Wednesday, May 13, 2009

((deep)), City Centre Corps & the death of quantity...

City Centre Picnik collage

The death of quantity... what a bold statement... but one I have been mulling over for the last four days or so. Don't get me wrong... I have been seriously conflicted and have had my doubts but... I think... I have moved on.

Let me explain.

Saturday night was ((deep)). 11 likeminded peeps met in the Salvation Army's City Centre Corps in Anderston, Glasgow; for a time of sharing and contemplation. 5 of these peeps were "the team" with the other 6 being participants. We talked brands. We talked cultural representations. We drew pictures and labelled all the brands on display. We watched clips from "So I married an axe murderer" and "Saved". We drank coffee and shared together. The team possibly spoke too much but that's one thing we need to learn from. All in, a fab evening.

Sunday morning I spoke at the Salvation Army's City Centre Corps' Sunday gathering. I took my mother & father in law with me to help out... as Olly, in her role as Singing Company Leader elect, was busy with her new responsibilities. 7 likeminded peeps met on Sunday morning. 3 of them arrived in my car. 4 of them were from the Corps itself. We sang with gusto... praising God with hymns & choruses. Anne brought two fab poems & James accompanied us on the piano. I spoke on shining our lights. We had a blast.

On both occasions I verged on being disheartened: "Is this it???" I thought to myself... "Is this everyone that's coming?"

On both occasions I was subsequently encouraged by a feeling of relational depth and of a persuasive desire to be there.

On Saturday night I would have rather had fellowship with the 11 folk who were there... because they wanted to BE there... than be in a space with many folk who may have preferred to be somewhere else.

Same goes for Sunday morning. The 4 folk who were there.... WANTED to be there too.

Both were underpinned by deep relationships... and a willingness to experience something of God's love, grace & power.

All these elements are qualitative.

If I had a quantitative head on... I would agree with Einstein and argue that a sign of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This was where part of my conflict lay... was I doing the same thing over and over again but eagerly expecting different results?

The evidence of this conjecture? 11 peeps & 7 peeps. Back to quantity. But then these peeps demonstrated things of value that can not be counted.

I do think there is a bloodymindedness about carrying on... in both endeavours... but then that's a quantitative expression too.

Jesus talked about the twos and threes. Yes... He talked to crowds... but He also engaged people within a far smaller frame of reference.

It got me thinking about the parable of the talents:
"It's also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master's investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master's money.

"After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

"The servant with the two thousand showed how he also had doubled his master's investment. His master commended him: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

"The servant given one thousand said, 'Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.'

"The master was furious. 'That's a terrible way to live! It's criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

"'Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this "play-it-safe" who won't go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.'
Matthew 25: 14-30 (The Message)

I like the way Peterson phrases the Master's response to the two faithful stewards: 'Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.'

I also like how the NIV puts it:
'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'
In other words... even if I wanted to define things in numbers... I must be faithful with the few as much as I am faithful with the many.

This parable is about risk. Its about doing the most with what we are given. I am blessed to be party to the deep relationships I spoke of above. I wanted to be at ((deep)) & at the City Centre Corps because of these relationships. I want people to want to be at these gatherings. I don't want people to be there because they have to... but because they have a raging fire in their bellies to be with God, to worship Him & to celebrate His resurrection in fellowship with folk who want the same.

For me... that's the true definition of success: I provide or be part of the provision of the space & opportunity for people to be with God... where they can worship Him & celebrate His resurrection in fellowship with folk who want the same.

This is why quantity is dead... because whilst I must be faithful with the few as I am with the many... for me, its about more about just being faithful. This isn't bloodyminded stubborness but a realisation that I am called to be faithful... and to do my bit... focussing on the quality of this bit.

In the words of the sign reported to have hung in Einstein's office at Princeton...
Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.
Lets focus on the stuff that can't be counted but counts more than anything else.


If you want to hear my thought from Sunday morning... download it [ here ]. Let me know what you think.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A great post. Well thought out and I think reflects how a lot of us are feeling about certain things.

But I am reminded about Seth Godin when he says people want the small, the intimate and the unique and I am sure that is what you provided in your service to both these activities.

Growth comes through being healthy. No one grows out of a desire to do so but out of health and taking care of what we are and have.

But all in all a great post. Don't be discouraged but take joy in these small beginnings.


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