Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Ice-Bucket Challenge for the Church

Having just returned from the sunny shores of western France, I am sitting in my office shivering, looking up through the tiny window and all I can is a mass of grey rain. Not sure if you got away this summer but hope you had some chance to slow down and enjoy some good weather. Having periods throughout the year when we deliberately slow down are really important for us physically, mentally and spiritually and I loved being able to do that as God made me lie down in green pastures (literally -I was camping!). However we slowed down so much we missed the ferry home and had to spend an unplanned night in the Dieppe Ferry port! Watch and learn people. Incidentally, children cope with this so much better: we adapted and played cards and slept on the floor in our sleeping bags, and when we got home our daughter said, 'next time when we come home from France can we miss the ferry again?'

Having a break form the constant stream of news was also great, but then of course you come home and catch-up with what has happened: the ice-bucket challenge having totally passed me by. The speed with which this new fund raising trend spread is phenomenal and churches could learn a lot from it. No, I'm not saying that we need to dump a bucket of ice over the minister before we take up an offering on Sundays! And we'd have to navigate the whole wet T-shirt side of it too. But rather how something like that spreads: like wildfire.

A clue to its potency is found in the subject of my holiday reading (couldn't resist another reference to holiday - sorry) - the latest best seller from Dan Brown: Inferno which, without giving everything away ... potential spoiler alert ... is centred around a potential bio terrorist attack. Airborne viruses spread so fast because they multiply rapidly and are then sneezed from the host into the air, only to be breathed in by the next person, who incubates the virus, multiplies it and continues the cycle by sneezing out. In a short space of time, millions can be infected. The Ebola virus in West Africa is so dangerous because of the power of an airborne virus to multiply and spread.

So why did the ice bucket challenge spread so fast, and so too the previous one with nomakeup selfies? Because each time a new person was sent the challenge to become part of it, they were asked as part of the challenge, to nominate other people: you film yourself having a bucket of ice poured over you, make a donation and send the video to other people you nominate to do it as well. Biologically speaking it's the replication factor: each new life contains the ability to reproduce a new life, several times over, so exponential growth occurs. Sociologically its the 'pass-it-on' factor. Here';s the new thing, get involved, and pass it on. Spiritually speaking its the DNA of the gospel of Jesus Christ: become a disciple of Jesus and pass it on so that more people become disciples. Then those disciples get the 'pass-it-on' gene and keep passing it on too ... exponential growth.

All it needs to stop is the 'pass-it-on' gene to be left out and you get  anew generation of people who don't replicate and the movement grinds to a halt, or slows to a snails pace. Hm, sounds familiar? What we're doing here at MBC is recapturing the real DNA of the kingdom that Jesus is King of, and spiritually it's as hard as doing it biologically. However, God's power is made perfect in our weakness, so we know it's not about us but all about him, and if we stay close to him, being filled with his DNA, his heart, his power, his love, then we can become the movement he started with those 12 ordinary people he called his disciples.

By the way: when you've read this ... you know what I'm gonna say?

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