Preaching on Sunday reminded me of a few things that I'd probably allowed to drift out of my line of sight in recent months. When I preach these days, and it's not very often at all, this was only the second time this year, I tend simply to share my heart rather than do a good old fashioned expository sermon. That's not because I don't think such an approach has no value, but at the moment because I guess it's just about trying to share what has been the concern of my heart for the last few years. Plus the fact that I wasn't given a topic or theme or text, so it seemed an appropriate approach. Little did I know that it would be so pertinent to where the church finds itself at this moment in time. Reminder number one: God knows what he is doing!
The second reminder was more personal. It was the reminder that this is what I do, this is part of the shape God has given to my life and that ought not to be ignored or rejected just because I'm no longer leading a church. I don't have to preach, but I ought not to avoid it just because it's no longer a regular part of my life. That means taking the responsibility seriously when I get asked. If I get asked!
The third reminder was about the things for which I have a passion. I may have no idea how to start whatever it is we're starting or supposed to start in South Ockendon, but I do have something in my head and heart that is not just a frustrated outworking of my concerns about the legacy model of church.
The truth is that our society is accelerating away from us and we are failing to keep pace with it. We are more out of touch than we were a year ago and getting further out of touch as I write.
There many other reminders yesterday. Things like preaching is not always, if ever, about how good you are, but about how God uses you; that the bigger the church, the harder change will probably be simply because getting everyone to reimagine things isn't easy; it's okay to do what we do "in" church, but if that doesn't translate into something we do beyond the building amongst the people of our communities, then what value does it have?
And to the people who took the time to speak to me afterwards and encourage me, a big thank you. I know that the folk that didn't like what I said, or didn't approve of the way I said it, won't usually come to speak to me afterwards, so I know that the positive response was not the whole church's response, but that's okay.