05 September 2008

Just do it!

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We're in the early stages of planning for a youth camp for St Neots in 2009. We didn't decide to do this, it is just happening to us - and it's great! The riverbank in St NeotsWhy is the church sometimes so sluggish in getting things done? We'll come back to that question later, but first you should hear a little news.

Last Monday (1st September) we had a meeting to pray, discuss, and think about young people in St Neots. Jim, Sean and I were joined by Ben and Pete. After introductions, Pete told us about his background and explained about the camps he runs for young people in the Bedford area. By the end of the evening we had the beginnings of a plan, Pete had been proactive and booked space for a hundred young people next summer. We were astonished and encouraged. 'Just do it' is an effective way forward!

So, back to our question, 'Why is the church sometimes so sluggish in getting things done?'

It all comes down to an inability to 'just do it'. What prevents us? The answer to this lies deep in our understanding of what church is. The New Testament writers often refer to the church in a particular place, sometimes it's a city or town, sometimes it's a house, but significantly it's rarely anything between these two extremes.

Paul could write to the church in Corinth or Ephesus, but if he was writing today and addressed a letter to the 'Church in St Neots' or the 'Church in Cambridge' who would read the letter? Would it be delivered to the largest Anglican Church in town? Or would it go first to the Catholics, or the Baptists, or the United Reformed Church? Middle sized organisations of that kind were unknown in Paul's day, when he wrote to the church in a city he was writing to a single entity consisting of all the believers in that place.

But when he mentions the church that meets in Nympha's house or the church that meets in Priscilla and Aquila's house he knows exactly what he means. Not a gathering of 200 or 300 believers meeting in one place, but a small group meeting in an ordinary home. Clearly, a number of these small groups cooperated as the church in the city.

When we meet in large groups of several hundred we need a system of management and we need committees or a hierarchy to make decisions. Proposals have to be approved, resources must be made available, and discussions held to agree the details. This may take significant amounts of time. When we meet in a home decisions can be made there and then as we pray and share our thoughts and receive guidance through the Spirit.

Yahshua did not spend a lot of time planning. Instead he reacted to whatever he saw or heard. He always reacted in love towards the Father or towards the people he met, or both. Sometimes he reacted in anger, usually his reaction came in the form of teaching, questions, or action of some sort, but kindness and grace were present in everything he did - always. Everything he did was for the Father's glory, he healed the sick, he revealed the truth, he comforted the distressed and the broken-hearted. Not only did he bring good news, he was good news. Indeed he is The Good News. The good news is the news that the Messiah has come and brings healing and reconciliation.

What he did we are called to do too. If we plan less but begin to react to whatever we see and hear he will work in us and through us to glorify the Father. Acts of heavenly kindness and grace will replace acts of earthly mind and will. This is a hard lesson to learn because it runs counter to intuition and common sense, but it's a lesson we must learn if we're to become more fully fruitful and effective in the Kingdom.

This is not to say that larger organisations cannot react quickly or spontaneously in response to specific issues, just that they find it much harder than small groups.

We need to learn to be like the Master, to be good news wherever and whenever possible. Not merely to speak the good news, but to live it individually by responding right away in love and grace.

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