Christian culture, summer grumpiness and the joy of decent people.

Today God gave me a loving, but firm kick up the backside.

For a while now, at this time of year, I have got a proper grump on.

I see lots of people on Facebook, Twitter etc going off to various Christian conferences – new wine, the 24-7 stuff, greenbelt, you name it… it all looks so lovely, but we can’t afford any of it. And at the end of September we will have even less as our first child arrives.

Gone are the days when as a youth group member my church paid for me to go on CPAS holidays or as a young adult I did new wine as a volunteer, because I could as a young free and single person.

Now we are not poor. We can afford Netflix and the TV licence. We also have a once a month date night budget. 

On top of all that I’m a youth pastor and my lovely church pays for my husband and I to go to the aog conference.

So really I have no room to moan. 

All the same, I know a lot of people with less money than us who live hand to mouth, and lots of people who like us can’t afford to go away for any sort of holiday, conferences included. 

It makes me cross that access to all this beautiful, amazing teaching, worship, general God stuff is only for the wealthy or those who belong to big enough churches they can afford to pay for their skint members.

So it was in a fit of grumpiness I responded to Krish Kandiah’s post about Books for life LIVE.

That’ll teach me… he, and others responded with such humble generosity. Take a look:

It’s left me both humbled and blessed… and wondering what solutions there could be for all those skint believers out there. 
At the.end of the day, speakers, preachers and authors also need to eat. But surely technology could bring stuff local? I know you can get lots talks on video, and that at big conferences stuff is streamed live from one venue to a second… maybe it could be streamed to local churches… I don’t know. There just has to be a way of being more inclusive.

Which brings me back to the book conference. Turns out if I had stopped and looked I would have known I couldn’t go anyway, it’s 13 days after baby’s due date.

But I do have a plan. You may have seen little free library on Facebook… I wonder if our church could have a Christian little free library? I mean, how cool would that be. I’m going to ask…

And I resolve to have more action and less grumpiness.

#Church, #NadiaBolz-Weber and true #community

I have just listened to Nadia Bolz-Weber on the world service, you can hear her here:

http://bbc.in/1JZOpst

Now it is very easy to get caught up in the so called radical elements of her church, ie their understanding of LGTB people, but that is not what I want to talk about here, important though it is.

Instead I want to mention the beautiful things she has to say about community and real church.
One small enough to know people’s stories, one led by the people and set up in such a way that Jesus is at the Centre, not leaders or music or other things that hamstring churches.

image

Of course this isn’t heaven, I’m sure the church had its fair share of problems. But listening to Nadia’s theology and ideas for how church should be, I find I have come home. It makes me want to learn more from her and her church and to find ways to replicate it in my small corner of England.

How lovely it is to find someone who inspires you to show more of the love of Jesus where you live.

#church, the people not the building

Its old hat I know, but still true, that the church is its people, not the building we meet in.

So how come so much time is spent acting like that isn’t so? We spend lots of time doing and less time being with each other.

I read this article on pastoral care today and it reminded me that no one ever came to Jesus because of a program. Instead it was the personality of Jesus that drew true discipleship.

Paul says that God is using us as ambassadors,  as though God were making his appeal through us (2Corinthians 5:20). Note, us, not our buildings or our doughnuts or our super-duper worship/speaking/toddler group.

Paul goes further. He said he became nothing so that people wouldn’t get tangled up in the programme and miss the personality of Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

And yet all around me I see the church both traditional and modern getting tangled up in… Stuff.

You know, we could meet in a porta-cabin with a battered old CD player and a packet of rich tea biscuits, as long as we had love. That is, after all how Jesus said people would know we were his disciples  (John 13:34-35).
image
Photo via http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/3/28/1301326990499/Rich-Tea-biscuits-007.jpg

I find the lack of love I sometimes see particularly painful when it comes to young people. We are called by Jesus to love our neighbour as ourselves, and yet again and again I see adults putting what they want at gatherings of Christians before what young people might want or need.

And that’s Christian young people, never mind non Christian folk.

So my prayer for myself and others is that we might truly see and hear the people around us and love them more than our (church) stuff.