August 2015

Hands up

 

There is a cartoon showing someone addressing delegates at a meeting at the UN. He asks them, ‘Who wants there to be change?’, and they all enthusiastically put their hands in the air: he asks them, ‘Who wants to change?’, and they all sit sullenly on their hands.

 

I mention this now because, as you have read before, we have a five-year mission programme across the Deanery of Abbeydore at the heart of which is our kisses towards young people and young families. Just to keep you up to date as to how things are moving forward, we intend to submit an application to the Diocesan Mission Fund to to appoint someone to help us with this work over the next few years. The reasons for this are twofold. First, it can only be sensible if we want to engage with a particular group of people that we use someone with experience in that area rather than waste time reinventing the wheel. Secondly, there is an understandable nervousness among the clergy that the intention is simply to add to their burden. That is not the case. The ultimate aim is not that we should do more: it is that we should do things differently.

 

Let me give you an example. When it comes to worship in our benefice, everything is done in a church and on Sundays. There are now two Family Services a month and four Book of Common Prayer services. It could be that, ultimately, we need to change not just the balance of services but also where and when they take place. In other words, we might need a radical rethink both in our benefice and in the others in the deanery to make sure that everyone - including current worshippers - are properly ministered to. 

 

Now, I might be being unfair, but it could just be that some people who were enthusiastic about our ministering to young people are now more inclined to sit on their hands. So I must repeat that our aim must be that we make sure that current worshippers remain properly ministered to.

 

There are those who think that Jesus came into the world for the sake of our individual salvation: i believe that he came into the world so that the world should be transformed, and that that transformation should be ongoing. He gives us comfort, not so that we should feel comfortable, but so that we should be strong and that we should see, not just that the world needs to be changed, but that we need to be changed as well. And if we are not prepared to welcome that change in the way we lead our Christian life, how seriously do we want change in the world. The way in which we are ministering to young people and young families is clearly not working: are we happy for that to remain the case?

 

So, in our ministry here, I ask two questions: ‘Who wants there to be change?’ and ‘Who wants to change?’ How often have you put your hand up? Twice? Once? Or not at all?