I am puzzled by several things at the moment as we navigate the path of mission and church and try to keep life simple. Here’s one for you to chew on…
It seems that life in Oz society is already quite complex and being part of a church only complicates it further…
Here’s what I see as well as some relfections on my own situation. If you are part of a church we would hope that you would:
1. Have an active relationship with God that you are nurturing – spending some kind of regular time with him and getting to know him whatever shape that takes. I have been trying to use the ‘Bible in a year’ stuff, but its just too hard to feel connected with it. I much prefer Sacred Space and so will probably revert to that. As much as I am able I try to escape the kids from 7.30 on for an hour or so and get some God time. Its hard… and I probably have it easier than many of you.
2. Be spending good slabs of time with your wife and kids. These primary relationships really need the best of our time. For the 8.00-5.00 worker this time is very much limited to after work and weekends. This is one of the things I really love about flexible working hours and having a home office. I see a lot of my family and I think we are richer for it.
3. Be well connected with your wider family – parents, brothers, sister, in laws etc. That’s not too hard for me with just a brother and mum and dad here in Oz, but Danelle has 5 bros and sis’ along with a humungous number of nieces, nephews etc. We could spend the rest of our life just hanging out with them! At times this gets stressful, but at the moment most of them live up bush and its not so tricky to manage. For while when all were in the city, it seemed that every weekend was another birthday, anniversary, etc etc
4. Have a few close friends who you connect with regularly and deeply and share life with. Now its gets more selective… There is a level of connection with family that is at times dutiful. However I reckon these people are the ones who are ‘soul mate’ types, the ones who would do your funeral… People who have travelled the journey of life with you for a long time and who you feel that heart connection with. I probably only have two or three people in my life who belong here at the moment, and its probably all I can handle. I doubt any of us can sustain many relationships of this kind.
5. Be connected with your church community. For most people that means being in a small group. For us our church is a small group 🙂 We want to be well connected with each other, which is tricky when you look at all that is already happening in life. At times we have spoken about how we don’t catch up with each other enough, but not only do we have these relationships… we also have
6. The people in our local community – the folks we live amongst, our neighbours who are becoming our friends. We came here to get to know them and to grow some genuine friendships. The problem is that the relational grid is already pretty packed! What gives?…
7. Then there are work colleagues, ministry acquaintences, sporting friends, old friends you don’t often see, local networks…
Is anybody tired just reading that list?!
I honestly wonder how we do it. How do we live like that? How do we keep so many plates spinning?
I know I have all those ‘categories’ in my life and the last two are huge. Perhaps another question is how do we prioritise where our time goes?
I know we have made a decision that as a missionary family we will prioritise spare time to be with our neighbours and that means trading off some time in other places. It means we don’t spend as much time with our team as we would like at times. It means we see less of our families at times. Its always a balancing act.
Its not just that we want you to have all these relationships functioning and healthy.
We also want you to come to church, serve in the church, be in a small group and be involved in your neighbourhood.
Are you kidding?!!!
Is this really how we live but just don’t realise it?
Tonight at our leadership team meeting I was asking the question ‘what can we legitimately expect of the full time worker in a local church, especially given the above expectations which are pretty much part of life?’
Can we ask them to sit on this team and that committee and be out 4 or 5 nights a week? Being out three nights a week feels like all I can manage at the moment.
Phew… I’m done… Its 12.15 and well past bed time.
Hope that made some sense