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Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Yesterday's methods don't work as well today!

I've been watching some athletics on the T.V. I was particularly interested in the pole vault. Attention was being given to the special pit into which the vaulter could place the end of the pole. He was using a flexible, probably carbon-fibre, pole with an amazing 'springiness'. He was wearing tight-fitting clothing that would have cut down air resistance. He had a very deep foam base on which to land - presumably providing increased confidence in the knowledge that no bones were likely to be broken.

I thought of some other sports, and the ways in which equipment has improved, dramatically, over recent years. A team of Dutch cyclists had spent the night camped beside us. Their cycles had very narrow tyres, and very light frames. They were each wearing skintight-fitting clothing, and a helmet that would provide greater confidence of limited injury in the case of a fall. I recalled reading that champion cyclists ride machines that have carbon-fibre frames, and spokeless wheels that are so narrow one could almost shave using the edges!

It made me wonder if the constant breaking of records has, in some sports at least, as much to do with improvements in equipment design and technology as with the actual physical fitness, and prowess, of the athlete involved! And I realised that no modern athlete would continue to compete in, e.g., knee-length flapping shorts, and with a fairly rigid pole for the pole vault. Anyone who did would certainy be unlikely to break any records!

My thoughts turned to the Body of Christ - the Church on earth. I thought of the exploits of people like Paul - travelling around so much of the Mediterranean world of his day, on foot, or by small wooden-hulled ship, in a long flowing robe. I thought of the writing that he accomplished - by hand (or, at least, by the hand of his amanuensis/secretary), on parchment, with home-made ink. I thought of later disciples of Jesus - of Hudson Taylor in China; of Clive of India; of Mary Slessor in Africa; of David Brainard in North America; of countless others who risked life and limb in the most diffcult circumstances - who carried the Good News of the salvation that is available in Jesus, the Christ, to the uttermost parts of the earth.

They achieved much, with limited resources, low technology, poor transport. And what of today?! Even where the church is seeking to continue to fulfil the Great Commission (Matt.28:18-20 - and never leave out v.18!), is it not true that so many do so using last century's technology? "Let's have a mission! We'll invite a well-known (to Christians!) Christian speaker, and we'll hold meetings every night from Monday to Friday, at 7.30p.m. We'll put out 5,000 invitation leaflets in a massive door-to-door exercise, and we'll place an advert in the local newspaper."

Sixty, fifty, even forty, years ago that would probably have been a wonderful way in which to propagate the Gospel. People didn't live in centrally-heated, fully-insulated, homes with 24/7 television displayed on 54" plasma screens; broadband internet connections; DVD players; electronic games - and with a car outside to transport them to visit friends, or just down to the local pub, in relative comfort, even in the foulest of weather conditions.

Today, that's the sort of competition that the church faces! Not in every case. I know. There are many families in which the picture that I have just painted is only a dream. But for a vast number, the thought of going to a church building, to listen to even the most gifted of speakers talk for forty minutes in between the singing of songs that are meaningless to them - yes, even the majority of the best of modern songs that I love to sing! - among people who, if my experience of visiting some congregations/fellowships is any guide, totally ignore them anyway, is about attractive as the thought of using the clothing, equipment, and technology of the 1950s would be to a modern athlete.

That is one reason why I maintain this blog site. I actually reach more people in an average week here, than do many clergymen in a church setting! And, of course, although I have my regular, and faithful, visitors (for whom I am very grateful); and although a fair number of people have set up an RSS feed so that each post goes directly to their e-mail Inbox (and they, also, are very much appreciated), I also have a considerable number of visitors who simply find the blog through a search-engine when they are seeking information on a particular topic that I have placed as a key-word for a post. And some of them become regular, and valued, visitors - and even 'followers'!

I find it interesting to speculate on what the top athletes of a former age might have achieved if they had had access to today's sporting technology. I find it even more interesting to speculate as to what Paul, or any of the other great missionaries and church leaders of the past, might have achieved if they had had access to today's communications technology!

May the church as a whole - and not just the few honourable exceptions - use the technology that the Lord has provided, to effectively spread the Gospel message in a technological age, that many might hear, and believe; and that the Day of His return might be hastened. When the Lord Jesus told His disciples that they would be "fishers of men", I'm certain that He expected them to use appropriate bait!

1 comment:

CannuckCol said...

Glad your title has the two words "as well" in it, as they STILL work. Our church just finished a "Help" programme (Vacation Bible School with some 'help' from neighbouring churches in S.W. Ontario as well as others from the far away as California) In the week we saw 90 souls from age 7 up to teenage saved. This was all done with the means you described at the end of your 5th paragraph WITH, of course, countless hours spent in prayer.