25th July 2003
Then on the last Sunday of August (31st), we're going to re-launch, and from then on we'll be meeting at Highgate Woods school. That was a hard decision to make, because there are real disadvantages as well as advantages. We want to be up front about that, so that everyone can understand why we're doing what we're doing.
Disadvantages of meeting in a school hall compared with Bar Rocca:
But we feel those disadvantages are more than outweighed by the advantages:
We recognise that in some respects, this is a backwards step. We've been very keen in the last two years on making everything we do accessible to visitors, maybe sometimes at the expense of our own core members. We feel that now is the time to redress that balance while still remaining as visitor-friendly as we possibly can.
This move also represents a breaking away from maybe having been a little too image-conscious over the last few years. We do want to do things in a way that appeals to people, but we need to avoid getting into a mindset where we think that what will ultimately attract people to the church is our slick presentation rather than the power of God. Meeting in a school should cure us of any such tendency!
There's another way to see this move, and that's as ``fishing on the other side of the boat''. See Luke 5:4-6:
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ``Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.'' Simon answered, ``Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.'' When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.This church has ``worked hard all night'' for three years without catching a lot of fish; now we feel it's a good time to try something different, and hope we land where God's blessing is.
Finally, in moving away from an externally attractive venue like Bar Rocca, the church as a whole is humbling itself. And that's a key part of the successful-prayer equation in 2 Chronicles 7:14:
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
We want to be absolutely clear in our minds that we are ultimately depending not on nice venues and well-designed publicity to draw people into the church, and to make them stick; but we are depending on the power of God.
If you're reading a paper copy of this document, the soft-copy can be found at www.miketaylor.org.uk/xian/school.html