When I was 19 I did a year out and I worked with this guy Tony Washington, who used to do training in Youth and Children’s Work, and we used to do lots of very long journeys around the North East. I remember having a conversation about why (at that time) I didn’t like Bishops (I like a number of Bishops now!) and for some reason this popped back into my head this week.
I had just come back to God, a friend had died and that had made me re-evaluate what did (and didn’t really matter), and I had realized through her death something of the urgency of the gospel… If you die apparently not knowing Jesus then there is no assurance of salvation, and that is scary.
I had the eyes of a new believe looking at a creaky Church institution and was asking where is the urgency? Why were the people who were meant to be leading us seem so chilled out about people coming to know Jesus?
If this stuff (salvation) really matters why does everyone seem to be faffing around on things that aren’t important? Why when we have a Church full of not-yet-believers do we get a sermon about…I dunno what but it lost me… (and I knew about half of the long words they were using!)
The 19 year old me wanted to see fire, passion, wanted to see a vision to reach out and change the world for Christ and instead it just wasn’t happening.
I wanted to see leaders I could rally around and follow.
We need “Saints” people who inspire and encourage us in our faith (not advocating putting people on pedestals) but we do need to see faith lived out around us in inspiring ways.
Church and its leadership did (and does) sometimes think that jaded apathy, gloomy defeatism is somehow a sign of greater spiritual maturity and that youthful fire was ‘a bit naïve’ I was (somewhat patronisingly told) -maybe people were trying to save me from disappointments (of which there have been plenty, but I’d rather have disappointments and failures than have flat-lined a faded away).
Fortunately no one told the apostles or the heroes of Hebrews 11 that they were being a bit too enthusiastic (or if they did I’m glad they were ignored!)
Teenagers and young adults are a heroic age, God has placed idealism, enthusiasm and fire within us and we want to make a difference, we want to change the world.
There are plenty of places which will give a compelling vision for world transformation, politics, charity works, self-help guru’s…
Yet why isn’t the Church at the forefront of inspiring people to change the world, because we have the highest and the greatest of commissions “to go into all the world and make them my disciples!”, “May your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven!”.
I think actually over the past 20 years Bishops have got better at spearheading vision of mission and justice… but our
Churches are sometimes tired old institutions that sap our energy, quash our enthusiasm, damped our vision and sow seeds of doubt to our calling.
I remember reading Richard Dawkins who said of Christianity in the UK that is was “mostly harmless” -this idea that Christ’s Church isn’t doing anything much, isn’t what Christ wants.
I want a dangerous faith…
I want to be part of something that will last forever.
I want to be part of the greatest move on the planet for human good.
We need a revolution.
We need a return to Acts 2.
Let’s see Church rise from her slumber and once again change the world.
Are you with me in this dream?
If so, let’s turn this dream into a reality?