Saturday, November 28, 2009

My local Polish carwash made me think about church...

I'm just in from taking my car to the local carwash. I was kind of manky and it was way too cold for me to do it myself. A group of Poles have been washing cars next to the railway crossing for a good while now and Olly has frequented them many times to her personal delight... this was my first time and I have come away equally delighted.

Why? They did a thorough yet quick job at cleaning the car... it looks fab and... most importantly... it only cost me £3.


My car is gleaming... and I don't have frostbite... all for £3.

As well as making me happy as Larry... the trip also inspired me to think about expressions of church.

At my work... we have a departmental mantra of
Simple... Agile... and Cost Effective
This is the benchmark to which we aspire to as a Technology Department... all that we do should be simple... as agile and nimble as possible... and undertaken in a cost effectively manner.

Today I saw this in practice... at the carwash.
  • Its a simple operation - 1 choice: get your carwashed for £3 or don't.
  • Its an agile operation - they don't have much in the way of equipment... a couple of pressure washers and some enthusiasm... and they could easily and quickly relocate somewhere else.
  • Its a cost effective operation - 10 minutes work per car... with water, soap, manpower, electricity & their location being their overheads.
Could this mantra be applied to new and existing expressions of church? I think so... or should I say... I hope so!

A church is, afterall, a group of likeminded, Jesus-focused people. It is not the building or the infrastructure... certainly not an obscene campus costing $163 million like the First Baptist Church in Dallas or even the country called The Vatican.

So then... if we were to keep it simple by focussing on people and not infrastructure... what would this mean? It would mean a group of people whose motives were easy to understand... who were open and easy to interact with... where the content of these interactions wasn't complicated or complex.

It wouldn't be about programme but about coming together... belonging would be easy because we would already be part of the community (space or interest) in which we were situated... our existing friendship would be enhanced as a result of this additional dimension... albeit it wouldn't be reduced if those of our community did not wish to be part.

We wouldn't need to translate... because the language we would use is the common tongue of the community. We wouldn't need to commute because we'd already be there... or at least within reach.

Nothing is simpler than opening your house... putting food on the table and opening your door.

What about agile? What if we were able to meet the needs of the communities that we participate in... in a quick and nimble manner? Where we could "move with the times" without the sense of lethargy that comes from an allergy to change? Where we had the sense of empowerment and the "permission" to act... so we could actually meet these needs?

Lastly... what about cost effective? Surely the church should be showing an example... an alternative... to those not yet part of the church about cost control... where the church only spends what they have... where debt isn't part of the equation? I suppose we could "own" property and they rent it out to the "community"... but then we could always seek to reuse existing property... we could share or rent too.

As for resources... we could all contribute what we have... you bring the Cafetiere and I'll bring the coffee... come to my place. We don't need expensive programmes and models but a willing heart and the spark of creative imagination. Think open source. Think freeganism. Think house church. There are already alternatives to cost that could be utilised effectively.

So yeah... I think... hope... believe... it is possible for church to be simple... agile... and cost effective.


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