Labour Pains 3: Talking To Ourselves.

As I have said before as a lover of the Labour Party, I feel so so sad to see it struggling, but think it’s current struggles have much to say to us as the Church.

I spoke about the dilemma the Labour Party have in a popular leader of integrity, yet one whose integrity will cost them votes and seats, and the debate about “selling out” to be popular, and selling out to be in power.
I spoke too, about the way people who are “have more in common than that which divides us” just seem unable to put asisde their difference for the sake of the big cause and greater vision, which is currently true of both the Labour Party and also true for us in the Church.
Today, I’m thinking about the danger of talking to ourselves, which -so I’m told- is a sign of madness, but the whole point of politics is not just to talk to the core supporters, they will vote for you anyway, what you need is to be talking to the people who aren’t yet going to give you their vote, the undiscided, or those who may change their allegiance from another political party.
Yet it is so easy to end up simply talking to ourselves, but this a fake world and an unreal bubble, and the more we talk to ourselves the less we become able to talk to those from outside the bubble effectively.
One of the phrases we often hear on question time is politicians talk about talking to people on the doorstep…
How often -if ever- does the Church talk to real people on their door step?
Are we interested in what people who don’t know Christ really think, or are we more worried about not upsetting the more vocal and prickly Church stalwarts.
In Churches we only ever seem to speak to ourselves, our meetings full of already believers, our social events become Christian Cliques. I think days -possibly even weeks- might go by without a Pastor of a Church actually talking to a person who isn’t already a Christian!
In fact the whole Pastoral model of ministry has left people under the illusion that the Pastors job is tea and sympathy for those inside the Church, their own personal chaplain to come running when they get the sniffles… And ignoring that there are other roles within the five fold ministries, Apostle, Prophets, Evangelists and Teachers…
I think Churches embrace the idea of Pastor and reject or try to ignore the other of the five fold ministries because it is the only inward looking ministry and people like to be looked after.
This idea of just simply keeping the faithful happy has never been a model that has worked either in the world of Politics or the Church, as however hard you work neither are happy in fact they just get more and more grumpy and more and more demanding, and underneath it all is the inescapable feeling that we aren’t doing what we should be.
When we look at Jesus’ Ministry, he was always sending people out, equipping people, learning  about mission by being missional. I wonder whether his model for ministry could be found in Luke 15, the parable of the lost sheep. Where the Good Shepherd doesn’t just hang out with the sheep drinking coffee and eating digestives but goes and seeks out the lost, leaving the 99 to fend for themselves.
We were never meant to be Holy Huddles being spoon-fed by a Pastor, instead we are meant to be a missionary movement with people with different to come alongside us to enable us to be more fruitful.
Bishop David Pytches said “the Meeting Place (the Church) is the training place for the Market Place”.
A reminder that what really matters about Church is its fruitfulness in the world, someone else said “the mark of a successful Church is not how many people sit in its pews but  how differently people live in the world as a result of being part of the local Church”.
It’s time to burst the bubble.
It’s time to get up out of the Holy huddle open the door and get out on the streets, the tea break is over.
I believe the Holy Spirit is calling his Church to stop navel gazing and look out to the world we are supposed to transform.
Let’s stop talking to ourselves, and start engaging with people who are literally dying to hear about Jesus.
Whose coming with me?

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