The Beverly Hillbilly Church (1)
written by Rev Gary Heard

A favourite television show of my early years was The Beverly Hillbillies, a situation comedy revolving around a peasant hillbilly family who strike it rich and move to Beverly Hills. Though amongst the wealthiest in the area, they live as though still on the land - eating, hunting, making their own supplies. Their humble lifestyle is subjected to the manipulations of their banker, who fears losing their custom, and seeks to stymie their every move in spending their wealth.

It is, in many ways, a metaphor for much of church life. Though we have the wealth of resources available to us from God, through the gifts and graces he bestows on his church, we live as though still bereft. And the resources we do have we treat as our own, rather than as stewards for all that God has given. We act like the man with the single talent, who buries it in the ground for fear of losing it… which he does in the end for failing to put it into use for his master.

As we contemplate the future ministry of this church, we need to develop a risk-taking mentality rather than a conservationist one. Without moving beyond the boundaries of our comfort, we are destined for death. The attitude we need to hold is not that of survival, but of growth – like the sower who sows his seeds in tears, realising that unless this crop succeeds, he is destined for poverty. The only real failure is the failure to try.

When we look at any single project or proposal, we might be able to think of many reasons it might not succeed. We can probably well articulate the challenges and threats it poses. Being a small church, the human resources available are inevitably limited. But we have no other calling, and no other option but to launch out in faith.

On the back page of today’s Advocate, I have outlined what I see as the key ministry opportunities before us at this time. I propose to explore these with a view to testing their viability. Will you join with me in prayer in testing these, and in remaining open to other options God might prefer us to pursue?

Jesus chose 12 and transformed the world. He has chosen us for a task not dissimilar – to be part of His transforming work in this community setting. The challenge before us is of no different order, and no different resourcing.

June 23, 2002
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