Friday, 7 June 2013

Centre of Gravity

Before I begin, an apology (if one is needed). It has been a little while since I last posted here, and for those of you who regard yourselves as loyal readers, I would like to apologise for the gap in transmission. Life in the public and private sense has been busy and in many ways complex - but things are now settling down, so back to blogging. 

Right, here goes. 

I often wonder of God doesn't leave clues to understanding life in the cosmos that God created. Want to understand the Trinity? There must be clues in the firmament if less so in the meagre constructs of our impoverished human language. I thing that same too of some of the smaller matters, like church life. I find myself wondering where the examples lay in the world into which I was created.

There seems to be two schools of thought in the world of your common or garden evangelist. You can either regard yourself as as a centripetal type of else a centrifugal type. Put another way, you are a heavenly body or else a salad-spinner. Put another way, do you "go out" to the world or does the world "come in" (put brutally, simplistically, and with no pejorative intent). It would seem to be the thing, reasonably (given the language and word "mission" itself) that we are called as Christian to "go out" and make disciples. Many do, I do in my way, but I sense that it isn't enough. 

The thing about Brits at least, is that we are cautious. We like to maintain a due sense of our control, specially in situations where we are unfamiliar or else lacking that control. We have holes drilled into our doors so that we can choose who to ignore. We have pavements on both sides of roads so that we can cross to avoid people. We have broad-aspect vision so that we can avoid eye-contact and we now have devices to block everything and everyone out if we so wish. And so be it. But where does it leave the salad-spinning types with their disciple-nets? 

Over the course of my ministry, more especially as the incumbent for whom the perspective over the entire shebang is somewhat wider, it seems that the whole idea of attraction is indeed, well, attractive. Since arriving here, I have (for the most part quite unintentionally, I have to confess) been seeking to make our little church something of the centre of gravity in the community in which we exist. I seek ways of bringing people in - not with an overt evangelistic agenda - but with a sense that if we are in the middle of what ever "it" is, then we attract people on their own terms. Being the middle (or indeed the heart to borrow my own strap line) means that we are doing something healthily Emmaus Road here.

In the last 18 months we have hosted all sorts of bizarre events. If people ask, I try my hardest to say yes. At our recent May Fair (held in May), comments were heard by several that we (the parish) also steward what the wider community are fast recognizing as the Village Green. I have, perhaps more inadvertently that I may be happy to admit, made the parish church and her grounds something of a centre-of-gravity. As a result of new and (I hope) strong relationships, events are drawing to us now. We host things more and more. More people come to us than I could ever have chased down with a net!

The idea of the church becoming the centre-of-gravity works well within the doors too. It seems that, in creating what appears to be the right environment, that rather that chasing people and their gifts and talents, that I simply enable people to make their own offer in that regard. In this parish we are so blessed by the gifts of so many people who offer what they do in some certainty that it will be appreciated and supported. Whilst it brings its own problems (as does all sorts of human activity), we find ourselves the "place to be", and indeed the "place to do". 

Part of me is surprised about this. Part of me clings to the standard-issue Christian Catching Net for fear that I might not be seen holding it. However, perhaps I shouldn't be surprised. The source of our own temporal warmth and live-giving light (God made and God given) - the Sun - draws us in and holds us just where we need to be. It seems a good thing that the Sun doesn't fly about trying to catch me - that wouldn't work well at all. 


  1. Hari Om
    You were indeed missed, sir, but no apology is req'd for surely it is understood that "live" commitments must take priority!

    It seems to me, as I read this, that you may have tapped into a deep-seated need within folk - that of true community. The village green thriving in suburbia. Once it is seen that there is more to church than just the bricks and mortar and a weekly browbeating, it becomes alive again. It becomes Love in action. And Love is the greatest attractor.

    I think perhaps, sir, that you know how to spread Love and not just The Word. There you have your true net.

  2. One of the principles that I held to when I was still young enough to 'do yoof-work' was that if the kids were familiar with the building it would become for them a friendly place in which they could expect to be made welcome, should they return in later life. What you describe is a similar idea and serves to bring that familiarity to people who might otherwise never darken your door. Churches are odd places and anything that makes them look friendly and welcoming can only be good.

  3. You are a people person, young people love you. You are fantastic at doing what you do.



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