One of the things I consciously try to do is to stay up to date with the ‘news’. While I was growing up, my television watching was quite heavily moderated – way before it was popular to have screen time limits. However, I can remember the ABC news being on in the evening and as I got older, while still being discouraged to watch certain types of shows, it was always acceptable for me to watch news and current affairs shows on commercial television, as long as Dad was home. He always had the strong view that it was only on the ABC that you would find ‘proper news’. When Mum and Dad come to visit us, I still find them changing our TVs to the ABC…
I’ve always thought that, as a church leader, it is important to be aware of what is going on in the world. One of the first things I did after being ordained was to get a subscription to the local newspaper, and I have continued to do this on the Gold Coast. I only recently switched to a digital subscription rather than the ‘old fashioned’ newspaper which leaves that blackish smudge on your fingers after reading it. To be honest I do miss reading the paper, but I still try to stay abreast of the news, not just through the digital subscription, but also through other news websites, listening to the radio and watching TV in the morning and the evening. Every morning Leanne and I try to watch the news together before we get about our day. It’s on Channel 7’s Sunrise program not the ABC.
I’m not sure if it has always been the case or just something that I have become more aware of as I’ve got older, and perhaps more discerning, but it seems to be much more common these days to report on opinion, something that, in my opinion, not even that National broadcaster is immune to. (Did you see what I did there?) There is that old saying that history is always in the hands of the writer…
Because churches are groups of people who all have opinions, it should be no surprise that you will find opinions about most things being discussed throughout church life. In many ways it is healthy and helpful to share and explore and understand each other’s opinions in a church context, and to have them sit alongside the word of God so they can be moderated, matured and transformed. However, in recent time the opinions of the church have leaked into the mainstream news on a number of occasions.
If you were to ask someone from outside the church, what the opinions of the church are, I’m almost certain you would get a long list of the things they think that the church is against. The reality is that on most issues, within the church, people have a range of opinions which are much more complicated than the extremes that occasionally get reported.
So, do we get combative and make our opinions more clearly heard or do we just sit there and accept the criticism?
This week I heard of a church that had a different strategy – one that I’d love our church to think about. Rather than being known for what they were ‘against’, they decided to become known for what they are ‘for’. And they simply decided to be known for their local community. That in itself is very scriptural. We know that God is for us individually as he has known us since we were formed in our Mother’s womb. God has always been for the ‘other’. And we know that Jesus is for us. Jesus’ most commonly known teaching is: love God and love one another, and he was consistently pointing out the marginalised, the oppressed, the widow and the orphan.
In the simplest theological sense, God is for humanity. God is so for humanity that at God’s greatest expense God gave of God’s very self in Jesus. So should not God’s people be for humanity as well?
Are we willing to bear the cost of being for others?
We have a great new resource coming available right now which places our actions and activities in front of the community. This is not so they can see what we are against, but rather that they may see how we are there for them.
Wouldn’t it be great if we became known as the church that is:
For the Gold Coast
Have a great week!