No confidence in the Kingdom

Oct 11th, 2006 | By | Category: Ministry

Our diocesan synod meets next week. This morning one of the synod members ‘phoned me to talk about what I would say. Being honest, I hadn’t thought about it.

A few years ago I was at a clergy seminar run by John Truscott, an English church consultant. It was an adventurous gathering on developing a vision for your church. It was most enjoyable until John asked us how we were going to make our visions for the futures of our churches into something real. “What will your church be like in five years time?” he asked. It was time to keep the head down and look at the feet. There were sheets at the end that we were to fill out and take away with us. The questions on the sheets went something like, ‘As a result of this seminar what are you going to do over the next seven days? What are you going to do over the next month? What are you going to do over the next year?’ We were given five minutes to fill in the sheet. I pondered it and wrote nothing. I filed it away when I got home. To salve my conscience, I thought to myself, ‘I will complete that sheet when the right moment comes’. It would have been more honest to have screwed it up and thrown it away at the end of the seminar.

Out of the 15-20 people at the seminar I knew that there was only one person who would have had the courage to commit himself to answering the questions and to actually do something about the answers, the rest of us were traditional, solid, mainstream members of the Church of Ireland. We did not deal in visions; we dealt in keeping the place going.

If we had been asked for an honest answer as to what our realistic expectations were for the following five years, we would have said that we would hope just to hold on. We wouldn’t have dared to formulate plans over such a length of time because we would almost certainly have been disappointed and we would have been open to mockery from our neighbouring clerics and from the critics within our parish – and there are always critics within the parish!

The business of the Kingdom is hampered by our lack of confidence. If Jesus was at synod next week, what would he say?

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