ABC course. If you are wanting to Partner or Lead more with us at ABC come to our Course Nights starting on Tuesday 25th February. And if you are looking for some reading or listening why not check out Circle Maker by Mark Batterson or The Way of the Warrior by Erwin McManus.
When it comes to God if we always resort to the past it will restrict what God can do in and through us in the future. Have you had a bad experience, do you long for something new? Is your faith a shadow of what it used to be? Trust God step out and dream again.
To find out more about Next Steps check out the NextSteps web page.
Questions to reflect on in your small group or on your own:
- What’s your favourite coffee shop? Why?
- Do you think that being in community with others is important?
- What are your great experiences of community either in the church or in some other setting?
- Have you stopped dreaming of what might be in your life or as God works through you? Why?
- What are some of the dreams you have had in the past? Did they come to reality?
- Read both versions of Ephesians chapter 3…what do you notice?
- How can you invite Jesus into your life more?
- Do you agree that experiencing God in our lives is a better way to live?
- How have you limited your dreams?
- What is God saying to you about dreaming again? How can you do that in community? What next steps might you take?