Friday, October 14, 2016

Church Growth

With others, I have shared oversight for a growing church.

We are growing older, as – reflecting our national population – many of us are living into old age, and our youth go off to university or employment in other parts of the country. Aging is deeply challenging to everyone, and for society as a whole; yet it is an opportunity to keep journeying with Jesus and to discover grace in the struggle.

We are growing more ethnically mixed, as to the white English demographic and a sprinkling of Nigerian and Asian postgrads, we now include Iranian asylum-seekers. In a big shift over the past year, now roughly a quarter of our congregation are Farsi speakers, with limited English language. They are a wonderful gift to us, but also a real challenge as we wrestle with the language- and culture-barriers, a fear-mongering media, the lack of compassion in the way those who seek asylum have their claim processed, and always a high turnover. Again, these challenges are an opportunity to encounter Jesus and be transformed – all of us.

We are growing weaker. Pensioners, and those who have fled their homes, are not resource-rich; at least, not in material resources, or in influence. But in the upsidedown Kingdom of heaven, God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. So we are learning to trust in him and not in our own abilities.

I share oversight of a growing church. It is deeply uncomfortable. By definition it involves death and resurrection, again and again. Not everything that has grown in our midst has been healthy, and often such growth cannot be addressed in haste, lest good things that are emerging alongside be uprooted. But in this, too, Jesus is faithful.

I share oversight of a growing church.

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