I am burning the midnight oil, as I write this letter, having procrastinated and been preoccupied with seemingly more pressing matters.
I have become increasingly aware of the amount of time that so many other people are giving to Church life. While we may tend to see the same people out the front on a Sunday, or taking a lead in our midweek activities, much Church work is done quietly out of the limelight. Most of it is done during the week, in preparation for Sunday, or long after the main service is over. So often there are deadlines to meet. St Andrew’s people are extremely generous with their time, as well as with their skills and with giving money. Thank you to everyone who is part of a team, or serves on a rota – tending the noticeboards, counting the collection, keeping the kitchen in good condition. And thank you to those who hold offices in the Church such as Local Preacher, or a Treasurer or one of the various Stewards. I am not even beginning to count those who live out their Christian calling outside the Church, as school governors and serving in charity shops or similar voluntary positions. I cannot count many people who have served the Church well – inside and out – when they were somewhat younger, and are now forced by age or infirmity to take a quieter role. And who is there, besides God, who can count the prayers that people offer for St Andrew’s day by day?
Currently we are blessed to be in the position where most people in the Church are heavily committed. While the congregations may be smaller, a very high proportion of those people serve the Church very actively. As we come to that season in the year when we can appoint Church Stewards, and members of Church Council, it may be appropriate to ask whether there are any people who, far from being overworked, feel as though their gifts and abilities are not being fully used. I am not asking for wholesale resignations! I am asking you whether there is a role within the Church that you would consider taking on, if only you were not preoccupied with the job that you are doing. What is God calling you to do next? How might we arrange our Church life, to encourage more people to grow, through their Christian service?
Over the summer The Development Group is consulting people in the community, and in the various parts of our Church life, about what the priorities should be for our mission and ministry. As the politicians say, “there is no hidden agenda”. What we need to do is to hear from lots of different people, their vision for where our Church should be headed in the next three years. This consultation will be brought together, to the Church (on Sunday 10th September) and the Church Council in the Autumn.
“Christ has many services to be done:….Yet the power to do all these things is given to us in Christ who strengthens us.” (The Methodist Covenant Service.)