A few weeks back I was waiting to speak at a camp for high school leaders and as I sat down to have some coffee beforehand, I got talking to one of the leaders. As I explained what it is that I do and (more realistically) what I hope to do, he remarked that I was quite a radical guy.
In the next few weeks that comment has rankled me somewhat, and the more I think about it the more it has frustrated and irritated me.
As a sidenote it also exposed me as well and truly in my mid-thirties. My 20-something year old self would have been delighted with that kind of comment probably would have put it on my business card or as a tag line on my blog. Naturally I had neither of these either. But instead of feeling delight I felt irritation… time for early nights and cups of tea it would seem.
Back to the main point; what is the big deal about this comment?
I think it is because our vision is in so many way very ordinary. It is all about ordinary people living ordinary lives with gospel intentionality. This is not a radical vision for taking the gospel to North Korea on a motorbike. Or starting a big tent revival ministry in Saudi Arabia.
The Crowded House, Woodstock (still under construction) is all about helping a neighbour clean their yard, playing soccer with the kids, serving the local schools, becoming good neighbours, throwing parties, giving gifts, making friends, telling stories. It is about eating together, sharing life together, being present in our community, praying for needs, picking up rubbish, caring for neighbours and our neighbourhoods. It is about watching rugby, visiting the pub, drinking coffee, fixing cars, moving furniture… this is our grand missions strategy! There is nothing radical here – no jumping through flaming hoops of fire or running naked over the polar ice caps. Just a bunch of ordinary people, sharing ordinary life – with the hope that as we strive to be the neighbours, friends and colleagues everybody wants we commend Jesus to people in such a way that they ask us to give a reason for the hope that we have.
This is so ordinary, anyone can be a good neighbour. Anyone can make coffee, pick up rubbish, greet a stranger or throw a party. That anyone can call this radical can only mean that the church has forgotten what it means to be truly human. That we are so busy debating our doctrine and fine-tuning our meetings that we forgotten what it is all for… God is busy creating a new community where his gospel is on display in the lives of his people, where we may glimpse a weak and imperfect picture of God’s new Kingdom. God’s restored humanity.