Fear of The New
Wednesday, April 8, 2009 12:13:41 PM
But we love to cling to the old ways that are so familiar... the safe ways, the ways we know.
It's like when you first get your satellite navigation system and find that it wants you to go a different way to the one you always take.
Do you trust the new-fangled gadget against the years of wisdom you've accumulated. Do you boldly go where no man has gone before (well where you have not gone before)? Or do you keep to the tried and tested route?
If somebody suggests something new in church, do you embrace the sense of adventure or flee from the fear of the unknown?
I came across this interesting experiment this afternoon, and frankly it excited me. Wow! Imagine doing a "flash mob" as a form of worship/ prayer. Imagine a bunch of normal people suddenly emerging from a normal crowd, separating themselves out and walking to a nearby park to pray together. Hardly scary stuff, I would have thought. Any way here's the video of one such event in Liverpool, England.
So I thought we could pull that off in Narrabri with a smaller crowd and in the main street. I put up the video and created an event in facebook and sent an email to the other ministers.
The responses from my colleagues were, well unexpected but rather predictable.
One church said "weird but lots of fun- but we will all be away for the weekend", which is OK I guess- that church does seem to have lots of long weekends. At least they were open to the idea.
Another church seemed worried about the possibility of smelly feet... a common enough fear in that part of the woods and seems to come up in connection with foot washing services and enactments of the life of Moses. They did mention that they felt that it might be seen as weird for a conservative town, when christians are already considered weird.
Another response was that praying is good but loving people is better- which I thought was a little odd, because I was thinking half an hour out of a day might still give you lots of time to love on people. That was a Pentecostal pastor and also afraid of being seen to be weird- which, when you think about it is well, weird.
So it looks like a really cool idea won't go forward here just yet- and that's all right because not every good idea is a God idea, and not every God idea is right for now.
So I seem to be the bold adventurous, "out there" guy who is the pastoral equivalent of a bungee jumper- ironic considering I'm normally so conservative and I hate heights.
My point is this- we need to find different ways of engaging the community. We have to stop relying on our old tried and true methods because, frankly they aren't working.
The problem is not that people think christians are weird not in the way they think Hare Krishnas are weird for example. The problem is that they think we are weird in altogether boring kinds of ways.
We need to become less boring, less predictable, less safe... more like the Old Testament prophets or, dare I suggest it, more like Jesus.