While on holiday, we met an old friend. She had been one of my church members in the circuit before last. I had trained her as a Methodist Local Preacher, and then supported her as she candidated for the ministry. Now she was the local minister in the town where we were staying.
It was a wonderfully happy reunion, and it was interesting to talk with her as a colleague in the ministry. We had so much more than ever before to talk about, and even more in common. She loved so much about being in the ministry, but one thing drove her mad. It does me, too. Meetings. For all the emphasis on the call to preach, care, lead, envision, pray and so on, the institutional side of church life often takes over. Those who hope to cast big picture visions find themselves weighed down by the minutiae of detail and micro-management. Well can I understand why the ‘new church’ leader Gerald Coates once parodied Jesus’ words, “I have come that they might have life and have it more abundantly” by saying, “I have come that they might have meetings and have them more abundantly.”
My conversation with my friend reminded me of an article I had found just before going away. Well known British businessman John Timpson wrote a response to a question, and he called it ‘Our meetings get in the way of any work being done‘. Timpson says,
I have a theory that the fewer meetings you have the better you do.
Is he right? I certainly smile at his illustration of the supermarket chain Asda having a meeting room with no chairs, to keep chat to a minimum. While I imagine there are echoes there of Privy Council meetings, I also have mischievous thoughts about our Church Councils being conducted that way.
What do you think? Is Timpson right?
Sally Coleman and I seem to be interested in much the same things right now. Not only have we both written about theology in the last couple of days, she has written about healing and now here am I doing the same.
We’ve just started running the DVD course ‘Letting Jesus Heal‘ from the Christian Healing Mission at Knaphill. Now before I go any further, I should make full disclosure and say that I have known John Ryeland, the director of the CHM, for a good number of years, and indeed went to school with his wife Gillian! So you can accuse me of bias if you like.
However, I want to commend this course enthusiastically, based on the first two weeks of the six. What I like about the teaching here is that John combines a faithful openness to the power of God to heal with a quiet, gentle approach. In style this is about as far removed as you can get from the hyped-up school of healing ministry so prevalent in some places. It is therefore both safe and ideal for introducing an expectancy that God will work in a context where people might be nervous of showmanship, noise or manipulation.
Not only that, one thing I deeply value about John’s teaching is that he opens people up to the belief and experience that God is speaking to us much more than we realise. How often do we think that God is not speaking to us, or just does not speak to us – especially in contrast to other Christians who, in the words many years ago of Gerald Coates, ‘have more words from the Lord before breakfast than Billy Graham has had in a lifetime’?
Eighteen months ago, I heard John give his teaching on ‘Encountering Jesus‘ and had a simple but profound experience of Christ in relation to some serious pain and disappointment in my life. It forms the second session of the healing course, and while I obviously cannot share any confidences, I know that a number of people heard Jesus speak to them on Wednesday night in the course.
If you are looking for something to encourage people in the area of Christian healing, then, I recommend you take a good look at this course. And if you’re not far from Knaphill, feel free to drop in on us next Wednesday at 8:00 pm.