Another picture of the ongoing work at St John's. A recent trend in church outreaches has been the concept of 'Messy Church' where the service is completely laid back, with an informal message. Yesterday I was reading a Church Army Research paper (RB6 Summer 2010) which includes feedback from a messy Church Project.
The Church in question had attempted to engage their congregation in a 'Start' course (which I believe is a derirative of the Alpha course) . The course bombed and their assessment was refeshingly honest. To quote:
"In conversations afterwards, it seemed that all this talk about big life and death issues wasn’t what they were after. To paraphrase one mum: ‘I love my kids and I like to go out on a Friday night. But thinking about all this God stuff is just too much. All I want to know is what words to say so that I can get confirmed.’"
In other words the Congregation were attracted by what they saw of the Holy Spirit in those who ran 'Messy Church' , but weren't interested in committment. St Johns in it's present state is an allegory of the state of Humanity without God. Strip away the facade and beneath is a sea of mess, darkness, rot and rubble that we Christians call Sin. The excellent builder that is transforming our Church once did a free job for my dad in connection with his gas boiler, that could well have saved his life. Ever afterwards my dad mentioned the name of this builder as someone who was utterly reliable and could sort out his problems for free (My dad was a typical Yorkshireman).
Now the gentleman in question (the man in the blue top) has already cleared out the rubble, damp and rot and is laying the sure foundations of a new floor. I know that I have allowed rubble and trash to accumulate in my life, I admit a need to get rid of the trash and don't want any more in my life.
The work is free, we just need to realise our need and rely on the Builder. As 1 John 1:9 says: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
As regards our builder in St John's, I'm aware this is an allegory too far, 'the labourer is worthy of his hire' and I hope he is well paid.