The Filling Station12 July 2020
Wise words from the Secretary to the Methodist Conference, Rev Dr Jonathan Hustler, quoted in this week's Church Times: "We don't exist simply in order to make more members so that we can continue to exist". But let's face it, the Church, all the Churches, through no fault of their own are caught up in the biggest shake-up since the Reformation, and the Church of the future will surely be very different from the Church you and I grew up in.
Or will it? In many ways the Church has weathered storms in the past and hung on steadfastly to its traditions and its way of being in the world. And there is something worthy about remaining true to the past, living out one's heritage and not conforming to the changing patterns of a bewildered society.
But is that what the Church is meant to be - a rock immune to the pounding waves encircling it? That image is one I grew up with - an unchanging Church with an unchanging message about an unchanging God.
Years ago, when I was working in the Black Country, a local evangelist, Dave Pope, held a series of evangelistic rallies in a disused factory. He called it The Filling Station, and it was designed as much for those in the Church as for those outside it. But the title was precisely what was needed - a shot in the arm for us comfortable church members and a challenge for those who weren't.
What does the Church mean for you? How was it for you during these many weeks without a morning or evening service to go to? What did you miss most? I guess that for most of us, it's been the lack of meeting friends. Oh, and singing hymns and hearing sermons - yes, we've missed those too.
But we don't exist simply in order to make more members so that we can continue to exist. We are those who are called together - that what ekklesia means. And we are called together to serve. Sunday worship is our weekly filling station - recharging our reserves so that we can be the caring community that we are called to be.
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