For What Shall We Be Known?

I’ve been out on the road with my colleagues (and Hospital Corners for one night only) challenging church people to think about the question ‘For what shall we be known?’

It has been fascinating to hear what people around Scotland aspire to and also the things that they think hold them back from being the church that they want to be.

Fear seems to be the biggest barrier.  For me that makes for an interesting duality.  The fear seems to be of failure but it would seem to all but the most optimistic that failure is in many ways upon us.  We really don’t have much to lose but we are still scared of losing what little we have.

The ‘barrier’ between old and young has had a few airings.  I’ve been working with churches for a number of years now and this is one of the most talked about reasons for not moving forward.  I don’t get it.  Never have.  Firstly ‘old’ and ‘young’ in church are states of mind.  We often replace ‘young’ with forward looking and ‘old’ with staid.  Those terms are in no way interchangeable.  Some of the most progressive Christians are old.  Some of the most resistant to change are the young.

So, ‘For what shall we be known?’

My answer is ‘For our acceptance of all.’  I hope and pray that the church of Jesus Christ will be a true reflection of him.

During our discussions we explore the journey of Peter from fisherman to church leader.  It is quite a journey.  Peter had to unlearn so much of his Jewish upbringing.  That must have challenged him, scared him.  I wonder if Peter agonised over the things that held him back, or perhaps Jesus chose him because he was the one who acted first and thought later.

I hope the thing we shall not be known for is our continued self criticism and tendency to wallow in our procrastination.  It is time to move on.  To leave behind the things that hold us back and to be the Church we dream of.

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