Having this very morning opened an email asking me what I thought was needed to help their church grow I have found myself thinking seriously about how I can respond and, as I do so, I find it to be a thing of many parts. But the most important of these (for me anyway) is:
BE A DISCIPLE - NOT A MEMBER
Being a disciple means that I want to learn how to look like, act like, think like, live like, love like Jesus.
When I was an apprentice I followed people around, made tea, handed tools to whoever I was working with, washed the cups, made tea, got shouted at (a lot) and learnt my craft. As I passed through each of the training areas I followed the fitter, technician, P Way man and learnt what they did and copied them. Where they went - I went!
I found myself talking like them and becoming a composite of them all in terms of expression and thinking (technically anyway - never managed to quite master the attitudes many had over race, gender, politics and the like).
I became a product of the whole and learnt that for us to succeed (which meant do the job well and not be caught when we weren't) I had to be a part if the whole: There was just 'us' and that's who we worked for -Each Other! When a problem appeared we got stuck in and supported one another - we were a team.
Nothing has changed now I'm in the Church. I find myself sounding, acting and (I hope) thinking like the man I'm apprenticed to (in case you haven't guessed, this is Jesus) and I assume that this is the same for others too.
This is where I get disappointed because my assumptions are all too often wrong and rather than follow and look and learn and do and be, I find people who (like some of those I once worked with) are under the impression that 'being there' is enough. These are the people who clock in and out of church and work environments with the belief that attending is enough and, just like in the world of work, they are saddened as they see others pass them by.
We can change the world if we are disciples.
And as we change to look, sound and feel like the person from whom we learn we will change others too.
Where I am we have recently offered the SHAPE Course and are in the process of other training and exploration opportunities and whilst I know some will be content to merely turn up (and that's fine if that's who, where and what they are and that's the stage they're at - God is patient and kind) I know others will be keen to become disciples and, in turn disciple others, to look, act, speak, think, do and live like the Master craftsman we follow building nit in wood but in stone - living stones that are and is the Church.
So: Point the First - BE (and make) disciples