Rule Changes
written by Rev Gary Heard

I remember playing sports in the back yard with a bigger brother. Occasionally (though he would vehemently deny it) he would change the rules to improve the outcome for himself. I had two options: adjust to the new rules, or stop playing. Appeals to Mum or Dad were occasionally fruitful, but by-and-large it was adjust, or give up. A new reality was present which had to be factored in.

I was interested to read the explanation recorded in ‘The Sun’ on Friday June 1, 1962 when the closure of the original West Melbourne church building was reported. Rev Salter gave his reasons for the closure, blaming…

From its heyday in 1882, when the church community consisted of over 900 people, the church had dwindled in size to a point where it could no longer maintain the building.

Sadly, many churches still take the attitude of blaming the local community for the decline of the church. The rules of engagement have changed: no longer can the church simply pronounce from the pulpit and expect people to listen. More often than not, they are not even in the same conversation!
Author Len Sweet likens this change to a Tsunami, suggesting that a tidal wave of change has happened in the wider community, and the church can either be swamped by it, or seek to surf it: to recognise that the responsibility for sharing the good news of Jesus to the people about us is still our calling, and endeavour to make connecting points of ministry.

I’ve never been much of a surfer, but I’d rather fall off the board a few times and make a little progress than simply allow myself to drown in the tidal wave. Anyone want to join me for the ride?

March 17, 2002
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