Saturday, July 01, 2006

Taking the Red Pill

I love the Matrix movies, yes all three of them. The first was so strong, with a stunning central idea that was mindblowing in its simplicity and consequence. the other two were less powerful, but nonetheles thought-provoking and engaging. I often find myself using scenes from the films as metaphors, and here I am, starting a blog with one.

Neo's choices were to either take the blue pill and go back to living like he had before, ignorant of the truth and unaware of the alternative reality on offer, or to take the red pill, and to go on a journey, the final destination of which is unsure, but will involve enlightenment, a new reality and a sense of mission and purpose.

I hope it's not melodramatic to suggest that i feel a little like Neo.

I'm Jon, Jonathan, Rev, Pastor. Associate Minister at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Northampton. It's a good solid Baptist Church, and my time here has been fruitful and the church has (I hope) been blessed by the emphasis that I have brought, this has been particularly seen in the whole area of community devlopment and development of youth ministries.

In autumn last year (2005) my senior colleague and I began discussing how we could help the church through a period of transition. He's due to retire in spring 2008, and we wondered whether the right thing would be for me to stay and help the church as it found a new senior pastor, or whether i should prayerfully consider if God was leading me elsewhere, giving the church time to replace me and have a period of stability before another change.

I had originally come to this church to help them in the areas of evangelism and community development, but during my 5.5 yrs have become a generalist, taking a part in the full life of the church. I guess that I was probably looking for a church where i might spead my wings a little, perhaps be sole pastor, or a senior in a similar church to the one i'd be leaving.

But then, God sometimes has other ideas. One of the things I had been seeking in a church to work with was an openness to explore new forms of church, I wanted to find a place where it was OK to ask the question "If we didn't have 2,000 years of church history (although i praise God that we do), and all we had was this message about Jeus, in this contemporary culture, what would we do? would we do church, and if we did, what might it look like?" I also wondered if there was a way of raising a generation of believers who had in their very dna, as it were, the truth that change is always wih us. Is there a way of doing church, however that might look, that doesn't need traumatic, seismic changes every 15-20 years that threaten to bring the division and heartache that have become commonplace in the church?

An acquaintance of mine, senior minister at Bromley Baptist Church, has been asking similar questions, and the church he works for was beginning to consider who they might appoint to work with their young people and young adults. Upon hearing that I might be open to a move, he suggsted we have a conversation.

The result of all this (and thanks for bearing with the waffle thus far) is that God has called, and as a family we're uprooting, with all the attendant trauma, and moving south. I'm taking the red pill. I've decided that the ride will be worth it. Who, other than God, knows where this will lead? I'm certain that the next few years will see a lot of experimentation, and hopefully a lot of inspiration as the creative imagination is engaged with concrete experience. If you read this and you pray, then please pray for us. It will be hard for my wife, who will see change in almost every area as she and our son follow what together we believe to be God's call. We'd both thought that a move north, closer to family, would happen, this is the wrong direction in some ways! Pray for my son, that the change will be smooth for him, and that his wonderful, open, enquiring mind wouldn't be hurt. Pray for the churches involved, that as we leave one, and as we join another, that all together we'd know peace.

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