Every now and again, no more frequently than that, God makes little things happen that make ministry sustainable. He sends encouragements that take me out of my despondency and stop me from wallowing in self pity! I thought it’d be a good thing to mention them when they happen. And so I’m hoping that this becomes a regular feature.
Passing over the fact that I’ve started quoting myself in blog posts and instead continuing the theme of small things that God sends my way with unerring regularity, I thought I’d tell you about Christianity Explored. We’re only two weeks in and so we’re only just getting going. But there’s already a relaxed vibe, genuine engagement with the issues and a developing relational warmth. Is it any surprise that Tuesday nights are fast becoming my favourite night of the week! It’s not a large course (though it’s the largest we’ve had for a while). We were eleven last time, which is a good number for us. And we’re holding it for the first time in our new church centre, which is exciting. We feel almost professional with our own round tables, flat screen TV, kitchen area and contemporary conference room feel!
Having it at Falcon Mews means that I haven’t had to host it whilst trying to get the kids to bed, waiting for Rosslyn to get back from work. And I don’t have to ‘impose’ on anyone else who can host it instead of us. We start with a delicious meal cooked by someone in the congregation. After about 40 minutes we’ll deal with any questions arising from the previous week’s ‘homework’. Last time someone wanted help understanding Jesus’ response to the question about fasting in chapter two. We then looked at the designated Bible passage, which was Mark’s account of Jesus calming of the storm (though not the disciples’ anxiety) in Mark 4:35-41. We answered the set questions but also had a good discussion concerning the contemporary application to us. It felt inadequate to suggest that this passage was simply teaching that Jesus is powerful enough to rule over creation. There’s so much more to it than that. We had to think about what that actually means if we follow him. And so we talked about Jesus’ view that if we have him in our lives (like the disciples had him in the boat) then no matter what creation throws at us (as it threw the fearsome storm at them) we can face reality without fear when we put our faith in Christ. You can’t pass over that (even if the course book doesn’t mention it). We watched the DVD of Rico’s talk (the recently re-packaged one with him in a flattering dark suit!). This works well for us because it allows people to interact with whatever Rico has said without risk of feeling that they might offend him. It’s also less work for me! The discussion rarely stays on the suggested topics and, within reason, we don’t mind that. As usual I say far too much in response to any question, which is why I’ve put two less talkative people in charge of the table groups. But I get up at the end and respond to anything the groups feel has been inadequately dealt with. We wash up and people linger, chatting before heading home to allow their thoughts to drift to what they’ve learnt as they close their eyes in sleep.
It’s an extra evening in the already busy schedule but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It’s just so encouraging to see people who wouldn’t describe themselves as Christians willing to engage with the gospel. They’re willing to listen because they have open minds. And they want to close them on something substantial. And Christianity Explored provides them with something of substance to chew on; namely the great news concerning Jesus Christ (Mark 1:1).