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Will autumn damage the health of your church? 

John Rackley questions the demands many churches place on themselves at this time of the year

Busy500Autumn is a time when many organisations re-start after their summer break.  As well as being a time for starting new ventures, each Sunday seems to have some special focus for prayer or mission.

It rightly reflects the education start of the year, but I wonder what sort of witness this may be to the approaching Kingdom of God and the Church as a sign of God’s way of being community. Are we becoming an image of our society’s worship of speed, consumption and ‘success at any cost’?

It has been said that Baptist churches can suffer from anxious activism. We have to be seen to be doing something at all costs. It is as if Jesus told his disciples to see the wonderful harvest God had prepared and start a feeding frenzy.

I wonder whether the way we handle autumn contributes to Christian burnout, and I reflected on this in prayer recently:
 
 
Lord, it was good to worship you this morning.
It was good worship.
Joyful song,
profound prayer.
with an astute sermon.
But why did I come out worried?
worried for this church,
worried for the minister,
worried for the leadership.
 
It was the way the service began.
The Notices-
Well, that’s what they used to call them.
They were all about what was going to happen next month.
Poor little August had had its moment,
September loomed over us
full of promise and .... threat;
what we weren’t going to do was nobody’s business.
Sorry; everybody’s business.
 
It was so - US
So
Not
THEM
Or
YOU.
 
Lord
I pray for regional ministers dashing around their patch,
I pray for leaders constantly on the look-out for volunteers,
I pray for newly-settled ministers already burdened with harvest time-expectation.
I pray for the people who had a bright idea last March and are now nervously
waiting its outcome this October.
I pray for the people who will say ‘yes’ too many times and the others who will
be misunderstood for saying ‘no’.
I pray for those who will call for a prayer meeting and finding it up against too many other
occasions ‘which need our time’.
I pray for some who will haunted by ‘what happened last year’ and others who just wish
‘something new would happen this year’.
 
Lord, I am convinced and delighted
that the harvest is still great;
let the light of your work
brighten our faith and calm our effort
 so we do not become
a beacon of burnt-out endeavour.

 

 
John Rackley is a Baptist minister. He also blogs on http://windingquest.wordpress.com/

On 5 October John leads a Quiet Day on the theme of Holy Simplicity at Launde Abbey. It will explore the virtue of an uncluttered life which challenges the fraught busyness that unsettles the faith of so many Christians and undermines the quality of Church witness and worship.




Picture: Elevation Church





 

Baptist Times, 16/09/2015
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