I couldn’t watch the eviction of the travellers from Dale Farm. I found it too distressing seeing people being forcibly expelled from their homes. However, it had been pointed out to me on a number of occasions that the point of being a traveller is you keep moving on! It has got me thinking, could a similar criticism be made of us in the church?
The last thing Jesus said before he ascended into heaven was, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Jesus was a traveller and he created a travelling community that were sent out to spread the good news of His kingdom come to the whole of creation. But maybe like the residents of Dale Farm we have forgotten who we are and that our very identity is as those who are sent out. So I have a plan. You have probably heard of ‘back to church Sunday’, well I want to launch ‘get out of church Sunday’! This would involve all those who spend their Sunday mornings worshipping a ‘God who loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son’ getting out of their church buildings and finding out what normal people do on a Sunday morning. The purpose is not that they have a day off from delivering a sermon, setting up the PA or looking after the children in the crèche, but they look for opportunities to build relationships with not yet Christians in their community and see where a kingdom agenda might bring benefits to everyone in the locality.
What about taking a stall at a car boot sale where really useful things could be given away. How about providing hot drinks to parents cheering their children on at the touchline in the park when it’s freezing cold? Supplying a free delivery service from the garden centre or making available a working party to lend additional muscle at the allotments? The possibilities are endless and it will be inspiring to see how creative the Body of Christ can get! I am currently really enjoying teaching a meditation course at the YMCA on a Sunday morning. It has been brilliant creating an environment where course participants can really share how they’re feeling and being able to make suggestions that might help them overcome some of the issues that they are struggling with. This week we introduced the idea of a good guide who wants to direct them into the way of love and peace. I am really praying that God will begin to reveal himself to them as they begin to listen for His voice in their times of meditation.
While I think ‘get out of church Sunday’ is the way forward. Unfortunately, I don’t think most church leaders will go for it. It would be like turkeys voting for Christmas! They’d worry that once outside church, no-one will come back and then who would fill the coffee rota? Perhaps I do them a disservice and it was only those I was in team with that could not be persuaded of the wisdom of my suggestion. But if we are convinced about the difference Christ makes to our lives then how can we, alight in Him, allow ourselves to be hidden not under a bowl but in our church buildings? I do realise that lots of churches do great things in their communities throughout the week and more and more congregations are experimenting with meeting at different times to suit the needs of those they are trying to reach. But it’s the majority I think need to be willing to sacrifice the sacred cow that is the Sunday morning gathering to demonstrate just how committed they are to see God burst out of the old wine skins so that our generation might be totally transformed one community at a time. It’s that or I resort to my original plan – chucking grenades! (referring to previous blog)
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