Friday, 22 August 2008

Olympics & Church

I just waited to see if Tim Brabants could win gold in the K1 1000m before I started work - he did! Sensational race. The BBC internet coverage is superb - I can catch up with e-mail and listen and then watch when I can't resist anymore. It was a sensational performance by Christine Ohuruogu to win the 400m gold and, for me, these Olympics have been absolutely sensational. I just keep using that word sensational again and again. So many great GB performances, so many 'the first time we've medalled'.. for 40, 80, years in this event - brilliant (of course, assuming you like sport!). However, how have we done it? It's a tremendous improvement since Athens 4 years ago when, in terms of gold/silver/bronze we won 9/9/12. It's even more significant compared to the Olympics I grew up on. In Mexico 1968, which is the earliest I can remember when I was 9 we won 5/5/3 - I could even remember most of the gold medallists there were so few. Let's face it, that was the norm and, consequently, that was our expectation. Now for the Church - time for a groan if you were content for a GB boosting Olympics blog! One question I keep returning to is 'who are the real heroes?' - in your Church and mine? This in an area with which we need to take care. Many will respond with a 'we don't do heroes', but then ask yourself who are the people/role models etc. a new comer would think they need to aspire to if they're (their words honest) to make it around here/be accepted/be looked to/etc. Hopefully, you get my drift. Newcomers get the message one way, or another - and I don't think it's usually Jesus! The role model often, I suspect, looks like - you can be a leader if you attend all the meetings. The heroes often resemble the worship leader who keeps up to date with whatever's the latest songs coming out from a range of stables, or less. The focus of attention is frequently on the most recent newcomer who looks keen and becomes a magnet for every job going. Now, if you can put all this down to cynicism, that would be good - do let me know though because I think cynicism is corrosive and don't want to become ensnared by it. My real worry is I think it's a fairly realistic assessment. If we are to get very far with 'encouraging missionary disciples' we have to consciously find some new heroes. The Olympics provides us with some heroes and one of the things I love about it all, as a supporter, is how enthusiastic I can get about sports I know nothing about - I can cheer as loud (almost) as if Liverpool were winning: for rowing, BMX, kayaking, etc. if I think GB can win a medal. The point is I don't care what the discipline is, if they're delivery a contribution to our medals haul, I'm for them. One vision, many disciplines. The competitors have a similar focus - of course they want to win for personal reasons, but time and time again we hear - 'I'm just focused on hearing the national anthem', which represents the achievement in the bag. I've said it before in many places, but we need to promote those who bring others into faith in Jesus. After the baptism it's always worth highlighting this person mentioned Tim, or whoever, who was the single most identifiable reason why they began to think about God. Surely, it's the people who are living the life beyond the walls of the Church we need newcomers to emulate, rather than those who live in the ghetto - or do i just have to go to too many deacons meetings? 

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