Monday, 8 September 2008

Crunch for Causeway?

I'm feeling really strange today.  

Last night Causeway was on.  It was the first one at the church since July because of the summer holiday's.  During the summer we have had quiz nights at the pub and organised a night of live music at he pub.  Last night however was the first Causeway for a couple of months at the church where we discussed beauty and self-image and looked at our own perception of ourselves and then discussed how God sees us.  It was a really good evening and I believe so many of those who were there got a lot out of the evening and began to see themselves differently.  I believe they began to love themselves and understand that God has made them the way they are for a reason. I am so grateful that this took place last night and that people met with God. The thing I am unsure about though is whether Causeway fulfilled its purpose last night.

Causeway was created to share the gospel in real and relevant ways to the community around us.  This is mainly to 18-30 year olds, but is for anyone who wants to come along.  We try to use relevant and contemporary ways to do this (film, drama, discussion groups) and look to make anyone and everyone feel welcome and loved.  

A massive part of Causeway's ethos is the desire to build really good relationships with people. Not superficial and fake relationships, but real friendships that last.  Friendships that mean people can be themselves and speak honestly and openly about who they are.  A crucial part of this is to build relationships within the community of Mersea.  We're conscious not to become a little church bubble, but to be a visible and real part of Mersea who have good relationships with our community.  It was this desire that got us to go into the Victory Pub and be down there.  Last night though I felt Causeway had reached a crucial point in its journey.  I looked around at those who were there and realised that it was purely (except 1 person) a group of Christians.  So the evening had a very 'Christian' feel to it.  It was after the night had finished that I questioned whether last night we had done what Causeway is called to do.  

I don't think we did.

I wonder if new church ventures like Causeway always reach this sort of point?  If you have experience of church planting and evangelism, would you get in touch with me and let me know your experiences please?  I could do with some wisdom.

Are there moments when a fresh and lively venture that sees people coming to faith in Christ on a regular basis suddenly hit a point when they are in danger of going from 'mission' to 'maintenance'?    Then in 50 years time its the same congregation meeting each week doing the same thing they did 50 years ago occasionally seeing a new face.  They still believe they are 'cutting edge'.   Is it at these points of time that Causeway is at where you have to be brave and bold and seek to change and try new things?  Is it here that you go after the 1 who has strayed from home and leave the 99 behind?  

The question that I then wrestle with is 'what makes 'church' church?'  If Causeway go down the pub, have a quiz night and don't talk to anyone about Jesus, is that church?  Do we have seriously evaluate how we 'do' church?  Have we forgotten that we are meant to 'be' church? How do we 'be' church? 

Please get back to me if you have any thoughts.

I will blog again soon about my thoughts on how church may look in the future.

1 comment:

nakedpastor said...

Well, in my opinion this is what always happens to organisms... they will turn into organizations. That's why the reformers said the church is always reformed and always reforming. It can't stop. I think it takes radical courage and sacrifice to prevent the organism from stagnating into, as you say, a maintenance ministry. I also think this is why it takes extraordinary people to commit to the church and continually push its boundaries.