What a day! One of those slightly challenging, just a tad depressing, and more than a little interesting days you hope other people get!
When I first started out I had this naive view that said, "If you build it they will come and the. They will get stuck in and do it with you." I later realised that this needed to be modified to: "They will watch and suggest other things you could do too!" I had mistakenly assumed excitement and challenge were all we needed but, as a colleague at the time told me, "You cNt lead them, you have to get behind and drive them, like a sheltered!"
Well I noticed that the shepherds I'd seen in Israel seemed to walk on and the sheep followed him. Surely this should be the case. 'The sheep know my voice' and all that sort of thing. Recently I've been 'blessed' by the number of well-meaning people who are worried about how much I do. Many of them tell me to do less but that on a parallel with telling the chap who used to row you across the Thames near to where I grew up that he needed to do less and so should only row halfway each time. It gets nobody no where; well not unless someone is willing to row the rest of the way that is.
Ssitting in a boat (figuratively speaking) stuck in the middle of the stream with no one rowing is not the time to berate people for their inactivity. Neither is it a time to reach for a sketch pad and begin to lay out some strategic planning for when the vessel finds terra firma or launch into a tirade about those who could have rowed had they bothered to get onboard. But this is the place so many churches and their congregations find themselves.
"I might just as well tell them to vote labour," said a colleague in a twee and trendy posh place as they spoke of the congregations response to evangelism. Oddly, another in a posh university tow was saying something similar about his university town and his cap and gowned intellectuals (but this time the party was Comservative) on the same issue.
During my apprenticeship I found myself turning components on a lathe. It was a precise job and took concentration and a bit of skill, which is why we apprentices had to do it. One day, having made a few I went to the metal store and found we had no stock left. Bill Stroud, the bloke teaching me, asked me how much there had been before I started. Of course I hadn't checked!
"How were you expecting to finish without having enough stock?" He asked. "Unless you make sure you have enough in, or order to be in when you need it, you'll be no use to anyone, will you?" He continued. I muttered a few things and looked at my feet. "Right he said, " leading me to another store with the metal I needed - lesson learned?"
It was, and later Bill taught me to turn down locomotive wheels and make steam engines and more besides. But the 'how much have you got - what do you need to get the job done - if not get it' rule never left me; and that's why I realise that we haven't got enough to do the job now!
Given half a dozen committed and on fire people I could do loads of stuff, but it takes all the people we can get to carry the church and make sure we have enough to get the job done.
Lord, help me to motivate and mobilise the Church in the right way to take up their own cross and follow You.
Help them to understand what this Jesus thing is all about and to share it because the excitement of it bubbles up out of them rather than merely give them a job.
Help me when those around me do little and yet see that little as something so very big. Give all of us perspective and let that be the case in the shadow of the cross to nail it home.
Lord, give me the stock to get the job done.