(Taken from the talk by Howard Jameson’s talk yesterday, the wise and profound bits are from Howard, the less wise bits are from me!).
Doesn’t sound great does it? -but let’s look at it a bit closer!
How grubby is Church?
This isn’t how effective the cleaning rota is… although sometimes we can value the cleanliness of our buildings above blessing the community.
I wrote recently about how buildings are useful tools but sometimes our thinking around buildings has got confused and sometimes in some cases almost idolatrous!
Holiness is a word that makes people think that people like them aren’t welcome (when the truth is none of us is Holy, only Jesus).
At the heart of Gods character is Holiness where all the other traits of his characters stem (his love, grace and goodness) from this…
Jesus was so Holy that he knew that touching the grubby would make them Holy, Infecting with his Goodness rather than being contaminated by sin.
Jesus risk his reputation by engaging with the messy of hurting and broken lives, eating and visiting the home of sinners and tax collectors.
Whilst listening to Howard, I was reminded of a cracking quote from Pope Francis who said: “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.”
I drifted off for a second thinking of Bonhoeffer two fellowships the superficial “fellowship of the righteous” and the more real and authentic “fellowship of sinners” where people were real about life and its pains and struggles. Bonhoeffer reflected that if meeting with other Christians could (and did) cost him his life then when they met together in these dangerous conditions Church had to be “grubby” -real, worts and all Church.
How SAD is your Church?
Where is the songs of lament?
Do we give space for our culture to truthfully express what they feel, including the bits they feel frustrated and disappointed in?
Are we a Church that can cry together? Then when one part hurts every part hurts, rather than the “I’m alright Jack” attitude we see from time to time.
Where is the outlet for us to protest and express our pains and frustrations and disappointment about life?
Superficiality and dutiful obligated joy feel fake to our generation, as we long for authenticity and want to be heard.
Again, a Church that can be real and broken, is paradoxically a Church when we can celebrate the real joys together too.
How much of A PEST is your Church?
A PEST actually stands for the 5Fold ministries, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds (or called Pastors) and Teachers.
Apostles take something out from the Church to the people, Prophets say the uncomfortable things and are the friends who lovingly challenge us, Evangelists bring people into Church, and the two roles we really value in the west is Pastoral Care (we want you to sort our problems out and visit us) and Teachers (we want you to ‘do Church well and not be too boring”). Yet Church when it is healthy and functioning is operating in each of these areas of gifting.
The leader can’t be all of these, no one person cam, but a leaders job is to identify those with the gifts and liberate them, to be able to serve.
Need to be where the people at.
Howard left us with a few questions, including:
Do we allow people to play artistically, liturgically, theologically and Spiritually? -Do we allow
Or do we expect them to conform to our inherited model?
He explored the theme of new wine skins, a picture used by Jesus, which talks of old skins bursting with the new wine…
Asking is the ‘wine-skin’ we have able to cope with what God is doing, and what he is calling his people to be?
Are we ready to be a sad, grubby Church that’s A PEST? -I hope so!