The water we swim in

There’s a story of two fish in a bowl and one says to the other, ‘How are you finding the water?’ and the other answers, ‘What is water?’
We can be so immersed in our society, our culture, that we don’t see it. We are blind to the effects of it, its influence on us, and we just assume this is what life is.
Christians need to be able to step outside our society and culture. This world is not our home and it’s a dangerous occupation to get so used to the ‘water’ that we are blind to its influences. The Bible encourages us to set our eyes on things above – it’s a counter-cultural mindset that should shape all we do. Including church.
What we do on Sundays can be very much the water we swim in (a Christian culture) that we don’t see or think about it. But today I’m asking you to reflect on that water, ‘How are you finding the water?’ Is what we do on Sundays feeding your soul? How might we improve what we do? And how might we ensure that the church environment is optimal for as many people as possible?
I share in the talk today how God has laid on my heart this question and I’m asking all of us to consider what kind of church we want to be and what ought to be our priorities in coming days. Our vision statement sets the direction in that we are committed to ‘Worshipping God, Growing in Christ and Sharing the love of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, looking to the Lord’s return’. But that can take many shapes and forms, particularly in regard to our Sunday gathering.
So, if what we do is in the power of the Holy Spirit, we need to look to him for guidance, wisdom and direction. The idea I’m proposing today is just one option of many. There are multitudes of ways to declare the good news of Jesus to our community, and from time to time it’s good to ask, is what we do the best we can do?

I want to encourage you to prayerfully reflect on how we are reaching our community and ask that God might lead us to what he wants us to do.
We can just keep doing what we’ve been doing. It’s a good model, and we have seen some wonderful blessing from God through it. But I’ve been caused to ask questions, because I see so many in our community we are not reaching, and I wonder if we would ever get them into the style of church we currently run, both in its appearance and in its Sunday program.
Einstein once said only a crazy person would keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome. So, I’m thinking if we choose not to change, we are saying we are not the ones to reach those who are uncomfortable with our current style of church. That may be the proper decision for us to make, but I also see that Paul sought to be all things to all people so that he might save some (1 Corinthians 9:22). So, at the very least, it’s good to ask the question – what does God want us to do in reaching our community?
In Acts 13:2 we read: “While they were worshipping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’” That move of the Spirit began the great missionary work of the apostle Paul and generations have been blessed through it. I’m keen that we always seek God’s guidance in our mission to our community, so please pray that we might think carefully about the water in which we swim and how we can bring the people of our community under the sound of God’s great love.
Please read the document ‘Reaching our Community’, available in the foyer. Come to the prayer meeting on Tuesday if you can. As a church, let us take some time out to consider the water we swim in and let us seek the guidance of God’s Spirit in all we do.

Ray Robinson

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