Friday, April 4, 2014

More on the Hospice Church

Our denomination has recently circulated some material to encourage small churches; it’s full of practical and imaginative advice about how to serve such congregations.
But the advice has come from the USA, where the definition of a small church is around three to four times the number of members that we would expect to find in a "small" church here. And there would be no way that such a church in this country could even contemplate paying for much in the way of ministry.
I’ve been doing more reflecting on my concept of the “Hospice Church” where an ageing congregation of less than a dozen members in a town going into recession are still willing to roll up for worship if someone else provides the resources of leadership. I was a little disparaging of them in an earlier post. But there are some strengths in that situation and I am going to explore them.

Too often we have told the congregation of under 30 people that they really should “make a decision” about their future when they were actually already working on it. Too often the wider church has imbued the small church with a sense of failure. Too often, we have put before them programmes and strategies and ideas that may be appropriate for a medium or larger congregation.
But we have forgotten that the small church is not just smaller, it is different…

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Strength for the day?

Around 6am today, the NZ Herald on my phone informed me that earthquake strengthening Auckland’s buildings will cost $10 billion. On a statistical basis, it was claimed, this would probably save seven lives in a hundred years. However, five to seven other lives would be lost due to stress of the strengthening process.  The article pointed out that if the $10 billion were spent on improving our roads, quite a few lives would be saved each year.

The article rang some bells for me. I have been uneasy about the huge cost of earthquake-proofing every Methodist church in the country against the long odds of a serious earthquake hitting with no warning on a Sunday morning at 10am. So I rushed to the newly set up computer to put a post on my blog.

I went to check the facts and found this interesting piece had disappeared from the Herald App. My suspicious mind reminded me that it is April 1st. Could the now invisible “report” be an April Fool stunt? That would be in pretty bad taste just when we are all agonising over the personal stories as the inquests and investigations continue.  Christchurch has taught us that earthquakes have to be taken very seriously, even in low-risk zones. 

But life teaches us also that stuff happens. Earthquakes, tsunamis and the effects of global warming are part of the reality of our existence. We all live just one day at a time. At the end of the day we cannot protect ourselves or those we love against every possible contingency. Faith is not doing everything we possibly can to ensure that we will be here tomorrow. It is living today as if there will be a tomorrow. That should be enough for us. 

All the same, I'm glad that our new home is also more than 30 metres above sea level.