About Me

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Loving the Church of England...



So I've just got back from this years 'Leadership Conference' which for me, followed right after another leadership event at the weekend. The result is that my journal is a riot of scribbled notes, sound bites and instructions to myself to 'go further', 'look this up', or 'find out who this guy is' and it definitely all needs some deciphering, and a few days of prayer and processing…

One thing though, that I feel God has been reminding me of throughout all this, is how much I feel called to the Church of England. Which is kind of handy seeing as as I work and train within it... Regular readers of this blog will know how frustrated I get with the church sometimes, it tends to comes out in a good ranty blog post every now and then, but I usually try and counteract those rants by saying ' but I still love the Church of England', and today I feel that more than ever.

One question that was posed over the last few days was 'What would God have you do?'. There are hundreds of ways I think I could answer that question, whether I answer it in relation to my daily walk with God, or in relationships with friends, or as I have been focussing on - as someone who works within the church. What would God have me do within the church? within my role or future roles? And I think for me, these are the key areas

Influence

I am fascinated by the idea of influence. How we as individuals can influence others on behalf of God's kingdom and how that can play out in a larger way, in society. 'Influence' can so easily have a negative connotation but the Latin it derives from: in-fluere meant influx, or a flowing in, which implies a more gentle feeding in of ideas. I love the idea of God's Holy Spirit flowing into society, into the world around us, through us - like we are the gates that control how much water goes through. If we fail to recognise our role of influence, less of God's spirit gets in. We need to recognise that and be more of an influence. I would love to see the church, or churches have more of an inflowing into the communities they serve, a gentle influx of the spirit of God, through us, God's people.

Ambition

I think it was Nicky Gumble who said at the conference, 'be ambitious as Christians' because otherwise we are selling God short. Nothing is too great for God, scripture tells us that, but so often we sell ourselves short and as a result we sell God short. If we believe we are made in God's image, if we believe that through salvation Christ lives in us, if we believe as Paul says 'I can do all things through him who gives me strength' then what are we waiting for? Think big, dream high, be led by God and the sky is the limit.


Transformation


One of the Anglican 'Five Marks of Mission' is 'To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation'. So taking that a step further, I wonder, do we, as The Church or as the churches, actually seek to transform society? I still believe that the Church of England has a privileged position in society and a role to play in shaping that society. That role is fast waning, but let's do something about that, let's do something to help people believe in the church again, as a force for good in society. I heard a lot at the weekend about the William Wilberforce Trust and rehabilitation of ex offenders, addicts and the homeless, and it was an absolute joy to see people whose lives were broken beyond all imagination, now, clean, healed, restored, happy.  What if the whole church, and by that I mean all of us, not just the 'powers that be', actually worked together to see transformation happen?

Frustration

As I have said, I love the church but I also get frustrated with it and I know I'm not the only one! This morning when I was praying I had a real sense of God saying that we need to help people through their frustration. It seems so simple but often people get cross about things, or are particular about something within the church because they have a frustration with it. Whether that is the bureaucracy - needing a faculty which takes months just to put in a loo, or whether it is a lack in enthusiasm from within the congregation, or the dwindling numbers in the church, or the judgemental attitudes of some people, or the finger pointing... whatever it is, I think that most people in the church, have the good of the church in their hearts (and hopefully the love of Jesus too!). But people get wound down by the rules and regulations, the disappointments, the pain and so on, and as leaders within the church we have to enable people to see past that and to really to focus on why the church is there and what it can do to serve its parish or the community around it. 

So for me, all that is hopefully influencing what I do in my role, and where it takes me in the future I don't know, but my dream is to see a Church of England that is playing a big part in transforming our society, seeing God's Kingdom come and showing the love of Christ wherever we are… 

"For nothing is impossible for God" 
(Luke 1:37)



2 comments:

Jan g. said...

Would be happy to be in a church you end up vicaring in!

Red said...

ah thanks :) x