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Pursuing the clock or the lost?

by on September 1, 2010

Just attended a meeting with Steve Timmis from the Crowded House mob in the UK. He was challenging us to live in real community with each other. Scarey stuff!

So much of our talk here about mission has been about relationships. Yet this an area in which we are notable weak. As mainly anglo, Aussie evangelicals, we suffer from relational incompetence of historic proportions (especially the blokes amongst us!). Think of these indexes:

  • how many of our neighbours do we know?
  • how often do we have someone from church over for a meal?
  • how often do we have someone from our street over for a meal?
  • how many people apart from immediate family do we enjoy significant community with (e.g., see socially more than once a week)

I’m embarrassed to give my own stats for these indexes. So I won’t!

But surely a big part of our problem is our lifestyle of general busyness. Relationships take time. You have to spend, and indeed waste, large amounts of time with people to get close to them. We are so time poor, we don’t feel we can do that. So we never get close.

Think about how many of your encounters end because one or both parties have something else they have to move on to. Invited for a coffee or a chat, we screw up our faces, giving a clear message that we really don’t have time, and at best we might say, ‘Well, just a quick one.’

It often happens that I drive past the street where some dear friend lives, a friend I’d love to visit. But I never stop. I just drive on by. Why?? Because I’m already late to whatever I’m supposed to get to! I often walk past someone on the street who’s begging for money, but I almost never stop to talk to them. It’s not that I’m afraid – I’d be happy to have a chat. It’s just that I’m in a hurry! No time today. It strikes me that our whole lives are like that – so filled up with busyness that we have little time to give to anyone. Certainly none to waste. Our diaries are booked up so far in advance, if you’re not in there, I haven’t got time for you. Random encounters or invitations go to the bottom of the pile. They just never make it into priority territory. And so the message is clear to everyone around us: ‘No time for you.’

This is a big problem for mission. The people in our neighbourhood who need to find out about Jesus through us, somehow never seem to turn up in our diaries. The don’t make appointments with us. Even when we go doorknocking, it’s easy to give the impression that we’re just there for a short, one-off visit. That’s as close as we’re able to come. We won’t be back next week. We’re not looking to make friends, thanks.

How can we pursue the lost effectively if we’re busy chasing the clock?

Ideas?

From → General

3 Comments
  1. Susannah permalink

    One possible solution for a start – read Tim Chester’s The Busy Christian’s Guide to Busyness. It’s not the answer to all of this, but it’s quite helpful in breaking down the real reasons behind the clock-driven, stress-driven, and (he suggests) often idol-driven existence in modern life. I’ve just read it this week, and am still digesting…

  2. Christian permalink

    Great thoughts, thank you.

    I think we’re going to have to do a lot of untangling of old habits for our church plant (and I’m as bad as anyone on this)

  3. Thanks Susannah, I’m going to go buy that book. As soon as I find time!

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