The Diocese of Oxford is defending its invitation to a Muslim...
Liking it neat is good - as far as it goes. I like to leave my desk neat, my ‘immediate action’ in tray clear and my e-mail inbox empty.
Leadership thrives on neatness, but people – people just aren’t neat are they?
When I look back over almost five years as Rector of St Giles I congratulate myself for times I’ve had faith to surrender different mission ventures into other hands I can’t control, people not quite of my philosophy, style or churchmanship.
Would we have put in those welcoming glass doors, established the monthly village lunch, started up Friends of Horsted Keynes Church to help our Norman building or renovated the Church Centre without my entrusting leadership to others and risking outcomes that might look in some very little way untidy to me?
The latest ‘untidiness’ is a monthly non-eucharistic Sunday service in the Centre which had 60 folk attending, many from other denominations, a few excitingly from no Christian background, facilitated by someone newish to St Giles with brilliant leadership gifts and of a more Evangelical persuasion. I say untidy because my upbringing is ‘it’s the Mass that matters’, Sunday obligation to Eucharist etc, and I’ve had to shelve some of that to bless this new monthly venture away from the altar of St Giles at which I’m back seat on the computer, projecting New Wine type songs onto a screen, whilst others lead worship and teaching.
They say Evangelicals are good at getting people into Church and Catholics are good at keeping them there and it resonates with my albeit limited experience. As a broad Church the strength of the Church of England is often in leadership coalitions such as that in our new 5pm service which is clearly throwing a simple line to folk, some of whom we pray will find their way to the fullness of the Eucharist.
I’ve mentioned our scissor blade strategy for numerical growth before. Much prayer and many invitations went into cutting forward the ground for the 5pm service which is based on surveys showing that hour to be the preferred hour, particularly for family worship on a Sunday.
It changes the shape and dynamic of St Giles – interactive Sunday worship on a new site – but so far I feel this untidiness to be a work of the Holy Spirit.