When I was growing up, I remember the Clash used to sing, “Should I stay or should I go?” It’s a question every minister should ask of himself from time to time. It’s very easy to assume that staying put is the best option, or conversely, that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.
Some time ago I went to the opticians. To my surprise I found I could no longer read clearly the last couple of lines on the chart. I was prescribed reading glasses, and since then I have found reading far less of a strain.
Last week I also went on a visit which made things clear. I was looking at another church to see if I was called to serve there. But in fact those two days away helped to clarify that God was calling me to stay where I am for a while longer. All kinds of factors have led to that realisation. But it certainly makes ministry less of a strain when you know you are called to the place where you are meant to be.
It is, I recognise, easy when you are ministering in the same location for any length of time to slip into routine, and carry on doing things just as you have always done, because it is the easier option. That is how long-term ministry can stagnate, and the church cease to be relevant to today’s fast-changing world. So just as the Lord has surprised me by calling me to stay, I hope I am also open to Him leading and directing me in new and unexpected ways. And beyond all that, for all of us, I hope that we are open to the future that He has to our churches – whatever that might be!
Some words from Isaiah 43:18-19 which seem very appropriate at this point:
18 Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.
May this be God’s word to us this Advent and beyond.