The Pursuit, honestly.

 

Honestly

I’m going to be honest. Many people are asking what The Pursuit is, and I struggle.

Aside from the many hundreds who have been part of it each year, loved it and been blessed by it, I find it hard to know where to begin explaining it from scratch.

Not because we lack clarity of vision, but because it’s different to what we’ve experienced before. Let me explain quickly.

So much of how we understand and communicate new things is based on what we’ve had before. When it comes to hearing about a new Christian event, we make assumptions about what it will be like based on what we’ve experienced before – especially if it’s a ministry name we’re familiar with involving people we’ve heard of.

We value those events and our friends involved in running them. And we don’t want to describe ourselves by what or who we aren’t. We’re simply doing something different.

The problem is, sometimes it can be hard to imagine another way.

Why?

We know how easy it is to get distracted. To be sidetracked by what’s around us. For the values of consumerism, individualism and celebrity culture that dictate society to subtly permeate our theology and practices as disciples of Jesus. Before we know it we’re selling ourselves short – and our churches and our neighbours – on the good news of the kingdom of God on earth.

We’ve ended up as a generation in our teens, 20s and 30s in which many of us are lacking confidence that we have a significant part to play in the work of God on earth, and unsure how we would even go about it if we did. It may come across as apathy, but really we don’t know where to begin.

In a society permeated with individualism, celebrity culture and consumerism, The Pursuit is an opportunity to recover our holy identity and learn practically how to live differently. Not just for the sakes of our own relationship with God, but for our local churches and streets too.

This is the third year we’ve made space for those who want to come away on a retreat. A space where God rests us, refreshes us and sends us back to our neighbourhoods thinking and living a bit more like him.

What’s different?

Following Jesus is a matter of practical pursuit. We learn mostly by experience, not hearing. We often forget new things we’ve read, heard and sung. We rarely forget new things we’ve done.

We’ve pulled together with some friends we’re learning from, hosting activities and experiences that help return to our neighbourhoods more confident, competent and aware of God’s company with us. They range from the fun to the serious, the life changing to the restful and creative.

In the last few years these have included:

  • Being practically taught how to approach, serve and pray for strangers in public, by going out on the streets, having it modelled, then doing it ourselves
  • Sourcing and making nettle tea in the woods
  • A waste food midnight feast
  • A secret doubt garden
  • 12-minute Pursuit Talks from people you’ve never heard of doing things you may never have thought of, with 2-way Q&A that helps us learn together.
  • A secret church service in the woods at midnight where we learned about persecuted Christians around the world, shared communion and interceded for them
  • Morning runs
  • One-to-one coaching for anyone wanting to start new discipleship groups or projects in their neighbourhoods

All for one reason

The beating heart of the community weekend: round-the-clock worship. Worshipping God together in song, prayer and expectancy that he will speak to us together as his children. It’s this quality time with God that is central to who we are. Dance your heart out with DJ-hosted worship in the night hours. Be still before him in the early hours. Fast a mealtime and seek him in the middle of the day. Be courageous, learn to hear his voice, discerning and sharing with others.

All of this works together for an environment in which new things get learned, good friends get made, lives get changed and much fun is had… where we learn the biblical principles that sustain a day to day life of discipleship and most importantly of all, God gets glorified as we worship him with authenticity.

I’ll be honest. When we first began there was a lingering thought in my head. Are we being naive? Is this really too good to be true? But what we experienced that first year and again last year is beginning to convince me… that God has so much more in store for us as a generation. I want to be part of it.

___

– Benedict

P.S. If you’ve got questions before you commit, remember we’re still only a call or a coffee away.


One Month On

 

A weekend spent intentionally seeking God, worshipping Him and resting in His presence is definitely a weekend well spent. 

Something powerful happens when you gather with others who have the same desire as you, when you allow God space and time to move amongst you collectively and individually.

Let’s be honest, how often do we give God the time He deserves in our daily lives to impact us, to change us, to be God?

Almost a month ago, a group of people gathered in a tent in a field to give God that time and space he deserves.

We went into the wild with God, we participated in wild worship, we wildly pursued God, we prayed wild prayers and we had wild dreams.

Throughout the weekend I can honestly say that God met with us, He spoke to us, each and every one of us.  That might have been through prophecy, testimony, time with friends or the small voice in your head that you just know is Him.

The Pursuit is a place where you don’t put a limit on God, you’re not in a rush with God and that allows you to be changed by Him, to have your eyes opened to all He is and has for you.

How then can you meet with God so intimately and powerfully and not act on that when you leave?

You need the time and space to seek God but then you also need to action that.  To take what happened so powerfully in a tent in the middle of a field and use it to impact the world.  God changes us for His glory.  God changes us so that we can impact the lives of others.  God changes us so we can change the world.

You come away from a powerful weekend and you are reminded of what you are called to do:

Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.  What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (Matthew’s Gospel 16:24-26)

Go wild with Jesus, lose yourself in His presence and recommit your life to Him once again.  Then go out and change the world. 

___

by Kate Newhook, a fellow Pursuer.

 

Photos collected from the weekend can be found on Facebook here and instagram #thepursuit16

 


YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

 

We’re excited to run the café at The Pursuit as a place where we can gather and celebrate God through the creativity of music, art, and food.

Selecting our coffee, cakes, and juice we’ve been thinking how we can honour God with what we’re doing here. As a part of Tearfund we spend a lot of time considering the world around us. We’ve begun to realise how important food and hospitality really are.

Eating Well

You and I becoming globally connected over the last few decades has provided insights to the way the wider world works. It’s immersed us in other cultures, given us friends from different lands. Technology at its best. It also means we witness the effects of our actions: the poverty born of our consumerist ways.

We can use this opportunity to change our habits. We can make more ethical choices so that others don’t suffer because of us.

You and I are part of a generation that is becoming increasingly aware of our food and where it comes from – is it Fairtrade? Is it locally sourced? Can I go without eating meat this week? These seemingly small things, done by enough people, create a ripple big enough to effect change.

‘This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.’ (1 John 3.16-18)

We can turn our weekly food shop into an avenue of worship.

Love Through Hospitality

Food is powerful. It’s able to bring people together in an ambience of friendship; it reaches out to loved ones and strangers alike.

Those around Jesus thought important to note that he came ‘eating and drinking’ (Luke 7:34). He spent a lot of time sharing his meals – not just with family – but with the outcasts and lowlifes.

Massive significance is placed on these gatherings: Jesus used them to teach powerful messages on acceptance and compassion,

‘Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5.31-32)

He wants us to invite those who are broken by the world and less fortunate into our homes so that we become equals.

By giving food through aid and food banks, we can risk becoming superior. By sharing inviting people into our homes to share our food, we become friends.

Finally, food is at the heart of Jesus’ life:

‘While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26.26- 29)

In the most important moment of his life, Jesus expresses his message within a meal. By eating the bread and drinking the wine we are connecting with this very moment, remembering that our rescue came through his sacrifice.

We can imitate Jesus in our daily deeds through small sacrifices, and an easy place to start could be in our mealtimes. Think about your favourite foods – sweet mangos, crisp tomatoes, succulent chicken – these are more than just sustenance, they are gifts for us to enjoy, an expression of God’s generosity, an opportunity to revel in His grace, and who wouldn’t want to share that?

—-

Fiona Jackson has a degree in Creative Writing and uses it to pursue justice and awareness, she is a currently the editorial intern for Tearfund Rhythms, works in an independent café, and helps out in her local youth group.


WILD?

 

Am I the only person who reads ‘Into The Wild’ and immediately feels very ordinary..?

Last week took me to this year’s leaders meeting for The Pursuit. For the first time I heard the vision: ‘Into The Wild’.

Soon, I felt myself shrinking back. Because as a worship leader I hear the phrase ‘go wild’ amidst a chorus of motivational catchphrases like, ‘Let’s take more risks, let’s be more creative, let’s step out of our comfort zones…’ and the invitation to lead worship suddenly has a sting in its tail.

Oh gosh. I’m going to have to get both feet off the ground and spin… burst into spontaneous fits of joy in that chorus. What if tongues of fire don’t appear over my head? Even then…”

That bite of insecurity. A prickle of anxiety followed by a paralysing shot of lethargy: Will I be wild enough? Probably not…”

I’m relieved to say that as we prayed and worshipped, the pressure to ‘be wild’ didn’t loom so heavy.

STRANGE FIRE

In my mind, I was taken to the Old Testament story of Aaron’s sons Nadab & Abihu. They’re famous for being struck down – a la mort – in the temple. (Leviticus 10)

Staggering in side by side, they carry censers filled with burning incense. The Lord observes their ‘strange fire’ and is incensed… like really incensed.

They bring fire into the worship space that is not fire from the altar.

Aaron’s sons made their own fire and we now think how unwise they were. But what they did is so tempting, and so dangerous.

WE DON’T HAVE TO BE WILD TO ENTER INTO THE WILD

I don’t have to be glorious to enter God’s glory. I am made glorious – not through my own attempts at gloriousness – but because of the glorious blood of Jesus.

On entering the wild, God wants us to burn with wildfire – not strange fire! But what is wildfire?

WILDFIRE

It’s the quiet embers of God’s presence snapping softly in the air around us as we worship.

It’s a Sunday afternoon stroll through a short worship service with God’s fire burning candescently in the background – by nature wilder than any musical marathon set within manmade holographic flames.

Wildfire is a monstrous storm, felling trees around it with earth-shattering force. Renewed reverence and awe hitting us like freight trains as we approach the glory of God’s presence.

I may not always feel wild (do you?) I may not be able to do wild (in that crazy extroverted way). But the wildest thing about all this?

Wildfire is in me. The Spirit is in me.

It’s a wildness I’m powerless to tame, but I am able to pursue, to cultivate…

It may not even appear that ‘wild’ in an earthly sense.

WILDFIRE IS CONTAGIOUS

Imagine hundreds of brave worshippers running barefoot over burning coals of encounter as they pursue Jesus…

With hearts not dampened by fear of failure, or minds burnt out with the exhaustion that comes from trying to be a certain type of wild.

How many others would follow them?

Wildfire sets the sky ablaze, staining it red with the blood of Jesus. Blood that sets the Father’s heartbeat pulsing throughout the canvas of creation, telling all who see it that the way to the wild is open.

How foolish I would be to stumble forwards with an offering of strange fire, when the heavens and the glory of God beckon me – have always beckoned me – into the Wild.

______

— Debs Davies


Dream

 

There is a deep longing within me to dream. Not only to dream, but to believe that life has far more to offer than I can fully comprehend.

As I get older I am becoming more aware of my own limitations and short-comings. I am also becoming aware of how much can be achieved by me simply placing ‘my lunch’ in the hands of my heavenly father (see John 6.5-14).

You could say that I’m in a cliché phase of soul searching. My perspective is, I’m examining the very purpose of me accepting Jesus into my life.

I’ve allowed him into my space, I’ve let him in to make himself at home. But I’m surely missing a trick if he’s only come in to sit down, pour himself skinny soy latte and be a moral advisor.

There are many times in life where I feel a lot like Peter, “To whom shall I go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6: 68). Even in times of real hurt and confusion I have known deep within me the realness and reality of God. I’ve known it and seen it and tasted it, he is good.

He is surely within me for more than the way I’m currently living.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3: 20).

I want to know what that is, the whole ‘more than we can ask or imagine’. That’s me, that’s where I’m at.

Where does all of that line up? I accepted Jesus in, he’s at work, but where is it leading? Am I expecting enough, am I dreaming for more? How wild is his heart for me? How much more wild should I expect him to be in my life?

Come and find out with me!

_____

– Dave