An idea that worked for our church
MINISTRY LAUNCH by Brian Goodwin, Cambridge
I don’t know … church life seemed tranquil in the bad old days.
The assembly I was brought up in came out of a mini revival. Enoch Coppin and James Claphan had erected a tent on an empty section on the corner of Wood Street and Featherstone Street in Palmerston North, preached, and a good number came to faith in the Lord. My parents and two older brothers were among the number. A small church began in Bourke Street which morphed into a church which met in the Lyndhurst Street Gospel Hall. (It was there that, as a ten-year-old boy in Sunday School, I learned the meaning of words like propitiation, justification, glorification and exaltation. Yes, really.) Life seemed simple. Church twice on Sunday and that was about all. Usually a singsong after the Gospel Meeting. Others did bits and pieces, but it all seemed simple.
But now! (Fanfare here, please…) Church life in 2011 is bustling and busy — and that’s how it ought to be. You know: reaching your neighbours, being contemporary, influencing your community, “just walking across the room”, being involved, social justice issues…
When at home we usually attend a church which is heart-and-soul involved in reaching its community and worshipping our Lord. I refer to the Raleigh Street Christian Centre (RSCC) in Cambridge. God’s hand is upon it. And it’s big. It’s bright. It’s shiny. But how does a recent returnee (moi) catch up on everything that’s going on? How can any of us? After all, even apart from the regular, to-be-expected church activities, it runs 35 disparate ministries.
Well, one way to let people know what’s going on in a busy church is to run a Ministry Launch Sunday — like RSCC did recently. The church met, as it usually does, at 10 o’clock. Sang. Prayed. Celebrated the Lord’s Supper. Then we all scattered to various parts of the chapel complex to see the stalls set up by the various ministries. Twenty-seven of them had undertaken to set up a stall to inform and challenge, which they did successfully.
- “I see. So Iconz is a ministry to boys. What, a Bible devotion every time!”
- “So, that’s a slash and stack!”
- “What, you men get together at 6:30 in the morning? Every week!”
- “Dojo Youth. What on earth is that?”
- “Is Mainly Music mainly music?”
- “ ‘Street works?’ Is that a department of the town council?”
- “Women of Worship. So that’s what WOW means.”
After ten minutes a bell rang and the shepherd (in real-life a teacher, Luke) rang a bell, rounded up his sheep (us), and we all went back into the chapel. (“If you don’t come back, I guess it means you don’t really like this church,” he had told us before we scattered to look at the exhibits. So we all came back.) And then the youth pastor, Jeremy, spoke. “You don’t come to church,” he declaimed. “You are the church!”
The service had taken 90 minutes, the usual time for Sunday morning. Even though we couldn’t stop at every stall, visually we were impacted; it’s a busy, inspirational church. (Wasn’t it the Spanish mystic Unamuno who said, “May God deny you peace and grant you glory”?)
No, I don’t want to go back to the old days. I like living in 2011. And I enjoy the vibrancy of an assembly dedicated to sharing Christ by both word and works. And after last Sunday I am better informed about our local church. I think everybody is.