Opening my emails this morning I found emails from three groups looking to attract the same people from the same town on three different nights and I don't know why but it caused me to sigh rather than cheer.
I know I'm 'always going on about getting out there and doing stuff' (so a member of the congregation told me recently) but what I want is for us to get out there and do it together. One of the biggest curses of Church that I encounter is the 'personal and local' aspects and the wrong messages and wasted energy that results from it. So for what it is worth, here are a few of my thoughts on the issue:
i. Personal Salvation - I believe that Jesus, the Christ, died for 'each of us'; that is personally, knowing each of by name, rather than for 'everyone' which would have been a blanket (one act covers all) transaction.
ii. Personal Relationship with God - It was by the one atoning act of Christ on the cross that God was reconciled to the whole of creation and the way to restoration of relationship with God was made possible for us. This means that we can have a personal 1:1 relationship because (by a new and living way - Heb 10) we have access to God.
iii. Personal Faith - As a Christian my faith is neither personal or private but is corporate. We minister before the throne as a holy nation and a royal priesthood (1 Peter) - not on our own and this is how the Church is called to live out its faith - together. I find so many people who live in their exclusive little worlds - and these exist as a singularity, in closed groups, congregations and beyond - and this is wrong!
We are called to do together what we can do together as the norm and to do that which we cannot do on our own as the exception ('O dear, we will have to do this as St Sprockets rather than as a Parish/Deanery/Churches Together Group/Whatever you fancy adding' Delete as necessary).
Kingdom thinking calls us to work together and pool our resources for the good of the Kingdom - that said, a few year's back one of the local clergy complained that ALPHA Courses took place within a group of churches and yet, 'They never got any of the new people from it!' The answer was simple, 'You never bring people to it, how do you expect to get any!' And this was countered with the response that they didn't think it was their job to be 'out there looking for new people when that's what ALPHA supposed to do!'
Working together means what it says on the tin - it means we share the load (unless of course we are supporting a weaker church or fellowship in which case we share the blessing) and we try to do one thing between all the churches and Christian groups in the knowledge that the witness we present speaks of unity and commitment not just to Christ, but to the Church that bears His name too!
Why have three groups in a town when one could be larger, more dynamic and shared?