Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Loving a Challenge

Shackleton's advert is often used in various talks about motivation or challenge, its fascinating to consider how many men signed up to take on such a task.  I've just finished reading Steve Backshall's autobiography and he is one of the type to sign up to just such an undertaking - he loves challenge, the unknown, the risk, pushing himself.

Its interesting to look at the narrative of the Bible and identify just those sorts of characters, characters who were prepared to take a stand, to risk, to push themselves beyond their limits trusting God; Abram, Ruth, Elijah, Jacob, Joseph, Caleb, Joshua, David, Jonathan, Esther, Mary, Peter, Paul and so on...

I wonder if that advert above were reworded and posted in christian magazines how many would respond?

"People wanted for hazardous life, no monetary recompense, life lived as exiles among spiritual darkness, few resources, resentment from the locals, opposition and persecution highly likely, apathy a given.  Honour and recognition in the form of hearing God's well done on that day."

I have to say that there are often times when it seems in talking to people about Doncaster that that is what I am asking people to sign up to.  Yorkshire as a whole is spiritually bleak, there are few sizeable churches, it is so I am told the only county in England never to have experienced revival.  And Doncaster is a typical Yorkshire town with all its great character, friendliness and blunt talking honesty, but also with its suspicion and hardness to the gospel.  It is no different to a Rotherham, a Pontefract, or other Yorkshire towns.  But alongside that God is no different, he is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask, he is a God who patiently waits for the gospel to be proclaimed and people to be won.

I do wonder what has happened to our trust in God, to our taking risks by faith.  It especially makes me wonder when I hear of often young professionals who decide to stay living in their former student city but work in Doncaster because the churches in Doncaster are not like City churches in say Sheffield or Leeds.  No these churches are not like city churches which have a good population of young twenties because those young twenties also commute in.  They are also not like city churches in other ways, they often have small staff teams, often of 1, they do not have lavish resources, and they are often less polished and professional.

Yes, there are struggles with leaving a church you love where many of your friends have stayed after graduation, yes it may mean there is not the same twenties group around you.  But having made that same leap myself  at 25, leaving a church my wife and I loved as students and as a newly married couple, where we were serving in growing ministries to go to a church that was small and where we were the only couple our age, with a gap of about 10 years either way to serve, it is worth it.

How do we decide on where we live?  Is it ease is it comfort it?  What about loving a challenge?  What about looking at the area around where you live with gospel goggles on?  Asking not where am I comfortable but where can I serve?  Not where are there people like me but where can I go which will be accessible to my work colleagues and friends?

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