[No specific church was harmed or referenced to in the writing of this.]
When everything is new around me, it gets my over-active brain doing even more thinking and reflecting. My husband and I recently moved and, like travelling, it seems to have inspired new perspectives and horizons.
I’ve been captured by a fresh way of thinking about church: church as a hub*, not a rota. It all started as I got to know a neighbour. Our new home is a newbuild. Everyone moves in on the same weekend, making it easy to know who’s living next-door. So we’ve become friends with a lady who lives opposite.
As the months have gone on, together with our neighbour we have shared the experience of moving to a new area. For me, the benefit of having a fresh start has meant my time is not over-filled with a rota of activities and so I’ve had the time to share life with her. At one point, she asked if she could come to church with us and now we go regularly together. I’m excited about where our friendship will lead.
This natural way of ‘being in the world but not of the world’ has led me to consider how to use my time. I want God to have room to use me in my community and family in ways that span the normal activities of life.
We need to think about this practical way of living, alongside all the organised activities of church. There’s a place for both but often we can get caught up with being on so many committees, groups and planning teams that we don’t experience God in the everyday. I know that giving all my time to church rotas is only a part of gospel living. It excludes me from actually living an adventure in God’s world, filled by His spirit.
So let’s make church a hub, a community, a space for growing and worship. We need to continue to go to church and be accountable to one another. And of course it’s important for our churches to be visible in our communities.
But it’s equally important to not get so stretched being part of this visible church that we don’t have time for our neighbours or families.
Maybe for you, like me, this is a call to the ‘right’ balance of involvement. It may also be a call for those who aren’t involved in church, to get involved. God’s Church is precious and we are it, in organised ways and in everyday activities.
Here are a few questions to get you and your church leaders thinking about whether you’re getting the balance right:
1. How many meetings a week do we run about the administration of church?
2. Is there a culture in our churches that calls us to devote our lives to the running of the church, rather than running outside with the gospel?
3. Isn’t it an imbalance when we do more church meetings than live mission in our families and communities?
4. How much space do we give God to lead us into spontaneous encounters with the world?
*hub – The central part of a wheel, rotating on or with the axle, and from which the spokes radiate.
Image by Elvis Santanavia stock.xchng images.