There are some churches around the world that are world’s best practice. Their music is world-class. Their ‘customer’ service is second to none. Their preachers are more inspirational than the best TED talkers. Their facilities are better than the best Westfield shopping centre. They hold international conferences which attract thousands of delegates. As far as churches go, these are the best. But they only comprise less than 1% of all churches around the world. For the rest of us in the 99% of churches around the world, we may not be among the best, but we are generally comprised of those who are doing their best. And it seems that Jesus is still entrusting His mission to people like us – people who stumble and falter.
Life often presents us with circumstances where we feel like we are no longer in control. In these moments we tend to look for whatever we know we can control. This is why a husband will lash out at his somewhat compliant wife (and why some men would only marry a woman they knew they could intimidate). It is why a big sister, who is struggling to control her world in which her “friends” are so mean to her, will belittle her little sister at home. It’s why a boss who can’t control the economy will demean a junior employee in front of the other staff. And it’s why a boy who feels deprived of his father’s affirmation will become a bully in the schoolyard. Apart from these relational controls we have all found great comfort in at least controlling what we eat or drink. Thus, a teenage girl will stop eating – because at least she can control that. A too-long-single person, overwhelmed by loneliness, which they interpret as rejection, will eat to excess in an attempt to control something. For those who might identify with any of these examples I have two pieces of pastoral advice.