A few months back I reflected that I was going to change tack in how I introduce myself to people and when asked what I do for a crust I would be a ‘retic bloke’ rather than a baptist minister. I’m happy for people to know I’m a minister, but I just thought it would be interesting to experiment with a different starting point.
So today I am out surfing again and there’s one other bloke in the water – also mid 40’s and a local. We get chatting. He works at the golf course. We talk about life, family, kids, work, travel and the general banter that blokes have – broken occasionally by one of us catching a wave. He tells me that he wants to get his kids into the surf club this year and there’s a point of common interest because we have been considering similar.
‘When’s it on?’ I ask.
‘Sundays – in the morning’
‘Yeah I thought so. We’d like to send the kids but we are part of a church community that meets at the same time so it gets tricky’
‘Yeah me too’ he says.
I wasn’t sure if I’d heard him right. ‘You’re part of a church too hey?’
‘Which one?’ I ask.
‘The Christadelphians’ he says, ‘ But we meet a long way away so church is a 100km round trip.’
I chuckle inwardly because I’m guessing neither of us picked the other for a God botherer. He went on to tell me they had been looking for a church locally but hadn’t found one that was down to earth and not too ‘happy clappy’ (his words).
In the flow of the conversation I let him know that I was a pastor and led a local Baptist church. At that point he obviously felt compelled to let me know that he wasn’t a very good Christian because he swore and drank too much. I’m guessing he was thinking back over the conversation we’d had and the ‘f’ words that had been sprinkled throughout and the references to ‘time wasted not drinking beer’. I told him I didn’t think Jesus cared too much about a few naughty words and had bigger fish to fry.
I don’t often invite people to church, but today I did. I’m not sure if he is a dyed in the wool ‘Christadelphian’ (whatever they are these days) or whether he’s just a bloke trying to find God and raise his family in the way of Christ. But I figured he’d like our mob and he’d fit in well.
I invited him home for a coffee or beer, but he had to head off and pick his kid up from school. We’ve been praying for some local mates both for ourselves and for our kids so who knows. Maybe this was a significant encounter, or maybe its just another slice of life…
I’m hoping we might see each other again.