26.7.05

Jesus Army life ain't easy

Arrive home after dropping a friend off from work. Then play-fight with resident teenager. Followed by stupid argument with best friend (over poetry books!) Relaxing dinner ending with passing round a bucket of penny-sweets several times. Great laughter over brother who hates the sour taste forcing himself to swallow them. Household Leader's meeting.

For those of you really interested in the nuts and bolts of community life. We decided to firm up my post as household/domestic deacon (which means I oversee all the work involving cooking and cleaning, garden and house improvements, furniture, and other materials intended for general use). Basically it was felt that the homemaking instinct was getting out of hand and we were probably spending too much. Fairly amusing to hear a brother complain about some projects until he remembered his own scheme, he then requested that he (with the other elders) should receive a report about the finances before they were shown to the rest of the house.

We also discussed keeping our vision and targets in sight, upcoming baptisms and how our flock was doing. It was good to see six men standing and holding hands at the end for the future work of Jesus.

One recurring question lately has been whether I believe my church has a future? Strange question until you consider the uphill struggle we face as a community orientated church.
It is easier to draw a crowd than to grow a family.

Communities take time to build and are not the fastest model when it comes to planting new churches. Nurturing interconnected relationships involves personal sacrifice. It's not simply a matter of filling pews on Sunday, creaming off the strongest Christians for a new church project and ignoring the high turnover in the rest of the congregation. Establishing a community means that every member counts and that every member has something to contribute. The strongest among us lay down what advantage we have for the weakest.

Add to this experience the need to reach other people for Jesus and you have a lot of work on your hands. Keeping Jesus central as your own life wanes away becomes quite a challenge. There don't seem to be that many willing to make that kind of sacrifice and my question is really about whether I can really maintain the sacrifice myself, let alone go on to pioneer a new church elsewhere. I know I could have made an easier choice and it's tempting to think that the easier choice would be better...

However, I do think this church has a future and because it does I want to be part of it. It's not only knowing what God is doing and has done among us that persuadesJesus Army life can wear you out! me. From a human viewpoint I can see that the UK desperately needs a church that is going to stand against soul-suffocating consumer culture, a church that shouts loudly the name of Jesus amid all the other brand names on the high street, a church that encourages grassroots movement, fosters close relationships and is renowned for helping the needy. I want a church that reflects Kingdom values as Jesus saw them: a consecrated people loving the outcasts.

I look to God to help us (to help me) because it's not easy.