To football supporters this is a big weekend with two major local derby matches; I say, forget the big derby games, as I`1ve just visited the hot bed of football, the majestic BLACKWELL MINERS WELFARE club against Hinckley !!!!
I`ve always believed that local people and especially the local Minister should support the local football team, hence my following over the years of Consett, Eastwood Town, Oldham Athletic and my visits to Alfreton Town and Mansfield Town. Alongside this my dalliance with Derby County and Nottingham Forest. Some of these have been big clubs in the Premiership and others much smaller. Well, I think I`ve found the smallest………….about 20 people in attendance. There seemed to be more Hinckley Town staff than the total number of supporters.
And yet I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. I cannot say I`ve seen the most skilful, nor the most passionate; neither can I say that the ground was spectacular (unique, certainly !) and I cannot say that the pitch was like a bowling green. However, what I can say is that those in the crowd were friendly, the chap in the refreshment cabin was welcoming and I thoroughly enjoyed myself, as did Dad and Rebecca. (By the way the 20 people included us……….)
It makes me wonder if it’s the same with Church………….. So often we assume success is about numbers and so we look at small clubs like Blackwell and take it for granted that they`re a failure instead of realising that in a small village like this the club is probably playing to its full potential. Many churches, especially in small villages, will only have a limited number of people they can reach and will naturally remain small. It doesn`t mean they`ve failed; if anything it may mean they`re more succesful than the big mega churches we read about.
The important thing is people realising the purpose of church. This afternoon the purpose was to enjoy a game of football, hopefully win, but largely to try ones hardest. Blackwell Miners Welfare is never going to be in the Premiership but their purpose in life is to produce football and this they did. The purpose of church is twofold; firstly it is to produce disciples who will commit their lives to following Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. A part of this involves Bible Study, Worship, Fellowship and a commitment to regular prayer. In this way we get to know Jesus better and what he expects of us. Secondly, it is to reach out beyond the church walls to other people so that they may see something of Christ in us and desire to become disciples also. In my present circuit (Borders Mission Circuit) our mission statement is quite simple:- To know Christ and to make Christ known.
It sums up the reason for our existence as Christians and as Church. We exist in order to know Christ better and to make him known to others, and this purpose does not depend on size for I`ve known huge churches who have become so preoccupied with their worldly status that they`ve relegated Christ to second place and I`ve known small churches for whom money and maintenance has become their god. At the same time I`ve known many churches who truly have placed Christ first and he is invited into every one of their meetings and he is allowed to guide their thoughts and actions. THAT is success as far as I`m concerned.
Will I go back to see Blackwell Miners Welfare again ? The answer is YES, because they made me welcome and because I believe the Church should be in the community and this is one of doing it. They succeeded in their aim, and may God help my churches to do the same.