Friday, 4 December 2009
I'm ashamed about the length of time since i last blogged.... blah, blah, blah...
The good thing is that i'm in Lancaster for a few days this week on a retreat, staying in a lovely flat, playing on my computer, listening to music, reading & praying - really chilled out and informal. It has been great. I love Lancaster, it is rapidly becoming one of my favourite places - if the Methodist Stationing committee are reading this, please take note for the future! The last time i was here i was bereaved to find that the Juicafe had closed. It was a cool little wifi juice bar with a lovely atmosphere, friendly staff and a lovely quirkiness about it. A few times i even blogged from there such was its specialness!
How upset i was to find it no longer there on my last stay. Yesterday, by accident, i discovered that actually it still existed, just in a different place. I know this sounds ridiculous, but i can't explain how exited and full of joy i was to find it once again. And so here i am today, spilling my thoughts as i sat drinking a lovely latte, which was accompanied by possibly the nicest piece of toast ever in the history of the world!!!
This rediscovery of the juicafe made me ponder on a few things i had re-discovered over the last few days. Firstly, i had rediscovered my passion for Methodism. Now, please don't misunderstand me, i am a realist, (unlike my current superintendent). I don't believe our denomination is healthy, i don't believe it has direction or purpose, i don't believe it is following God's leading on the whole, i find our structures outdated, irrelevant and often hindering to the work of ministry today. I felt all this last week and still feel it today. What i've rediscovered is a love for it nonetheless. Perhaps it is that God is raising up more and more people who love Him and love His church and long to see it reformed and renewed. I count myself among those, and am passionate about it. Maybe God can still work something spectacular even within Methodism.
Secondly, i have re-discovered my passion for renewal. I have just read David Watson's autobiography and found it a bit like reading (through someone else's words and life) all of your own passions and convictions - its just that i'd forgotten them! I still long, more than anything else for God to renew His church. Where i've shifted is that, i often believed and longed for the renewal of our whole denomination. Maybe that will come, maybe it won't, what i do believe is that God can and will renew individual lives, whatever badge of Christianity they happen to wear. So i am exited and delighted in the lives i have seen changed throughout the duration of 'my' ministry and am exited about all the other lives that God will surely renew and touch. I find once again, that i have more passion for one person's faith to be rekindled and revitalised than i do for a thousand 'heathens' to come to Christ. Maybe that's slightly heretical, but that's where i'm at.
Lastly, i have re-discovered a challenge to discipleship. I shared with some colleagues this week that i felt God had shown me gently and mercifully that i had become so obsessed with building a good church, achieving growth and success as a church leader that i had lost any care for the individual lives that go to make that up. Now, almost every church i have been involved in has seen numerical growth, i expect that to continue, but for me, it must be through a focus on individuals finding transformation and hope for themselves and then joining the faith community, rather than just focusing on numbers on a sheet of connexional returns.
I was lamenting that i had somewhat wasted my time in Lancaster yesterday, but perhaps my rediscovery of the juicafe, prompted a closer examination of the things God is re-surfacing in me. At this rate, i should be fully recovered from the drab environment of theological college in only another 10 years or so!