Don’t let our need for drama draw us into a place we can’t get out of.
The church has seen its share of big problems.
Most recently the 2021 Australian Census data was released, and for the first time the number of Australians who identify as Christians has dipped under 50% (it’s down to 44%). That’s certainly a big problem.
“Everyone just needs Jesus,” you say.
You’re right, you know. That’s a big solution to a big problem, and our participation in God’s mission is vital for that change to happen.
A minister friend of mine in a Facebook post reflected on this data (in part) like this:
“My experience of ministry is that within the parable of the lost sheep, many identify themselves as the lost sheep despite being the people in the pew. They have expected the church to chase them, provide for their needs, and they have remained blissfully unaware of the imperative of the parable to leave everything behind for the sake of one lost individual. The worship wars, traditional vs contemporary, people fighting viciously and with vitriol for their own power and control are a testimony to this.
“In essence, churches abandoned their core purpose long ago in favour of being comfortable to the people already there, and they would never give that comfort away for anything. Even churches that attempt change get strangled by compromise to self indulgence.”
Ouch. That hurts (probably because it’s more accurate than we might want to admit).
US philosopher Wendell Berry reflects on the notion that big problems don’t have big solutions – just lots of small ones. He asserts that we humans desire big solutions because we like big drama, and because it often excuses us from our participation in the solution – if it’s big, it probably won’t involve us.
The reality is for us to take seriously our role in God’s mission and see more people come to be more like Jesus we need to be involved in lots of the small solutions. We need to set aside our privilege and power and acknowledge that the church isn’t there to chase/placate/protect us; rather, our role is to go into the world searching for that one lost sheep and love the hell out of them.
Don’t get caught up expecting a big solution when God is looking to you to be one of the small solutions: be the person who engages in the Great Commission and prioritises the dual commandments as life-giving and all-welcoming.
The multitude of small solutions in God’s big plan are us leaning into our discipleship journey and daily saying ‘yes’ to Jesus. Stepping into the uncomfortable places and trusting our Saviour.
It’s us being bold enough to pray to God, asking “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” and meaning it.
Molk is the Young Adult Ministry Lead and Senior Field Officer (North) within the PULSE team