Sunny Birthday Picnic at Hyde Park and Some Shadows
Gloriously sunny bank holiday Monday. Green-striped deck chairs and sunhats, small boys with beloved balls, canoodling couples with wicker baskets, were out in full force.
A birthday picnic with at least 14 different cakes, so that no one knew where to put the candles for the two birthday people. There was cake eating and hot flasks of milky tea. There was retro rollerblading, and even more retro rollerskating. There was even more cake eating and tea.
Introduced myself to the girl sitting on my left. Although she was from a different and non-affiliated church, she said she’d heard alot about me, and worryingly, didn’t disagree when I said they must not have been good things. Happily, being a well-brought up Brit, she was polite enough to stay and chat.
Some other people from various other churches, one of whom was also at the School, joined us and conversation soon turned to the rigour of teaching in one church’s associate training scheme and at The School. Most of the staff at The School seemed more concerned with the keeping of certain rules and administration than caring for the growth in godliness of the students. The syllabus was also too basic for many, who assuaged their boredom by playing Monopoly with their neighbours on the iPad, or or racing fancy sports cars on their phones. While the associate scheme was very good for training people to read and interpret the Bible, it too did not emphasise on growth in godliness so that you would some times get very argumentative graduates who were more concerned with winning people to their point of view rather than building up the body or who would know how to act to please the Tutor but were otherwise not really bothered with serving the church community. Also, it did not train associates in other aspects of ministry.
What would the correct response be to these situations?
- To give feedback but to ultimately sigh and say,”Ah well, no training scheme is perfect.”?
- To learn from what the School and the associate scheme have done wrong and vow not to repeat their mistakes?
- To accept that God has put each of us in our own situation and to learn what we can from them?
The older and wiser folk at the Local Church, being more partial to participating in God’s plan than partisan politics, have been constantly reminding me that God is sovereign over all things. Therefore:
- while it is right to ensure that we receive as much training as possible to do a good job in ministry, it is God who will ultimately determine the training we will get;
- it is not ultimately our ministry but God’s ministry;
- while it is right to want to minister to God’s people better and while we will be responsible for how we have/have not served them, these are ultimately God’s people and he will determine how they will be ministered to;
- it is too little a thing for God to train us just through training schemes; we are being trained as we react in a godly manner to different situations in life;
- God keeps us humble through trials and weaknesses so that we will not be deceived by some illusion of self-sufficiency but will always depend on Him as we should – in prayer, in petition, in thanksgiving.