It almost feels as if I ought not to reflect on the things I'm going to share just in case I somehow jinx them and they come to nothing. Ah well, here goes!
It's been an interesting few weeks when it comes to opportunities to live out this missional life. Defining missional remains challenging and the more it becomes a buzz word the more undefined it seems to become. Something doesn't become missional just because you attach the tag missional to it.
Anyway, to the things we've been doing. I mentioned last week the sports event we ran in the village for junior aged children. We didn't have great numbers of kids turning up, but those who did had a good time and I got to meet some people (parents, passers-by, local authority representatives) and share some ideas and vision for the park with them. Is this missional? I suspect the answer could be both yes and no. What was interesting was that everyone with whom I spoke was very positive about what we were doing. I don't know how many of these people would have come had it been a church based event. Not because it was in church, but because it would probably have been run totally internally and not have engaged with organisations and authorities beyond the church. It was a community run project and that made the difference.
Perhaps, in the process of sharing a vision for the park and the story of how we got to where we are at this moment in time is one component of our missional journey as we seek to be part of the community. The gospel after all demands incarnation and where better to live it out than amongst the people Jesus misses most? We've been living in our new community for just over two years now and slowly we are beginning to make connections. It is a slow process, but hopefully slow will also mean deep rather than shallow.
Other things have begun to take shape include some tennis activities in the park and my new role as club therapist at May and Baker RFC. The tennis has taken shape through connections made via Streetlife, a social media platform about community life. We now have a small group of 5 adults playing on a Saturday morning and I do a bit of coaching with them. I've also been asked to provide a bit of coaching on a more formal basis. With a couple of the adults who are playing regularly we're talking about how we can access some school tennis courts where we might be able to start a local club, which would be really interesting.
And then there's the therapy stuff with the rugby club. That's an interesting challenge too in so many ways.
So it seems that finally, after two and half years, that things are beginning to emerge and take a little bit of shape. It's not what you'd describe as runaway success and it certainly won't mean a book deal and lots of invitations to speak at conferences, although I did get an invitation to write an article for a journal that was only going to cost me £400 to take part. And I thought they paid you for writing!! Still we don't do this for fame and fortune, and when you look at what happens to those we raise up onto pedestals, then who would want that anyway.
Which bring me to my final thought this Friday. Reading some of the evangelical news this week, we are once again reminded that success, whatever that looks like, is no guarantee of continued faithfulness and integrity. It's tough, I assume, to remain humble and spiritually grounded when your getting the applause and praise and the criticism that come along too. The latter sometimes out of jealously, sometimes out of genuine concern. We seem to expect so much from those we admire, and even in church circles we haven't learnt much at all from the cult of celebrity that pervades our modern culture. I even heard on the breakfast news one morning this week the newsreader describe President Obama as a celebrity, the biggest one of all no less. The man is President, he a politician, a world leader, He is surely not a celebrity.
When it comes to church leaders we would do well not to create a cult of evangelical celebrity around them. It doesn't help them and it doesn't help us. There are no superstars in the life of the church. Pedestals are for vases and works of art, not servants.