Finally I got to church yesterday. What with Christmas, family visits and weekend introductory courses, I haven't actually been to church for a month. Well not on a Sunday anyway, and not to a building that we mistakenly call the church and... Actually I have "been church" over the last month, just not in a standardised and sanitised appointed 1.5 hour worship experience.
Anyway, we toddled off somewhere yesterday and had a good time. Perhaps "good time" is not an appropriate description of what we did, but it will have to suffice. It certainly wasn't traditional, and it wasn't slick, but it was open and relaxed and engaging and okay. Is that the right way to describe a worship event-Okay? Who knows! It was interesting to be part of the congregation, mostly unknown in terms of my background. Only one or two possibly knew I'm a minister and I didn't tell anyone! Not that it's a secret, it just takes a bit of explaining! Rather like explaining that just because I used to work for British Gas didn't qualify me to fit a central heating system or that having studied chemistry that I would be able to fill my grandmother's prescriptions for her because the shop is called "Boots the Chemist" rather than "boots the Pharmacist"!
So what's going to take take time? Well, mostly it's about finding a place within a Christian community. One of the reasons for not disclosing readily my background as a minister is in order to not get pigeonholed into a role of any kind. If I'm a leader, then I want that to emerge through service rather than imposed by virtue of training. Eventually, if we settle in the community we visited, then it will become apparent, more widely known as we become more widely known within the community. The risk I run is being seen as the quiet one who doesn't say much. But then again, keeping quiet isn't a bad habit for someone who's been preaching for twenty years.
I don't know if it's going to be more difficult after two decades of ministry or if we will simply ease ourselves into ordinary church life. I don't know how it will be sitting in the congregation listening to otters do what I used to do. I don't know how I will respond if and when an opportunity to speak is offered. All these things lie ahead of us. I just hope that we don't lose sight of the simple church idea that is forming in our hearts and minds.