This following post is part of my response to ongoing discussions within my church, Sanctus1. it may or may not mean anything to you...
For those worrying about where Sanctus1 is going, there is one thing we can be sure of. Sanctus will *not* become a prescriptive church that requires a sign-on-the-dotted-line minimum commitment if you are to be a ‘proper’ Sanctus member. Sanctus is not like that. Ben is not like that. The strategy group folk are not like that.
But! I think there is something we need to be aware of as Sanctus that I may not be too popular for pointing out.
Think back to Sunday’s service if you were there. It was a multi-media fest that was complicated and technical. I only turned up to do the sound desk and the DJing, but I was shattered afterwards. It was a lot of hard work for a small number of people. When the service finished, I hung around to chat to a few people before I started setting down the sound; pulling out wires, putting things away, trying not to let the speakers fall on my head, etc.
As time went on, I realised the pack-down was not going as quickly as it usually does, so much so that by the time we had finished, the few of us who remained couldn’t possibly go to the pub. Pack-down had taken so long, we were staring down the barrel of last orders.
You are not a muffin
I am not suggesting that getting to the pub is an essential part of our Sunday services. Nor am I suggesting Sanctus1 is just a bunch of lazy muffins who don’t help to clear up after services. I think this happened because there were unusual circumstances: a few key people either weren’t there or a few key people had to get away.
However, it was unfair that Ben, having planned and run the service and knackered himself out as a result, had to work his butt off putting everything away at the end. It was unreasonable that the people who were most heavily involved in the service were left to tidy up their mess by most Sanctus people (not all, thankfully).
Which I think brings us back to getting practical, as Richard says. What if the Covenant Community idea gets knocked on the head because of the strong reaction to the leaflet that was sent out a few weeks ago? Where do we go from here?
Where do we go, part 1: Shredding Ben
We are a cool, chilled-out post-modern community that is led by the creativity and skill of its fuzzy-edged attendee-base. So why on Earth does Ben do most of the work? Why are we, in practice, almost totally led from the top?
As Sanctus1 gets larger, we need to work to make Ben redundant. By that I don’t mean bribing the human resources folks in the Church of England offices into shredding his contract. Sanctus1 as a loving community needs to take on Ben’s role, which means leading the Wednesdays and Tuesdays, doing the services, etc. It will free Ben up to lead the vision of Sanctus and initiate or develop more things like Blah, II, the MBS fair, other missional stuff, etc.
Of course, this relies on willing and discipline on Ben’s part to be let go of his role as it stands.
Where do we go, part 2: Teenager vs badger
Although I sound as though I’m admonishing a lazy teenager, I will say this anyway. People should not have to be asked to do the washing up, to put the chairs away, to scrape the wax up from the carpet, or to carry the tray of cups to the smelly Methodist kitchen. Badgering the service organisers on Sunday and offering five minutes of your time would have meant the world. (Sorry to mention Sunday again. I’m not annoyed about it, it is just an observation – I am merely using Sunday as my ‘model’ to argue with!)
I do recognise that a lot of people do these jobs a lot of the time, but not always and it’s often the same faces.
Where do we go part 3: Venn I fall in love, it will be forever
Richard’s suggestion of fairly low-key Venn diagram group structures deserves some thought. If the idea of being led by these groups scares you, just remember that it already happens to some extent, it’s just that the groups are often not overtly identified (are Kolyn and I the II Group?).
We arguably also need a group that identifies ways of getting people involved in S1 stuff that want to get involved, e.g. Claire doing some talky / discussion leading. I have really enjoyed the Wednesday evenings that have been led by other peeps – remember Stefan’s rapping?
Where do we go part 4: Navel fluff
I’m quite glad Richard suggested thinking in more concrete terms. We must move this discussion on because as long as we are navel gazing we are distracting ourselves from first-priority stuff like God and our relationship with God and our missional focus, etc. Not that the discussion shouldn’t be a priority, as I think it’s necessary and we are going through all-important growing pains, but we need to arrive somewhere.
One thing that struck me at Blah… was we can spend too much time discussing about ‘secondary’ things in the kingdom, so we need to manage our debate sensibly (which I think is achieved very effectively by Blah…).
Let’s enjoy a multitude of stimulating discussions during this Covenant-themed summer, but do remember that we are trying to move things forward, and do please please let your voice be heard.
If I didn’t go to Sanctus1, I wouldn’t go anywhere. I love the people in it and around it. I hope I have not been too critical or too judgemental. If so, it was a bad turn of phrase and was not intended. I have deliberately not edited my text above so I do not water down what I’m saying (I can become so appeasing, I can disappear easily into diplomatic nothingness). Also, I have not covered everything nor am I ever likely to.
I am surrounded in S1 by very committed and loving people, and I’m so glad it is you lot I am discussing with. Please respond, criticise, call for my summary execution, or gush [delete as appropriate].
Time for breakfast.
PS – my red-underline intrusive spell check thingy says ‘missional’ is not a word.