Building your church... or His Kingdom?
Michael Shaw wonders about what would happen if we applied Jubilee principles to our churches
When we think of a Jubilee
we often think of it in economic terms. But when Jesus comes it is more than just pure economics. In Luke 4
, Jesus ushers in a Jubilee by proclaiming good news for the poor, recovery of sight for the blind and freedom for prisoners, so he seems to imply that economics is only part of the Jubilee he was offering.
The principle of Jubilee is a levelling. It is not about a communist view of heavy state control, nor is it a capitalist view of spiralling success for the few at the expense of many. It is a view that allows people the freedom to prosper, but to never become so prosperous that others lose out.
I wonder what would happen if we applied Jubilee principles to churches? I wonder what that would look like? I wonder what would happen if every 70 years large churches had to share their wealth (economic, facilities and people) with smaller churches? I wonder if we could even countenance such madness?
wonder what would happen if every 70 years large churches had to share their wealth (economic, facilities and people) with smaller churches?
Is it madness? Is it madness that we should apply Jubilee principles to churches?
One statistic that I often hear is that once a church building reaches 80-90 per cent capacity the church stops growing. There are then several options, separate congregations, church plant, build or accept. One of the options I would love churches at that point to consider is releasing people to other congregations, a Jubilee. Challenging people as to whether they are too comfortable, whether it is time to take on a new challenge. Not just any people, or difficult people, but key people.
This sounds uncomfortable, this sounds potentially dangerous, even large churches struggle to fill all their rotas, and pay all their bills, why would they want to start encouraging committed active people to move on?
If you are asking that question, then the question to ponder is this: what are we about? Building the unstoppable Kingdom of God, which has at its heart Jubilee, or building our own particular church, in our own part of town?
When we are generous with resources God has given us, then he is happy to give us more resources, when we bury those resources and hope that we won’t lose anything more, then God will take away even what we have. So what are you building, your church or His Kingdom?
Maybe it is time for Church Jubilee?
The Revd Michael Shaw is minister of Devonport Community Baptist Church, Plymouth
Picture: Stuart Miles/freedigitalphotos.net