Several things to note about the hols. First 4 days were at a conference for rookie officers, then camping at the aforementioned places in Scotland with accompanying scenery etc.
The officer seminar – interesting. Much more interesting to meet with session mates (from both sessions we somehow managed to be an offical part of!) and to be refreshed by one of the speakers they had come in. A guy (Gary Brotherstone) who was in prison for murder, now an evangelist in prisons through Prison Fellowship as well as giving a very provocative challenge to the church. He was raw, fresh, old fashioned in the good sense of that, real, and was a man who was clearly focussed on the missional task of the church, which must always be primarily to reach the lost whatever clever quotes people can throw back at me regarding mission being more than evangelism. Never said it wasn’t, but people getting saved is probably about the most significant eternal consequence of Christian mission.
Visited Glasgow Elim church on one Sunday morning. Was interested to visit seeing as they had been having meetings 5 nights a week and 4 services at the weekend with a concentration on the stuff coming from Florida. I have to say that in spite of a few healing testimonies, there wasn’t a lot different than when I’ve visited this church before. Still, the church seems to be going from strength to strength, praise God.
Visited Destiny Church, Glasgow, in the evening. Worked in partnership with this church in Dennistoun on the soup run. In the 12 or so years I’ve been aware of them, they’ve gone from meeting in a hired room in a college campus with 40 folks to being a mega church with church plants an satellites in 10 or so cities, some overseas. Their Sunday evening meeting was packed….about 400 people…and I understand that their morning services are now having to take place in one of the cities large auditorium. At the service they were commissioning another 8 leaders to start small communities liked to the church around Scotland. More strength to their elbow!
The next Sunday we worshipped at King Fellowship, Inverness. They had a great (& simple!) service geared towards families that was the most effective I’ve ever seen. Then, they had their main church service. These guys are doing a good work. They can often be found on the streets of Inverness both in the Street Pastors project as well as prayer outreach every Saturday. I found it refreshing.
So, three churches, all in the pentecostal – charismatic spectrum (varying levels within it) and all doing a really good job reaching their communities.
Tracy commented in her blog on another of the thoughts that I guess was part of our collective pondering over the holidays. At our conference, the question raised a few times in a few ways was ‘is the Army a cruise ship or a lifeboat?’ It was really brought to life for us when, on two seperate occassions, huge ocean liners – one in Greenock (the Grand Princess – Google it), one in the Cromarty Firth. These things are pretty impressive, huge, overwhelming.
My primary response to seeing those ships was “I could never afford to go on that, and even if I did, I don’t think I could stand to be stuck on it with very little chance to get off.”
My next response was “I wonder what it feels like to be part of the crew. I wonder if they enjoy serving people lazing about on their holiday? I wonder if every crew member feels happy and fulfilled in his own position or if they are longing just to climb the ladder? I wonder if there is a oneness to the crew or if there are ‘classes’ of crew like you would get servants in a palace…you know, ‘Upstairs and Downstairs'(old British TV sitcom) kind of thing.
I then contrast all that to the lifeboat? The crew is small and intimate with the soul purpose of saving the one perishing. Every man’s task is vital, whether steering the boat, reading the map, on the radio, or back in the lifeboat station ensuring stuff is safe, keeping communication open, making provision for ongoing care of those saved.
Can you see the parallels or do I have to spell them? Its an interesting contrast to make. It brings me back to Booth’s vision of Salvationists pulling the lost out of the sea of misery. Booth’s line of thought in that vision is that no Christian should ever feel content and forget that there are people still to be rescued just because they themselves are saved. His contention was that all effort should be put into the rescue mission.
I bring my question back to the churches I visited. Cruise ships or lifeboat stations? They have the appearances of cruise ships, all three of them in that from the outside they all look polished and very comfortable to be part of. If they weren’t reaching out, fully of ‘transfer’ Christians, if they were lazing around being content to ‘enjoy God’ then I’d say they were cruise ships. But actually, in them, I saw active lifeboats reaching out and saving the lost. Yes, their boats were shiny, well oil, and well maintained often involving lots of staffing and all the rest….but then, every lifeboat crew I’ve ever seen have run a very efficient vessel.
The difference, I feel, is the task. Are we about sitting back to relax, or are we about saving the lost? You can do both in a variety of ways and with varying degrees of success…the point is, where is our focus?