I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to clone myself. Leaving the ethical issues to one side for a moment (which, for the record, is not something that you should encourage church leaders to do) I’ve realised that the world needs more people like me. And the church even more so. This won’t surprise some of you who‘ve long harboured the suspicion that I think too highly of myself. But this isn’t arrogance. Not this time. It’s compassion. I’m concerned that I can’t provide for all the people in our church family. And that does my head in, because I actually care. It really bothers me that people’s lives are not what they’d want them to be and they’re not what they ought to be. But as I said to our church family recently, ‘there are simply too many of you and there’s only one of me’ (which is not to suggest that I don’t have my own issues!!!)
I’ve had to accept that that it’s a good thing that there’s only one of me. It’s not been easy! Of course, I’m aware that I don’t ‘do it’ for everyone even in our church. And as hard as it is for me to accept, I’m not what everyone needs. But everyone needs someone. And the New Testament is chock-full of references to Christians ministering to one another. Therefore, since cloning didn’t look like a realistic or indeed a helpful solution, we were convinced at CCB that we had to find an alternative way of multiplying the numbers of word ministers so that everyone could be cared for. It was this conviction that fuelled our desire and the decision to make ‘one to one Bible reading’ the subject of our recent Autumn Bible School. We wanted to persuade people that it’s beneficial, possible and wonderful. And anyone who heard one of our young women on the subject wouldn’t have needed much more convincing. Her testimony of the benefits to her own life from being cared for by another Christian woman and the benefits to another younger Christian women with whom she met to study the Bible was enough to dispel many a doubt about the value of meeting up ‘one to one’.
We need to multiply our ministers at CCB so there’s more ministry going on. And when I say ‘ministry’ I’m not talking about all the stuff that the staff team do. I’m using it as a summary for the kind of normal activity of one Christian helping another to live their life for Christ in the light of the gospel. I imagine we’re not that different to lots of other urban churches. There’s so much to be done amongst those of us who struggle to live for Christ amidst the temptations of a secular lifestyle. There are people who need support and help because they’re in the midst of personal suffering. There are people who need gentle loving correction from someone they’ve come to trust because they’re struggling with sin. And there are those who need training because with a bit of knowledge and opportunity they have so much to contribute to our church family. And God has given us in the Bible everything we need to equip one another to live for Him (2 Timothy 3:15-17). So what we need is a whole bunch load of people at CCB who get together with someone else at some point in the week to look at something in the Bible. There’s a little bit more to it than that, as we explained over the three weeks of Autumn Bible School, but in essence that’s all it takes. Apart from my understandable joy at seeing my colleagues, the best thing that happened in the church office this morning was hearing about a woman in our congregation taking the initiative to approach someone else and read the Bible together so that she might grow in the faith. I just wasn’t expecting it. And it’s terrific.
I’d love for our sessions on ‘one to one’ Bible reading to be the beginning of a process and not simply an event. If it was something that we ‘did’ and it’s not something that we’re ‘doing’, it failed. Alternatively if it’s something that we’re doing then lots of us are being helped to grow in our knowledge and love for the Lord. And as our children’s worker (the preserver of the youthspeak on the staff team) would say, ‘#winner’.