Tales from the backline:4
I have known him for a while; someone who seems to do a lot, yet ‘be’ a lot and doesn’t shout about what he is doing. I respect him enormously.
Last week we were around a table in a pub and he asked us ‘What inspires you, fires you as a Methodist minister?’ After a few had spoken he began to speak about his real passion which was spending time with people outside formal church with only the faintest flickerings towards faith. He had realised that an increasing number of people wanted to get married or baptised in a church that had pastoral charge over (that is one of our quaint phrases, but I like it better than ‘his’ church or ‘my’ church; it is not- it is God’s church).
He began to visit them. Always his first words were ‘Yes of course, love to’. But his second words were ‘Shouldn’t you check us out first- see if you are happy? How about finding out more so that your day will mean more?’ I have heard others say something similar and it always seemed a bit disingenuous. This person, in contrast, is totally sincere.
So people did, and gradually, often after the event, he asked them if they wanted to know more. Some did. He began meeting with them. I had heard many say ‘But I haven’t got time for that; I wish I had.’ By any measure he hasn’t; but months in advance he began to block weekly evenings. Slowly, prayerfully, but never ‘hard sell’, he began to invite people. I asked him if he used anything: courses, techniques etc. ‘No, just the lectionary; we pray, someone reads the passage and it would just go from there’.
I loved listening; he wasn’t brash and had a depth, realism and a trust that warmed me. Sensitive to God, his area and context and not flashy. And he has made me think so much….