This is the last in the series of articles in which we have looked at how Christian Workplace Groups can benefit by following in Jesus footsteps.
When Jesus came to the end of His ministry, He had spent some three years teaching His disciples what the purpose of His mission was all about. He had shared His leisure time with them; He had prayed with them; He had shown them what was possible when acting in the power of God. Yet Jesus knew that His time on earth was limited and He prepared His disciples to cope without Him. He had nominated a leader in Peter to take things forward, even though He had some tricky moments along the way!
Jesus’ mission had to be taken forward. It had to continue!
Before Jesus gave up His earthly existence, just before He ascended into heaven, He gave the disciples their final instructions accompanied by deep encouragement.
Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Jesus expressed clearly what the disciples needed to do, but He also made a promise to be with them forever and of course that presence came in the form of the Holy Spirit, who was to inspire them to do great things:
I am telling you the truth: those who believe in me will do what I do—yes, they will do even greater things, because I am going to the Father (John 14:12)
The amazing growth of the early church is catalogued in exciting detail in Acts, as the Apostles, empowered by the Holy Spirit, laid the foundations of the Christian Church which has stretched out and impacted upon the lives of billions for over 2,000 years. Jesus was meticulous in putting in place the building blocks to ensure that His death did not mark the end of His message, but was the beginning of a new chapter in which the Good News would spread throughout the world.
In the previous articles in this series we have briefly covered how those building blocks that Jesus used with His disciples can be applied to the growth and development of a Christian Workplace Group. There are however, moments in the lives of all groups when things are not going so well. Sometimes doubts can creep in about the future. It was certainly true for the disciples – just look at Peter’s experience! It is important at these times that the group pulls together as a team. Don’t leave it all to one or two people to carry the burden or things will falter – remain a supportive coherent group. The apostles remained a tight knit group after Jesus’ death and in the face of considerable opposition, they flourished.
Day after day they met as a group in the Temple, and they had their meals together in their homes, eating with glad and humble hearts, praising God, and enjoying the good will of all the people. And every day the Lord added to their group those who were being saved. (Acts 2:46-47)
There are moments too when key leaders within the group move on and regrettably in some cases, the group struggles. In a few cases they cease to exist. This is extremely sad and emphasises the need for careful succession planning. It is important that the leadership team within group is built up and future leaders given the chance to develop. Don’t leave succession planning until the last moment. Try to have people in place to carry on the work.
Finally of course, just as the apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit, so are we. Jesus promised a Helper, not just for a few days, but forever. I always take encouragement from the transformation that the Spirit brought upon Peter. From a simple fisherman, who denied Jesus three times, he became that rock which Jesus knew He could be and the change was astounding as Peter stood up in Jerusalem and addressed the crowd:
Many of them believed his message and were baptized, and about three thousand people were added to the group that day. (Acts 2:41)
Jesus knows just what our Christian Workplace Groups are capable of. He knows our potential better than we will ever know. Be encouraged then by the experiences of His early followers and be confident that if we follow the guidance that Jesus himself provided, that our groups will not only keep going but have a major part to play in transforming the workplace and our whole society, taking the Good News out into the world!