A week ago, after sixteen years of good service, my much loved old charcoal barbecue final collapsed in a heap of rust. With the end of season sales on, combined with the possibility of an Indian summer and the last chance to have some al fresco cooking, I took the plunge and bought a new gas barbecue. The contraption came in a box with an intimidating set of assembly instructions. I painstakingly laid out all the pieces and set about putting it together. The instructions repeatedly warned me of the danger of erecting the barbecue back-to-front. As I was meticulously following each step of the printed directives, I thought to myself: "there is surely no chance of a mishap when I am paying such close attention to every detail; how ridiculous to keep banging on about this supposed risk". It was therefore a bit of a shock, and rather disappointing, when I looked at the now completed barbecue, only to discover I had assembled it back-to-front.
At St Bs today it was Vision Sunday and I set out the vision for St Bs going forward from here. While doing this, I also pointed out the danger of building things back-to-front. So often the church has focussed most, if not all, its energies on a building project, while ignoring the ongoing mission of the church. When we stop to think about it, this is madness. A church building is after all only there to facilitate the mission of the church. It is essentially a tool: a very important and often beautiful edifice, which may evoke strong emotions. But still basically a tool. The real calling of the church is the work of mission, and that needs always to be our primary focus. However it is so easy to get these back-to-front.
The vision for St Bs is not to move to Solar House, but to reach out with the gospel of Jesus Christ to a needy world that is lost apart from God. The move to Solar House will be a spectacular catalyst for enlivening this vision, provided we prioritise the mission of the church. Meanwhile I slowly and carefully took my new barbecue apart and rebuilt it the right way round.