Friday, February 29, 2008

How to do stuff - 782

Apologies for lack of interesting posting this week. I've been occupied. Not busy, for busy suggests rush, haste, stress and panic; simply a lot of appointments. For the most part the appointments were positive experiences.

One day of meetings at Diocesan headquarters verged on the edge of dullness but here I record my, by now getting on for lifelong, gratitude to a former secretary of the Diocese of Durham who introduced me to the idea of taking to meetings some other problem you wanted to solve which you could dip into when the meeting didn't concern you. I am grateful for two reasons. Firstly because the problem he took with him that day was my personal finances, which he fixed; secondly because, ever since, I have copied his habit and start any meeting by drawing a line down the edge of a piece of A4 and allocating the new margin to the problem I need to solve.

One presentation I listened to was about how to do church in a rural village setting. It consisted largely of a rant about how difficult it was to do church in such a context. Although I applaud the chutzpah of someone who leads a training session on a subject by saying, 'This is impossible,' it did get me thinking about what resources a country parson might have that equipped him or her to do stuff.

Our presenter suggested he was going to take some time out in the near future to assess what he wanted to achieve in the future. I dared to suggest (because I know nothing about rural ministry) that a second list might be helpful headed, 'What resources have I got?'

In Exodus 3 and 4 God interviews Moses for a job. One of God's questions, in response to Moses, not unintelligent, 'What if people won't listen to me?' hesitation, is to ask Moses, 'What is that in your hand?'

'A stick' says Moses.

God then turns the stick into a snake (don't try this at home children you'll look stupid).

If you have resources that God can use in your ministry or mission then make sure you make them available to him.

A good Bible study on Exodus 3 and 4 is to list Moses five great questions and God's five great answers.

By the way new readers, don't look for 'How to do stuff 1 - 781.' The numbering system doesn't follow that pattern. It simply indicates that I've posted on this before and will do so again but have no intention of checking how many times.


Caroline Too said...

something you wrote in your post got me thinking at a tangent...

do you think that one problem we have in the countryside is that we've taken a structure that works for the city (parishes) and translated it into a context where it doesn't fit so well?

Might not a monastic structure (one that sends people out rather than an enclosed order) this seems to have been the structure that worked for Aiden in Northumbria...

sorry, I know this doesn't relate directly to the main point of your post but...

dmk said...

Speaking from a town, it feels more like we've taken a structure which works for villages and tried to make it work in urban areas. Many village churches attract 5-10% of the local population, in cities and towns it's more like 1%

The current problem in rural areas is the lack of vicars in a parish system that has got used to working with a dog collar as a figurehead. In cities, there is still something like 1 vicar per church (though here in Yeovil 3 out of the 4 parishes have 2 churches in them). My sense is that the issue is more about empowering local lay leadership, rather than having a 'cork in the bottle' system where everything depends on the clergy.

St said...

I recall Stephen Cottrell, before he became a bishop, saying, The problem in this country is that there are too many chruches; the gospel paradox is that the answer is to plant more.' Will post a little more on this.