Today I was simply thrilled to sit in a room with Methodist pioneer and Fresh Expression workers and just hear some fantastic stories of what God was doing on what is still probably the fringes of the Methodist Church, although becoming much more central. So many of the stories evoked precious memories of situations, places, moments where I’ve witnessed the Kingdom at its best and the church at its most potent. These are great good news stories that should be shared and shared.
Under all of that stuff, under and around all the stories are the frustrations that can arise. Frustrations about ordination, sacraments, maintaining an internal political correctness. Hearing the honest and open heart ache of people doing the real stuff and facing stuff which, in comparison, is insignificant housekeeping made to look like the most important thing in the world. We’re all good at this in church…of majoring on the minors and not stopping to look at the massive generosity of God’s call and hand in some of the more edgy stuff.
Today I kept reasonably silent, just savouring the stories, the people, the atmosphere of experimentation, the bold asking of pertinent mission questions. Great to quietly encourage, to be attentive and to offer prayer as well as receive it.
In every church context, those risking failure by trying new things are always far ahead of those already failing by not trying. The Kingdom of God is not predictable, not safe and calls for sacrifice in many ways. At the crux of it all are people who are just passionate about getting Kingdom news out, even it if means prising the Kingdom out of the hands of those who think they own it. When we follow the Lord Almighty, we are following the one who cannot be contained in ecclesiastical boxes, and who I believe actually thinks a lot less of our Orders and Regulations than we sometimes do.
I’ve learned over the years to hold church polity very lightly, giving honour where it is due, but seeking to honour the King above all. I think I learned that from Jesus, I hope I did.