If you have read the page on “Who is God’s Lily? you will understand why I have wondered what restoration of God’s people would look like. I would love to know what the end of that sentence is! Seriously, I would. Here are some ideas of what restoration means according to some dictionaries I checked.
- to return something to its previous condition by repairing or cleaning
- to re-introduce something
- to return something lost or stolen to its rightful owner
- to bring or to put back something to a former status, rank etc.
- to repair
- to make good
- to reinstate
- to bring back to a former or normal state
To bring about that kind of change it is necessary to know two things i.e. what you are changing from and what you are going to change into. The problem is that many of us know what we don’t want but struggle to work out what we do want.
An example of change in action
Think about London in the 19th Century. There were a lot of horses in the city who needed feeding, watering and left a mess behind them. We complain when a single horse leaves a pile of manure on the road. Imagine life with hundreds of horses. Horse manure was a real problem in cities like London. People knew that there were problems with horses but how were they to be solved.
Today horses are rarely seen on city streets. The problem of streets ankle deep in manure has resolved itself. There is a different sort of pollution problem i.e. the exhaust gases from engines whose ability is (or at least used to be) measured in horsepower.
People knew what they did not want i.e. so much manure on the streets but if a market researcher went back in time and asked them what to do about it, they would struggle to find an answer. They might think about encouraging horse owners to use bags to collect manure rather than letting it land on the street. Yes, that really was a solution that was tried. Few of them would envisage a horseless carriage. Yet that was one name used for the earliest vehicles powered by internal combustion engines.
Today roads are still busy and crowded, but with a different sort of traffic. The solution of one problem has, over time, developed into a different problem. It is now hard to imagine streets filled with horses and covered in manure.
The change did not happen overnight. It took a series of inventions, one building upon another to develop vehicles that could replace horses. Good job really as the change was not comfortable for everyone.
Think of those who made or sold things associated with horses. Fewer horses meant less need for bridles or horse drawn carriages or hay or anything else only used with horses. Some of those who made horse drawn carriages started making horseless carriages instead but not all the skills once needed to maintain a horse based culture were transferable. Jobs disappeared as companies went out of business because what they produced was no longer needed.
What does restoration look like?
Back to the church. Many people have ideas about what they do not want. One being large numbers of churches where a handful of pensioners gather in an attempt to keep a building open and maintain an old way of life. They see the church as having little impact on society and want to turn that around so that it becomes a respected voice in the community.
But how? There are pioneers trying out all sorts of ideas. Pioneers who are trying different ways of evangelising or connecting with the community in a loving way. People who give out fruit and gifts rather than tracts or who paint pictures outdoors rather than preach outdoors. Pioneers who are trying out different ways of structuring the church. Some are going back to older ideas such as living in community hence what some call New Monasticism.
The truth is that there is probably no one size that fits all. There are different ways forward in different communities. Anyone who has lived in more than one village or more than one part of the same town will tell you that there are subtle differences. Some differences are easier to recognise than others. The age of the houses, the architecture, the present day local economy can be relatively easy to observe. What can be harder to discern is the impact of what has happened on that land previously or of industries that are long gone.
Not only are the needs in one locality quite different to another but the abilities, skills and experience of those called to meet those needs varies as well. The teachers will want to teach others to resolve a problem. The managers will see the need for better organisation.
One thing remains the same and that is the best solution is a solution that comes directly from God. Ever heard of tuna and pickled onion sandwiches? Most people I ask have not. Sounds odd but that idea started with a problem I had i.e. what to have for lunch. I was stuck for ideas and I did not have enough money to even buy a loaf of bread until the following day so I prayed for inspiration. The answer was make some plain scones, open a tin of tuna and add some chopped pickled onions then use the fresh scones as open sandwiches. I had all the ingredients in the cupboard, all I needed was the inspiration and I had a meal to remember. Not only that but I enjoyed it so much that I started having tuna and pickled onion sandwiches on a regular basis.
Where to start if you are not sure where you are going?
A long time a go an old lady told me that a mission outwards had to start with a mission inwards. Without the relationship with our heavenly Father we will not know the best way to go forwards. On the other hand, if we keep on looking inwards and trying to meet our own needs then we will not be able to fulfil our calling to help others. We need both a mission inwards and a mission outwards in the right proportions in order to be the church that God intended us to be.
What will that look like? God only knows. Yet that is part of the adventure. Following close to Him doing what He wants to build the churches and communities that He wants to see.
I keep on getting clues like when I asked what one legal entity I had set up should be working towards building I was given the vision of Lily’s Place. That then led to what I wrote about my dream community. In addition, when I asked God what courses to run the answer I wrote down surprised me. It was that there needed to be five dimensions of training. More about that on the God’s Lily Training website.
Well, I seem to be an ideas person i.e. someone who sees possibilities in all sorts of places and not always where you might expect. One of the aims of this journal is to record some of these ideas. When I looked back at what I had written previously there was a variety of articles. It did not seem to make sense so I prayed about it. I was reassured that what I was supposed to do was create a smorgasbord.
My next question was what is a smorgasbord? It is a type of meal presented as a buffet that is popular in Scandinavian countries. There is a sort of organisational framework to it as there are ways of laying out the table and certain types of fish dishes that people expect to find. They are popular at Christmas and others times of celebration.
In other words, it did not matter that there was a mixture of ideas, as long as those who came along were well fed. They could pick and choose what they wanted to follow up on after reading my journal. Well, they can when they are invited to partake and then keep coming back to see what else has appeared on the table. Of course being a digital smorgasbord there is loads of space for you to join in and even invite your friends to come along as well.
So how do you stay in touch? That is where the email version of the journal comes in handy. You can sign up for that below. Once you get your copy you can then forward it to anyone you think might be interested. Then, of course, you can always share journal entries on social media.