I had the privilege of speaking at the 'Great Escapes' - the student mid-year getaway for St Andrew the Great ('StAG') in Cambridge - last week. Here's a few reminders and lessons learnt for us.
- Rigour in doing the basic things of church well. A big church with a strong history could rest on its laurels. But StAG continually work really hard at the basics. They are constantly reviewing everything - how Sunday meetings were run, how the preaching was - even when they ran games on the Escape: 'how could we do it better'! And they recognise the huge value of personal discipleship and make sure that they're really caring for every individual.
- Question times. There was a question box for students in response to the talks, and over a hundred questions were submitted! That wasn't just because of larger numbers; it was because they have an eagerness to learn God's Word and understand. Yes, they are Cambridge students and have active brains. But that ought not to be something limited to them. We need to work at encouraging each other to work hard at thinking, and be hungry to engage with the Bible.
- Urgency with patience. The work of the gospel generally feels slow - seeing people grow in their love for Christ, or seeing people become interested in the first place. But StAG are not growing weary of their work. It is possible to be patient, waiting for God to work in his way and his time, whilst maintaining an urgency in our mission. I wonder if we've become a little sluggish?
- Small 'events' to draw people in are a good thing. StAG are a big church, and therefore need to highly organise their programmes of events. We are small, and therefore more informal by nature. But we still need to organise ways in for people to hear the good news of Jesus. 300 years ago, churches could just keep preaching the gospel faithfully, and see the work of God in people's lives - because in those days, most people went to church to hear. (They had to by law!) Now people have no idea why they would even want to hear about Jesus. So we need to properly organise ways that people will gently get to know us, get to hear about Jesus, and be drawn in to the regular Sunday get-togethers where they can hear from God's Word. Check out the article on 'POSS', 27th September 2010.