According to the Oxford Compact English Dictionary, an experiment is ‘a course of action tentatively adopted without being sure of the outcome’. This sums up my foray today into the world of blogging. I have no idea where this exercise in reflective writing will lead. But in the words of WG Gilbert, ‘faint heart never won fair lady’. We get nowhere in life without attempting to push out the boat.
I’ve entitled my blog ‘church matters’ – a title which deliberately contains a ‘double-entendre’. In the first place, the title defines the parameters of the blog. I will be reflecting on matters that arise in the course of my life as a pastor – as distinct from, say, sharing my views on the politics of the present coalition government. In one sense this may appear to be a narrowing down – but the reality is that there is an enormous breadth to church life, for as a pastor I deal with people at
every stage from birth until the grave. In the second place, the title reflects my conviction that church does matter – church is not just an unfortunate adjunct to the Christian faith, but it is of the essence of Christian living. There have been times when, alas, I have seen church life at its worst – and yet in spite of those warts, I still believe that sharing life together with other brothers and sisters in the faith actually enriches life. For that reason one of my dreams is to encourage the church to fulfil its calling – to be the kind of church where people love one another, care for one another, pray for one another, encourage one another, and generally be ‘there’ for one another.
And yet, church must not become the be-all and end-all of life. There is life beyond the church. Goodness, I feel like pinching myself – ‘is that really true?’ There are times when church dominates my life. As a minister I am entitled to a minimum of one free day a week – and yet all too often the church impinges on that free day. For instance, people die on a Friday, and when a person is dying, then frankly I need to be there, whether it is my free day or not. Friday too is
the day when most people seem to want a funeral. They say to me, ‘We know that Friday is your day off, but it really would make it so much easier for people from afar to come to the service of thanksgiving if it is held on a Friday’, and so – before I know where I am – my free day has gone. When that happens, I feel like charging double for my services!
It is precisely because church can dominate the life of a minister ,that I find it vital to ensure that when I am free, I get away from the church. Next weekend, for instance, Caroline and I are off to Granada. For us this getting away from work is a key to surviving. There is more to life than church, thank God!