Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dreaming about my ideal church...

I went to the St John Ambulance Area AGM tonight. I was there really in two capacities. I am Workplace Support chaplain to St John and my wife is a volunteer with them as a Friend of the Emergency Department. They had an award ceremony after the AGM and Jean and 34 other people received badges or medals for service rendered. What struck me was the breadth of the organisation and its ethos. It is an organisation there to serve the community. It has a whole lot of branches to it. There are the Ambulance services, going out to medical and accident emergencies. There is a transport role for ambulance. There are the "Community Events" volunteers who turn up at sports events and the like and provide First aid. There is the education area a group providing First Aid training for workplaces and community groups. There is the alarms for elderly people. There are the Hospitalers, mostly older women who do things to raise funds for a hospital in Jerusalem, for the organisation and for community groups...such as the Night Shelter Trust. And there is the youth and child training areas. ... and others. All practicing the motto in their service... "First to Care."

As I sat there I thought that would be the structure of my "Ideal Church". First it would not be worship centred, as if worship were its main function. It would be service centred, seeing itself as there to be servants to the community. People joining it would see themselves first and foremost as servants,(Not Church attenders or worshippers) in the community like their master. And it would have various branches of service and outreach into the community. Whatever worship we had would be seen as a springboard for action in the service functions of the community. Francis of Assisi said something like this; "Preach the gospel in season and out of season. If necessary, if you have to...use words." The church opts out of relevant service by having verbal diarrhea. It has reverted to words, doctrine and dogma because they are easier than truly being like Jesus.
(Photo: St. John Headquarters, Dunedin)

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