John makes a couple of astute observations (as ever) in his comment on yesterday's post.
Yes, we're all bored with church - bored with the structures, the pussy-footing around people's sensibilities, the gathering to sing dull and pretty anodyne songs and especially the apparent lack of connection between people.
The trouble is, church is the way most Christians find any sense of who they are in God. John's second comment is true up to a point. Some Christians do look to me and the rest of ministry team for their take on God. Others look at what we're doing with a mixture of horror and contempt - but that just keeps us humble!
I think one of one of my main hopes for our conference tomorrow is that it helps generate a sense of identity for us a church that isn't based on having been around for a generation or more. If we have any identity as Christians - something we're exploring tomorrow sociologically and theologically - it's derived from our relationship with God.
I'll be sharing a few thoughts from the opening and closing of Romans that look at our identity in terms of being a holy people, called by God, adopted as his children and created family in his Spirit. But we remain tribal, people who have different tastes, interests, social places and cultural and educational backgrounds.
Paul wrote Romans to a very tribal church, made up of Jews and Gentiles, slaves and free people, a few rich and a lot of poor, folk who'd been Christians a long time, others who were recent converts, some who'd been Rome forever, others who'd just arrived or returned following the lifting the expulsion order Claudius issued in the late 40s.
So the letter has a lot to say to us. and the first thing is 'let's be honest about who we are, guys, so we can make an effort to get along and get to know each other - after all, we are brothers and sisters in Jesus.'
So as we ask the question tomorrow - who in God's name are we? - I'm looking forward to a spirited discussion and the drawing of some conclusions we can take into the future.