Even though I might have switched codes I still enjoy looking at the Baptist Times each week. This week there were two articles which caught my eye and made me think. The two were kind of linked. The first one was a column by Sarah Parry about Change and the second was about mission grants.
The first article discusses Ibsen’s play Ghosts and highlights the fact that change is not easy; it has consequences not only for ourselves but for others. This, she argues, is as true for churches as it is for individuals.
The second article highlights three projects aimed at connecting those outside the church with Christianity. The projects differ in nature, but are all related to people going out into their communities in a relevant way to connect.
Together, for me, they highlight how reaching the place where the types of initiative talked about in the second article occur is not a simple process.
Now, I don’t know if / how I’ll ever be involved in any of the types of things the second article talks about. I have heart for “mission” and particularly helping single parents connect with God and knowing the love he and his church has for them, and practically supporting them, but I don’t know how that will all play out in my future. I hope that I might one day I might find a way for something practical to come out of my research, but who knows. Perhaps I am too much of a dreamer and not enough of a doer….
What I do know though is that the journey I am currently on has involved change and difficult change at that. It has not involved change just for me but for others, most obviously Third Party. Change has a cost, as Parry points out in her article. Having had a bit of previous training in Economics as part of my undergrad studies I understand the concept of cost benefit analysis well. Yet, I miscalculated the costs hugely on this one and the benefits. Until change starts happening you can only guess as what the costs and benefits are going to be for you and those around you. Fortunately, at the moment, I am in a place where I can see that the costs might have been high but the overall benefits may have been even higher with my current adventure for both Third Party and myself. Yet I don’t know. One of the big problems is that when you undetake change you can only truly see the costs and benefits in retrospect. That is why change is so highly based around risk.
Effective mission, as the article shows in some ways, is also based around risk. It is involved in taking the risk of moving away from some traditional models, (although not abandoning them necessarily), and risking new initiatives. As an article by Graham Cray in the most recent edition of the Fresh Expressions news letter makes clear this may involve moving to more incarnational ways of doing things.
Risk gives fear, and change isn’t always good as the first article shows. Yet as the second one illustrates it can be good. Change isn’t for everybody and sometimes we need to let people be as they are. That’s why as Bishop Cray points out in his article that the mixed economy approach to church is important. We will only see the costs and benefits of what’s happening in the church now down the line, but I have to say reading about the things going on around the country I feel pleased about the changes which are occuring and inspired by those who have been willing to go through the pain of change and take the risks.