I suppose you could say it is the opposite of brokenness or weakness. There is a school of thought that says that people find it easier to say what t hey don’t want than what you do want. Working on that premise what don’t you want the church to be like? Here are some of the descriptions that came to mind and their opposites.
- not small but large and growing
- not ineffective but impacting the locality through its various projects that change the lives of individuals and transform communities
- not tired but vibrant and full of life
- not unattractive but attracting people because it si the “in” place to be
- not old-fashioned but modern and relevant for today
- not dowdy but bright and colourful inside and out
- not drab but possessing a vibrancy that shines through the very walls
- not pointless but an active part of the community
- not overlooked but the first to get on your side when you want to get something done
- not lifeless but full of life with activities that bring individual people to life
- not unimaginative but full of ideas that change lives and communities
- not lacking influence but a powerhouse supporting people building businesses and charities that change the world
- not just a handful of pensioners looking back at the time when the church had a Sunday School but a place where all generations come together and work together and learn from each other.
Why don’t we see this?
One big reason is that we let our limiting beliefs get in the way. Some of us say “Sorry God can’t do if your way because we believe it is unscriptural” Sound stupid? It might do but I know it happens because I have done it.
Sometimes we just have to get out of God’s way and let him do the stuff. It might take pushing us to our limits of endurance for us to agree to let go and let God do it his way. Until we stop saying we can’t do xyz He can’t step in and help us do xyz.
Another reason is we don’t do what we can when we can. It is a case of building up to where you need to be. Does anyone start running by doing a marathon? Well, they might think they did if they did little in the way of preparation but they had to learn to walk and then run. They could only do that once they had grown the necessary muscle power to do those things.
Then there is the issue of what can you do with the resources available. Remember the parable of the talents? Those who used what they had been given for the master’s purpose will be entrusted with more. Those who don’t will have even what they have taken away from them. Ever thought that this could be one reason why churches close? They don’t use what they have been given e.g. a building so this is taken away from them. In some cases, the building is given to someone else who can fulfil God’s purpose for it such as another church or a doctor’s surgery or a community group.
It is a strange church that does not have any resources. Doing something could be as simple as putting the kettle on, opening the doors and putting up a sign up saying drop in for a cuppa and chat. Yet being able to see this kind of opportunity is not always easy. Somehow we seem to overlook things because they are too simple or too small to bother with. What was that idea about not despising the day of small beginnings?
The thing that I am finding most challenging at the moment is the idea of spiritual disciplines. This includes prayer, journalling, Bible reading and personal worship times while listening to CDs. Part of the challenge is spending four hours a day doing these things.
Yes, I know it seems a lot and it feels like setting myself up to fail. Yet it is becoming increasingly obvious that it is the lack of this kind of activity that has held me back for years. Of course when faced with a tough challenge like that my first response is really I can’t do that. It is then get up and move away to seek out one of my comfort habits usually something sweet like a piece of fruit or a milkshake.
The thing that I am finding though is that as I make an effort to move towards that it is becoming easier to avoid temptation and to do the things that God wants me to do. It is as if I find a strength that I did not have before. This is going to be an interesting journey!