Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Lots of balls in the air

Vigilantes of Love Audible Sigh arrived a few days ago. What a blinder - song after wonderful song.

It's been the soundtrack to a busy time. Lots of balls to keep up - a men's Bible study, cafe church planning, developing the worship group, hosting a series on spirituality for everyday life, getting down to thinking about how I'll edit Talk (the magazine of the Mainstream network), planning an outreach on the estate we live on and visiting people interested in exploring the Christian faith.

It's the usual stuff of a minister's life.

Reflecting on it, it's possibly one reason why there's so little experimentation at the heart of churches. You'll recall that I've been thinking about how we can improve the quality of learning among our people - especially in the evening services. But services are one thing we ministers know how to do, so when there are lots of balls to keep airborne, we can do services on autopilot.

But this needs to be resisted. Services lead to many of the other things we do - conversations about discipleship, rites of passage and guidance. They also do something intangible - they set the tone, the 'feel' of the church; they create the atmosphere in which everything else happens and which determines whether or not people access all the other things the church has to offer.

So it matters that we keep thinking about our services, keep raising the quality, keep pushing the envelope of experimentation.

However, we also need to recognize that for increasing numbers of people, services are one part of the church's life they don't participate in at all. They might come to a mid-week gathering - parent and toddlers, youth work, an English class - but never on Sundays.

So, here's a load of other balls to juggle with. How do we help these people access all that the church is about and not just the single activity that they are drawn by. For example, the mum or couple who comes to a parent and toddler group might not think of coming to anything else, might not even realise that anything else happens in the church that might interest them. So, how do we open up to them the range of possibilities that the church offers for social and spiritual activities and growth?

The Vigilantes of Love earth all this talk, reminding me what really matters - the quality of our relationships and the need to depend on God (even when he seems a little out of focus).

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