The story in the current world news, which I keep thinking about is of the Chilean miners. 33 miners, trapped 700m underground. It's amazing they were found alive after, I think, 17 days searching, but I understand the news they might not be rescued until Christmas has now reached them - wow!
Now my story (the vague link here is the canary) because the using canaries, as an early warning system in British mines, was in place until 1987. Toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and methane in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the miners. Canaries are well known for their continual singing and so they often provided an audible, as well as visual warning sign of trouble.
Now the church link - I returned from a recent visit to a church thinking 'how many canaries need to die before someone thinks we might just need to do things differently around here?' (probably subconsciously because of the Chilean story - told you there was a link here!).
Basically this church has declined drastically, numerically, over the last twenty years. They've abandoned their sunday evening service, which was a serious blow. They've now had to start giving meetings, which I was told have been going for years (over 25 was quoted), etc.
However, alongside this there was a strong hint, in a whole variety of conversations, we are who we are (I wanted to add 'once were') and we are not going to change - anything.
So, what would I do? I'd buy some canaries! Basically, we've asked all our churches recently to begin thinking and talking about where they think they'll be in 10 years time - if the recent trends at work among them continue. What are the signs we all need to alert us we're actually headed in the wrong direction? If I was miner and my canary fell off its perch, whatever else I'd do, doing nothing would not be an option. My fear is in many churches a swift calculation goes on in people's heads - how old am I? how much air is left? If the answer comes out as 'enough air for me, then someone else can close the door when they leave.
Yeah, OK, not very promising for a thursday morning, but it is August and it is raining - again.