Swings and roundabouts
I was swinging on a swing just the other day chatting with a friend backwards and forwards and we both commented on it was quite surreal but fun it was! The reason for being there is that I was meeting a member of our community who is key stakeholder in our recent fund raising efforts for a new park. I’m working with ( important to note for journeying in community – with) our community and key stakeholders to bring about positive change and to change the face of the area for the better.
Whilst I was reflecting on the day at the park with my friend Jonny H, I couldn’t seem to shift the thought of some of those pieces of play park equipment are like the church!
Take the humble historic roundabout – we often don’t see them on parks these days but once your on its hard to get off. The inherited church it stuck in its ways of maintenance and it’s hard for the church to get its teeth into mission when, the maintenance of the church roof is a higher priority over its community/ parish. Maybe that’s why the NFI is the fastest growing church planting denomination as they don’t have the problem of ageing buildings. However often the church has the intention to reach out with the gospel but the leadership is overstretched just caring for the flock and keeping the church going forward. Even the Fresh Expressions initiative that has been. Going for over 10 years won’t be able to stem the decline in the church it needs an out pouring of the Holy Spirit to bless and equip pioneers in Gods mission.
Let me explain what I mean by the gospel as it’s often misunderstood…
We have a great commission (Matthew 28:16-20) to ‘go,’ to move out from our church buildings into where Jesus would go if he walked the earth today. Schools, prisons, the corner shop, coffee shop, gyms, and cinemas where everyday people are at and live life. When ‘going‘ we are to go to make relationships and build community working with and loving ( we love because He first loved us – 1 John 4:19) . ‘Make’ (bring forth fruit) disciples is something I feel that the we have lost in the church. The Methodist class structure of bible study and accountability really promoted the sense of brotherhood and being fruitful. Fully understanding what it meant to follow Christ the class structure often answered the 22 accountability questions!
Often people come to Christ and that is fantastic, and often really encouraging if we’ve been praying for a friend or family member. But too often we expect people who are on the fringe of church or in church with ropes and ladders. What we need to give people is escalators and lifts to get to the next level – offering them Alpha courses/ christianity explored courses to shape and mould them to what God intends them to be – ambassadors for Christ.
That leads me to my next point – ‘disciples’. I’m in the business of growing and making new disciples. Jesus invested in his disciples with time and in small groups to teach them about the Kingdom of God. In youth ministry we seek to make disciples of our young people in small groups so why doesn’t it happen more with all ages as people can come to Christ at any age.
I would encourage you if your not in a home group/ house group to get into one now. Meeting together is important for fellowship and growth as a disciple of Jesus. So, as we journey in Gods mission with him not in our own bubble as church centred mission we’re to be obedient & to listen to his voice, leading; but we can’t sit on our hands in an age where the church is in decline.
Our only hope for us to release pioneers; take risks; and submerge ourselves in our community and find where God is already at work. He’s praying that the Church seeks to make reaching out into community a priority.