Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Dear Friends - June

Dear Friends
At the holiday Bible club, Going Bananas, we looked at the encounter between Jesus and Zacchaeus. Jesus’ determination to pursue sinners provoked outrage amongst the religious elite. In their opinion if Jesus was a godly man, as he claimed to be, he shouldn’t be found amongst the ungodly. It seems logical. But that doesn’t make it right. Jesus explained that his behaviour was entirely consistent with the ministry that God had given him. To explain what he was about, he used the words, ‘the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost’. When we came to teach the kids we really struggled with explaining the concept of ‘lostness’. What does it mean for a person to be lost? How would you articulate it? We realised that when something is lost, it’s not where it’s supposed to be. The keys ought to be in the key plate and when they’re not, they’re lost. In the same way, people are lost when they’re not where they should be. They should be living lives in glad and obedient submission to their loving Creator. But they’re not. And so they’re lost. Jesus came to find these people and put them back where they belong. He’s done it for us. And now we’re keen that he should do it for others. This is one of the most important convictions that underpins church life at CCB. We’re not primarily about looking after those of us who’ve been found, we’re primarily about seeking the lost. In fact, we’re prepared to leave the found to seek the lost, just as Jesus was. Not every church accepts this. But wonderfully this is not a battle that we have to fight at CCB. The month of May was largely taken up with trying to share in Jesus’ mission. The three major events in the church calendar all had the intention of seeking the lost.

1. The Away Day

This was held at the Factory, the new church building in Raynes Park. It was planned and implemented to perfection by Anna. It was attended by a huge proportion of both congregations. Dan Strange, a lecturer at Oak Hill Theological College, helped us with a subject he described as, Cultural Apologetics. In essence it’s a way of describing Peter’s command to defend the reason for the hope that we have [1 Peter 3:15]. It means that in interacting with our society, we’re trying to do two things. In the first place we’re trying to remove distortions to the gospel and thereby clarify people’s understanding. And secondly, we’re trying to remove false assurance and thereby convict people of the truth. It has value for both unbelievers and believers alike because we both share idolatrous heart commitments. In other words we worship things that aren’t God. What we worship or love manifests itself as a worldview, a framework of assumptions through which we understand everything. A worldview always takes shape as we create a culture in which those things are given significance. Cultural Apologetics helps us to identify, understand and evaluate these idolatrous influences. It’ll help us deal with idolatry in the hearts of unbelievers and in our own hearts. If we want to seek the lost we need to be able to critique the culture and work out what it tells us about what’s replaced God in our affections.

2. The Park Party

In essence The Park Party was a glorified Church Fete, though I’d never want to hear it called that! It conjures up unhealthy stereotypes that we’re keen to leave behind! The intent behind our inaugural Park Party was to try and connect with the local community. Most people in Balham have no contact at all with CCB. In a small way, we wanted to address that. But though we sought to promote CCB, what we really wanted to promote was Jesus Christ and his gospel. We were able to do this especially through the children’s talk from Luke 14. Wonderfully a huge number of people stayed on and came to the church meeting. At that event, loads of people heard that God has invited everyone to his heavenly feast. Christian and his team of helpers did a wonderful job of planning and implementing the event. The teams from the various Knowing God groups made invaluable contributions on the day. The band provided a wonderfully varied musical programme. And we are deeply indebted to those who cooked cakes and biscuits. There will be lots that we can learn from our first attempt at this scale of event but above all, it was a tremendous success.

3. The Holiday Club

We took a bit of punt pitching Going Bananas at Primary School aged children. CCB only has two kids in that age range! But if we always let reason win over risk we’d never get anything started! Alright, we let their slightly younger siblings come along as well, so that boosted numbers. But even that concession meant that only 6 of the 20 children who came are part of Christ Church Kids. Wonderfully through our involvement at Telferscot, friendships with parents at Henry Cavendish and the regular Christ Church Kids’ Parties we were able to promote the holiday Bible club wider than we’d hoped. We even had one family who came as a result of The Park Party. Polly did a fantastic job in planning the three mornings and running the team of willing and talented volunteers. Many took time off work to be involved. It was a great team effort and a reminder that as a church we are one body with many parts [1 Corinthians 12:12]. As with many of the things we’ve done, if we start small, pray and back it the Lord will use our efforts for His glory. God willing, this will be the first of our Holiday Bible Clubs and an integral part of a growing children’s ministry. Conclusion It won’t always be easy ‘seeking the lost’. It cost Jesus his life. We’ll find it’ll cost us as well. But as we know personally, the experience of salvation is worth every sacrifice that we could possibly make.
With best wishes in Christ