Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Whats in a name.

Many of my friends belong to motorcycle clubs. They have in some cases provocative names, in others just a simple statement of them being bikers. But they are judged for those names, and the perception that goes with the name. A few years back a good friend of mine refused to come to a rally with me because of the name of the club who put it on, and how it would look to those within the established church, if he was seen at this gathering. At the time i was a bit hacked off with him, and let him know i thought he was being stupid. Today it's different, we have the emergent church, we have initiatives with fancy titles for going to the fringes of society to take the Gospel to them. Initiatives that are in some cases effective, in others less so.

Being separate from the world is a requirement of the Christian walk, and over the years many well meaning Christians have taken it to mean complete separation from the day to day, the struggles and the sin that goes with day to day life. But what does it actually mean to be separate from the world? Can we be effective witnesses if we never engage with a fallen broken society, and all those people who make it up. The simple answer is no we cannot, we have to go and proclaim the Gospel, we have to go and proclaim Gods love to a shattered society, a society that we are part of.

Some of us, myself included work better on the edge, it's where i'm most comfortable. There has to be a cliff i can look over, thats when i'm happiest. When i'm staring into the void, chatting with, praying with those people on the fringes of society, thats when i'm happiest as a Christian. The run of the mill mundane drives me mad. It saps my strength and dries me up. When i'm on the edge i feel closer to God, i feel alive. Some of my friends are members of bike clubs, they have names that make Christians squirm, but they squirm for the wrong reasons. We should be squirming because we judge a book by it's cover, we judge according to a name, we judge according to our understanding. If more people squirmed for the right reasons, we could see a massive shift in the way church functions, we can move from the traditional way of doing church into a vibrant, life giving ethos. It's time for the church to decide on wether the status quo is working or wether, we get a new dynamic running parrallel to it. There is a world waiting for the church to rise up, and we have to do it.


  1. love this Andy - fellow cliffhanger!!!
    You have to be at the brink to being people back from it. Listen to "Come all you vagabonds" - it is a great inclusive new hymn in the style (in my opinion) of Wesley.
    He would be on the cliff with us, not behind the guide rails looking on.

    Great post

  2. " If more people squirmed for the right reasons, we could see a massive shift in the way church functions, we can move from the traditional way of doing church into a vibrant, life giving ethos"- just brilliant- thank you!

  3. I have always loved the idea of 'liminality' and my PhD work looked at the beginning of Deut 27, how do we mark boundaries, keep boundaries and avoid being swamped by what we find on the other side?

  4. And this was my version!


  5. I think depending on where you feel called to be, its a hard one. There are times i despair about how things are. Getting swamped is easy for all of us, but we have to have a sense of character and a sense of understanding our calling. One false move with the fringes of society i deal with and 8 years of trust building is out the window. It's always a leveller if you get my point.

  6. Whomever you are helping must be working harder than you. That is the key and oodles of prayer and praise.

    We have to be in the world, in the swamps but we can't be compromised by the world. For one person having a beer with people is good, for another it is a slippery slope.

    You have to know your own boundaries and not step over them.

    It should be clearly seen in us, that there is something different about us, something desirable - peace, serenity whatever it is, that makes people look and ultimately seek, that we are channels of His love and His grace should be clearly seen.

    I have a friend, a priest, who also takes part in joyriding activities so he can reach into the lives of these broken young men. Is he wise? Is he right? Not for me to judge.