There were so many ways I could have written this. Analyse this purely through numbers, concentrate on the theology or possibly approach it from a historical point of view. Then it dawned on me that there were so many similarities between what we as a church would like to achieve and what the early church achieved. The vision of our church is clearly laid down.
“To be a Christian community helping people to connect with God, and to connect God with the whole of life, committed together to praying, welcoming and growing.”
Any vision can be achieved in a complex manner or made as simple as possible. Through investments I have come to realize that the first step to success is to have a clear goal and then go about achieving that goal through the simplest of means. Creating a plan to achieve that goal is always backed up by research and historical data. With investments, we are usually limited by the life of the product or theory. Back testing the performance of an investment and claiming that similar results will follow is a fallacy.
To me the Bible is clearer than any other financial books. It has historical data from the start of time. In the beginning, there was God and He created the heavens, the earth and light. Light and darkness was separated to create day and night. This was what happened on day one. I am not a theologian in any shape or form. However, from what I have read it seems clear that the early church did not start in the grandiose temple. It started in the upper room which was possibly a normal or low key room. The Holy Spirit came down on them. They began to speak in different languages. The people over there and the traders from all over the known world who were present there understood them and were amazed that common people who never left the region were speaking in foreign languages. That would have been an experience worth telling people about.
We had a sample of this when Church of the Ascension at Hanger Hill, St. Mary’s West Twyford, Resurrection Church and Potters Palace came together under one roof. It was pure beauty to see the church bursting at its seams and hear God being worshipped in different languages. It did not matter what colour skin we had, nor what language we spoke or where we lived. People were touched and you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that the presence of the Lord was there. Whether it was the soft stillness of prayer or the rejoicing in song. It has been months but I still get moved when I think about that day. The unexpected warmth of sun light shining through the window is imprinted in my mind. I felt the power of God.
Debates range about the population of Jerusalem. The numbers are between 20,000 and 100,000. During holy days those numbers would swell up to double that. 3,000 people were converted on Pentecost. That would mean between 3% and 6% of the people present in Jerusalem. To put things into perspective; the Emirates stadium has a capacity of 60,260. J.John is coming there on the 8th of July. If 3,000 people converted on that day then it would be a numeric equivalent.
If a quarter of the people who converted on the day of Pentecost were traders who spread the news of what they had witnessed in Jerusalem where ever they went then the number of people who would have converted would have expanded geometrically. I sometimes wonder what would have happened if the disciples and those that were converted would have kept what had happened to themselves?
When I look at the Bible I see a lot of similar trends. They are very important to me. God seems to have a habit of choosing the most unlikely of people to be his heroes. Joseph was one of the youngest children of Jacob. He was sold and became a servant. He ended up becoming second only to pharaoh. Moses was born a slave. He ended up being a prince of Egypt and probably one of the most important people in the Bible. David was a shepherd. He was the youngest son of Jesse. He became the ancestor of Jesus. Jesus was born in a manger and was a carpenter. He was born in Nazareth which was possibly one of the most insignificant places in Israel. Most of the disciples were fishermen. However, Christianity is the biggest religion in the world because they spread the word.
The only sign of life is change. To this effect, it is imperative for us to grow as a church. This growth should not be restricted to just the spiritual aspect of life. We should build relationships with people and not just limit ourselves to talking over coffee after church. It is also important to be outward looking. We need to serve the needs of Brent and Ealing and if we are ambitious then we can even focus on the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Area. Start small by talking to your neighbour and finding out if they need anything. If you cannot help them specifically then maybe there is someone else in church who will have the knowledge to help them. The early church had a plethora of problems and threats. Most of it was solved by simple sound advice. It was not easy to implement it. However, they were successful by being steadfast . They used their talents and gifts to enrich the church. Our God is a creative God and He created us in His image. I refuse to believe that He would send us into the world without giving us any gifts that we can utilise to glorify his name. Peter did not start off with a powerful sermon or song after the anointing on Pentecost. He caught the attention of the audience with humour by saying that the people who spoke in tongues were not drunk because it was only nine in the morning. Sometimes a welcoming smile is more important in retaining new worshippers than the sermon. The disciples were not rich monetarily but they gave in full measure whatever they had whether it was money or their gifts. Money while a necessity for the sustainability of the church must not be a hindrance for growth. If we start by making use of what we have for the church and the glory of God then with faith we shall in time be able to achieve the vision of the church and secure our future.