What is it going to take?
There’s an old joke about a man who is washed up on a deserted island after his boat sinks. He cries out: “Save me, God! I know you can do it!”
A short time later a rescue boat appears. They beckon to him however he rejects their rescue. “God will save me,” he tells them. The boat leaves.
A little later a seaplane flies overhead, lands, and tell him they are here to rescue him. “There is no need,” he says. “God will save me.” The plane takes off.
A little later still, a rescue helicopter lands on the beach to save him, and again he rejects their offer. “You can go on your way. God will save me.” The helicopter leaves, never to return.
Sadly, the man perishes. He is a faithful man, and on entering heaven, he asks God if he didn’t have enough faith to be saved. God responds: “But I sent you a boat, a plane, and a helicopter…”
What is it going to take for us to recognise we’re being given the opportunity to take stock of what we’re doing so that we can make life-giving changes to make things better? Changes that will allow us to engage more deeply in God’s mission so that our congregations are places of warm welcome, generous empathy, and landmarked by our approach to being neighbourly?
Places that young people might even find safe to explore their understanding of who they are, where they fit, and what their purpose in life is.
Prior to COVID affecting our gatherings we were already in a position where our numbers were shrinking; especially the numbers of people under 30. With COVID last year we had a chance to take stock and re-evaluate what we were doing, and yet as soon as we could turn on the lights and gather together again we fell over ourselves in a race to make church just like it was (except maybe this time we were livestreaming one or more services now).
Racing back to what we were doing will only deliver us the results we were getting…and they weren’t great.
Disruption – like what COVID delivered us – can often be a great catalyst for change.
When God became man, entering this world as a baby, it disrupted everything.
The way people engaged with God.
The way they understood grace, repentance and forgiveness.
They rules they followed to stay right with God.
Everything changed. Everything.
That our Creator would want to identify with us that God became man in Jesus Christ, teach us about God’s new way, suffer on our behalf, and remain with us as the Holy Spirit is disruptive on a global scale–even today.
In disrupting the way the world had become, God was offering a better way. A new way. A way that enabled us to love God and love our neighbours. A way that elevated the downtrodden and sought justice for the oppressed (the kind of justice Archbishop Desmond Tutu talks about when he says we
“shouldn’t just be helping people out of the river; we should go upstream and stop what is making them fall in.”). God challenges us to offer love beyond our understanding so that all might experience the kind of abundant life we live now (John 10:10).
So don’t let this moment pass you by.
Stop. Pause and pray. Contemplate.
Take your shot.
Engage with what God is inviting you into in this disruption, and what God is calling you to change. It could be very personal, or it could be something that affects your entire community.
God’s invitation to participate in God’s mission already at work in the world is for all of us.
What is it going to take for you and me…for us…to notice?