On Thursday I attended the Bishops Study Day for clergy and licensed ‘leaders’ in the Diocese of Rochester. I had been quite looking forward to the day as the key speaker was John Drane. he was talking on ‘Sharing the Gospel in a world of atheist churches and spiritual searchers’
The day was good. It made me think. It reminded me of stuff I had forgotten. It challenged me. John Drane did not disappoint. I love his clear and direct style mixed with a calm passion to do whatever it takes to make a difference.
There is a mass I could write as from his 3 sessions I have 3 incredibly detailed mind maps on the iPad. He started the day by setting a context that showed that, although people had given up on established religion, as such, they were still very spiritual. 39% of people in the UK pray regularly, 17% every day. Those are big figures!
One stat that hit me was that only 17% of people in the UK are certain, beyond doubt, that there is a God. The corresponding figure in the US is 60%! That disparity alone explains why I am always suspicious and warey of people who try to directly bring stuff that works in America here …. we are a very different nation! But I digress!
From the stats and other stuff, Drane asked what are people searching for …
– something that helps with everyday challenges
– somewhere to be accepted
– how to live and make sense of life
– someone to journey with
From my discussions in High Streets and pubs, I really relate to those ‘needs of search’. In many ways I think that is not only what people I hang out with are searching for … but if I am honest … it’s what I have been and am searching for as well.
Drane ended the first session by quoting Daniel Pink who says to relate and share relevantly in our world today we need to be:
creators, empathisers, pattern recognisers, meaning makers,
artists, storytellers, caregivers, big picture thinkers and consolers.
I love that …. mainly because I see something of myself in those words, or are they labels?. They are character traits that are hard to assess or evaluate. Sadly, too often, I think the church values strategists and project leaders more than the creators, big picture thinkers and empathisers. But … I do believe it is through these skills that we are able to listen, to learn and then be able to create with others in a relevant and meaningful way.
warning … i think the next paragraph became a bit of a rant … so feel free to skip this …
I guess I try and use those parts of me when I am out in the community. I’m searching for patterns while trying to get alongside, listening to stories and looking for creative opportunities. Thats actually makes life sound a lot grander than it is. Only last week a church leader (not an Anglican this time) said it was not fair that I get to do all the ‘fun stuff’. I find myself becoming incredibly frustrated now by such comments!
My ‘secret’ …. which is what people ‘ask’ for … is that I meet with ordinary people in ordinary places … and I believe … seriously … that anyone can find an ordinary place and an ordinary group of people in their own ordinary context! So … please … stop pretending I do something special that you can’t do …. cos actually I think you are using me as an excuse to not act …. and that’s pretty crappy … so … why not just go out and have some ordinary ‘fun’ with ordinary people in your own ordinary context!! Sheeesh!
Rant over …. but with no guarantees not to be repeated!
There is lots more to share from session 2 …. maybe tomorrow!