yes I am writing to you again, writing because I hear your desire for renewal and growth, I am also writing because I need you to know that I do not have a quick fix solution to bring people flooding through our doors. Let me burst a current few myth bubbles; "they" are no going to come if we install a data projector and install a screen, "they" won't come because we have decided to replace the organ with a worship band. "They" might come to a special event if you invite "them", but it is unlikely that "they" will come again on Sunday morning....
Oh and while we are talking about Sunday morning I'd just like to say that I think we've blown its importance out of all proportion especially when we measure our successes by Sunday morning attendance, or use it as a barometer of our health.
I wonder if you'd come with me through the doors to meet "them", your friends, your neighbours, your children even, these are the folk who don't come. It is easy to criticise "them" in our meetings and gatherings, but when you get out there amongst "them" the picture is quite different. You'll find you know "them", that you understand "them" and even dare I say that you like "them".
So maybe the question is not so much about how we get "them" to come, but more about how we share with these friends and neighbours and families of ours the miracle and mystery of a living relationship, our living relationship with God. I think you will find that most of your neighbours won't want to argue the finer points of doctrine with you, but they'll probably accept a helping hand and even a prayer in a time of need. Or maybe it will be the other way around, maybe the gracious and humble way that you accept their help will speak to them....
Be confident in your relationship with God, it is not about knowing all of the right answers, we'll never know all of the right answers, but it is about the mystery that we are loved and accepted by the creator of the universe who knows us through and through with all of our faults and flaws. It is about the peace that passes understanding in the most difficult of circumstances, the light that shines in dark places, and the hope that will not let us go even in the face of adversity.
Here is a wonder that we too often forget, Jesus ministry and mission did not stop at the cross for he overcame death and was raised to life, fullness of glorious resurrection life, and this is the life that he invites us into. And while we so often remember that the cross is where all of our wrongs are forgiven, I wonder how often we focus upon our unworthiness and forget that the cross is where all of our guilt (often self imposed) and shame is also cleaned away. I wonder how often we wear masks, brittle and hard masks of self sufficiency because we feel that as Christians we should have it all together. I wonder if sometimes we have worn them for so long that they have become a part of us. I wonder if we are aware that our friends and neighbours and children, "they" see something false in us because we are not being true to ourselves or before God.
So here is the challenge, lets not focus on attracting folk with technology and trying to be up to date for we'll fail there anyway. Instead lets focus on living out a life of love, let's focus on being Jesus disciples living with our own brokenness in a broken world and seeking to make a journey towards wholeness and daring to invite others towards us. Let's dare to become again a living and vibrant community of faith able to live with our questions and the questions of others. Let's become a people who celebrate life in all of its richness and diversity, let's value one another for who we are, learning to love God, others and even ourselves as we journey together. Let's not worry about Sundays but rather seek to live this celebratory life everyday, let's learn to be our true authentic Christian selves with our friends, family and neighbours, lets stop referring to "them" as "them" and work towards becoming us for we are all on a journey.
Maybe we need to stop fretting and worrying and start being, maybe when we seek for renewal and growth in ourselves we'll begin to see our lives touch the lives of others. Maybe as we seek to be generous with our lives. we'll prompt people to open up with God, our generous Father in heaven.