Tag Archives: impact

Building up community is like weaving a basket

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  A while ago God gave me an image of church needing to be like weaving a basket.

 The vertical ‘spokes’ which create the initial framework of the basket are like church structures.  They are essential but not enough.  They give the outline shape of the basket but of themselves do not create a basket that can be used. They also have gaps between them, so just like this it is not a strong vessel. This includes the hierarchy/leadership of a church.  It is vital as the backbone of the church but without the weaving is insufficient.

 It is the weaving in and out, under and over the spokes which then creates the vessel which creates the basket shape, the true structure of the basket. Only when the weaving is in place can a basket be used for carrying things.  There is a big emphasis these days on church leadership and training up leaders and this is important. However the ‘ordinary’ folk have as essential role to play in developing a church community as the leaders. It is the weaving on a basket which holds the spokes in place. The spokes on dependent on the weaving not the other way around.

 The basket maker weaves the horizontal strands very close together so that they touch.  This gives it strength and durability.  From a distance you don’t see the individual strands, you only see the finished object.  Those of us ‘ordinary’ folk in church have a role to play in being woven in and out of one another’s lives.  We are not to rely on the leadership for it all to happen but look for our places.  Often we look for our role to play in church life, yet we may have multiple roles to play, living as in a Venn Diagram in overlapping circles being involved in several activities and touching different lives in each.

 At home I have a log basket.  It is starting to fray at the top where some strands have come loose and broken off. Because it is looking a bit tatty, I keep saying that when it falls apart I will get a new one but the overall structure is so strong that it is still going and I am nowhere nearer to getting a new one.  BUT the bits on the top edges have snapped off.  Because they were at the edge they were most vulnerable to coming loose.  Folk who are at the centre of a community have plenty of strong bonds to keep them there, but those who are at the edges (for whatever reason and there are many) are in danger of drifting loose and being snapped off. Therefore, we need to take special care of them.

Basket weaving is very labour intensive.  We live in a world full of labour saving devices and we are forever on the look out for ways to take shortcuts and make our lives easier.  But building up community and relationships is labour intensive and takes time.  The front cover of our church newsletter this week included this section:

 Pastor Evans … gave me this time.  I remember long hours sitting and talking in his study surrounded by books.  Over those early years there were a number of people who took me seriously, and through those conversations I came out wanting to love God more and serve Him better.

 Building up community takes time. It will include lots of interactions and conversations for which you cannot ‘justify’ the inordinate amount of time taken, and in our world of striving to manage every minute of our day, much time will seem to be wasted. Yet looking at Jesus’ life you hardly hold him up as someone who managed his time well. A 1st C time management consultant would have mapped out a far more efficient route which would have covered a lot more ground, taking in far more ‘large’ and ‘important’ places and people in the three years that Jesus spent on his ministry. But Jesus listened to his Father because he ‘wasted’ hours in prayer, so he knew where to go today and who needed he needed to meet with.

 So how do we weave ourselves in and out of each others lives?

  The One Another Scriptures

love one another (John 13:35 – this command comes 16 times)
be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10)
honor one another above yourselves (Romans 12:10)
live in harmony with one another (Romans 12:16)
build up one another (Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:11)
be like-minded towards one another (Romans 15:5)
accept one another (Romans 15:7)
admonish one another (Romans 15:14; Colossians 3:16)
care for one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)
serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2)
forgive one another (Ephesians 4:2, 32; Colossians 3:13)
be patient with one another (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:13)
be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32)
speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19)
submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21, 1 Peter 5:5)
consider others better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3)
look to the interests of one another (Philippians 2:4)
bear with one another (Colossians 3:13)
teach one another (Colossians 3:16)
comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13)
stir up one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
show hospitality to one another (1 Peter 4:9)
employ the gifts that God has given us for the benefit of one another (1 Peter 4:10)
clothe yourselves with humility towards one another (1 Peter 5:5)
pray for one another (James 5:16) confess our faults to one another (James 5:16)
Be honest with one another (Col. 3:9)

Why?

We are to do these things because we belong to one another (Romans 12:5; Ephesians 4:25).

 

How do you measure impact?

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 This time last week was my dad’s funeral. As you can imagine it was a very moving experience but the thing that most amazed me of all was how many people were there. My dad was a quiet, introverted man whose idea of fun was going over the allotment come rain or shine, or hours in the attic building and rebuilding his model railway (though lately he had discovered the joys of eBay). My mum is the gregarious one of the two. She is always out and about either lunching with old school friends, on some committee or planning her next exotic holiday abroad. So much so, that if I wish to talk to her then I have to almost make an appointment. My dad it seemed didn’t have much of a social life – watching football with a neighbour and the weekly game of bridge with his cronies.

 So I was astounded when 130 people turned up last week to pay their last respects.

 As I got to talking to these people, many of whom I had never met before, I was struck by how my dad had made a lasting impact on their lives in seemingly little ways: a bag of runner beans there, a tip about how to grow onions there, hints on how to improve at bridge.

 What also transpired that this gentle man had a very dedicated work ethic and words like integrity and honesty, which you don’t hear much of today, were used.

 My dad was not a particulary hands on dad nor given to displays of affection, but that day I realised that he has left me something incredibly valuable: a role model of decency and how to make a difference in small ways. This is a big lesson for me. At the moment I know that I have this desperate need to feel that my life is worth something and that when it comes to be my turn to leave this earth that I would have made some positive impact somewhere. Seeing the need globally with daily disasters on our TV screens it is hard not to feel ineffective. But hearing about my dad I came to think that maybe what I had previously rated as greatness and impact were misguided. Jesus talked about giving out of a servant heart and in secret. So maybe sharing allotment tips and doing your best at work day in day out are as valuable as ‘the big things’ if done with the right heart.

  All my life I have been throwing small pebbles into a large pond and I’ve no idea whether I made even the slightest ripple.  I don’t need to worry about that.  My responsibility was the effort.
-Martha Gellhorn.