Thursday, 25 August 2016

Stories and journeys

Once again I had the privilege of leading the Pastoral Team at the Church of Scotland's National Youth Assembly. And, yet again, I've been blown away by the stories and journeys these young adults shared.
I've also been energised, encouraged and strengthened by their enthusiasm and passion.
This year we tackled some weighty topics - Gender Injustice, Mental Health and the Future of Ministries. 
Discussions and debates were filled with knowledge and experience and comducted with compassion and energy, inexhaustible energy. After long days, discussions and support carried on well into the night - and then, the next morning, after just a few hours rest, delegates were ready to do it all again - which is more than can be said for staff, although, somehow, the energy and enthusiasm of the young people was contagious - thankfully.
Today, I have an image in my mind of these young people back in their on contexts. Some will be missing the companionship. Some will be sharing the experience. Some will be viewing the church from a different perspective than before. Some will be discerning "What next" for their journey with God. All have been part of the story of NYA and now go to continue that story and to continue the unpredictable journey of faith. My prayer for each of them is that their journey has been enhanced by the experience of travelling together and that their stories are the richer for having shared the road of NYA.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Capturing is not enough!

Judge me if you must - but I am a fan of Pokemon Go! 
I eagerly awaited its launch in the UK and, ever since, have been happily capturing Pokemon and storing them. I regularly expanded my storage capacity to accommodate over 600 Pokemon. After all "Gotta Catch 'em all" is a tag line for the Pokemon franchise.
I've enjoyed discovering Pokestops at churches, monuments and places of historical interest. I even discovered some interesting facts about some of the places we visited in Paris this year - Pokemon provides details of Pokestops that can be more fun than official guide books!
This weekend, serving on the staff team at the Church of Scotland's National Youth Assembly, however, I discovered that capturing Pokemon is not enough!
There's more to it - much more to it, than simply capturing!
Pokemon have to evolve.
It's not enough to capture them and store them in an ever expanding facility - they have to evolve to the next (and subsequent) level.
And then, they are equipped for battle in Pokemon Gymns.
Pokemon evolve by being  fed Pokemon candy.
Evolving the Pokemon I have already captured has greatly reduced the number I have but has vastly increased their quality and resilience - simply by using the Pokemon candy I had in abundance
I know this is going to make me sound like a geek BUT that immediately struck me as a metaphor for the church.
Often, our goal seems to be capture. To reel folk in, to expand the facilities if necessary, (though that's rarely necessary these days) and to be happy that we've done our bit - When what is really required is to feed people and continue to feed them once they appear on our radar or cross the threshold of our church plants.
Faith is not the destination but just the start of a journey that requires nourishment.
As folk are fed, they grow in faith, they evolve. They become stronger, more equipped for the struggles of faith. And the resources for nourishment are abundant.
Today, I'm giving thanks for connections, physical and spiritual, made through Pokemon Go!

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