Some days I feel utterly overwhelmed by what I don’t know. I don’t know how to plant a church. I don’t know how to run a Bible study. I don’t know how to include children in worship, and I don’t know how to disciple teenagers. I don’t know how to grow a congregation, or increase attendance, or begin a service while people are chatting or slowly drifting in the door. I don’t know how to free us all from cultural captivity. I don’t know how to truly serve the LGBTIQA+ community or other marginalised groups, or how to galvanize other Christians around climate change. I don’t know how to develop a five-year-plan nor write a sermon, and every week I walk the cliff edge of terror as I try to work the latter out. And as for truly loving and forgiving people: well, the older I get, the less sure I am of this as I become more aware of my frailty, sinfulness and hardness of heart.
In a world which values triumph, power, competence and success, I feel like a failure. Yet as I looked around at our precious gathering on Sunday, with all these fears buzzing around my head, I suddenly remembered that I don’t need to know. If I knew how to do all these things, there’d be no room for God, and there’d be no room for other people. It is only in weakness that God can work through us; and it is only when God works through us as a group that the church will blossom and grow.
God doesn’t need our five year plans or for us to be in control. Instead, God simply needs you and me to keep turning up; to keep worshipping, praying and wrestling with Scripture together; to keep sharing our fears and failures, and loving and forgiving one another through them; and to keep reaching out to those God calls us to serve. This is what it means to be God’s people, in this or any church.
I don’t know what our future holds. I don’t know what Sanctuary will look like next month, or next year. I still don’t know how to disciple our teenagers or increase attendance or start a service on time. But I do know this: That we are the body of Christ, and this body is always wounded and scarred. That the Risen Christ appears at the point of our pain and confusion, and he is with us on this journey. That if, together, we follow him and attend to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, then we will certainly grow in faith, hope and love. And that God will take care of the rest.
Emailed to Sanctuary 16 August 2019 © Sanctuary, 2019. Image credit: Olivia Snow on Unsplash. And yes, I’ve been watching Rev.
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