What is cheesecake?
So you probably have some slightly different recipes for coming up with cheesecake, but at the end of the day you will be eating cheesecake!!! You know what cheesecake is, right?
I hear little snippets along the way which lead me to the conclusion that some don’t know what cheesecake is, so let me tell you!
1) What is radical?I have heard that said a few times. For want of colourful language, are we thick? It means “thoroughgoing change from accepted traditions”. Did you think it might have something to do with religious extremism? Geeza break! When God decided to sort out the world, did he send an army or a leader who would dictate, or did he come whooshing out the clouds and establish all authority over earth? No. He did something quite radical. He came to earth as a baby, born in dodgy circumstances, poor as get out. When Jesus, amongst many other things, preached the Sermon on the Mount, was he not turning things upside down? You have heard it said an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but now I tell you to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. Jesus was radical. Jesus is radical. And still some ask, what does radical mean? The call for radical action in our Church is because we have forgotten what it means to be radical. When Jesus says, “Follow me”, it is a call to a radically different life. When we are seeking to make disciples today surely we are still asking people to live radically different lives? So if you don’t know what radical is or you don’t like the word radical, get over yourself and eat some cheesecake!
2) What is success?I have heard that said a few times. Success is a word that has been introduced by some who, in my opinion, don’t want to face the challenge to be radical. It is said we are called to be faithful not successful. In actual fact, I agree. We are called to be faithful, faithful followers of a radically different leader. The call to be radical and the call specifically for a radical action plan is NOT a guarantee of success and NOT a guarantee of growth. It is simply calling the Church back to its radical roots in Jesus and following him into the unknown. Any growth we hope and pray for is in God’s hands. We simply plant and water. And do our best with what we have. Can we say we are doing our best in congregation, Presbytery and national Church? Or is it time for radical reform?
3) Can we save the Church?A call for a radical action plan is NOT a call to save the Church as we know it as an institution, no matter how long we’ve been in the Church of Scotland and no matter how much we love it. We seek reform of our structures in order to serve the local Church which is where the real change can take place. I would love to see the Church of Scotland once again become a beacon of light for Scotland, not because we saved it as an institution, but because we reformed it as a movement.
4) Can ministers still take their stipend?Only you can answer that one for yourselves. If we ignore the opportunity to change the structures of which we are all part and concentrate only on doing our own thing in our own corner, have we not already become congregational, or independent but still paying the subs to support an archaic system? Either way, where is our integrity? Do we still take a stipend because our folk in the Church are paying enough to cover our wages and we’re serving them well so we can accept our pay because essentially it’s coming from them? Are we not wasting the hard earned money of our folk supporting a structure that is well past its sell-by date and yet seem happy to see the money head down the drain instead of trying to reform and use our gifts more wisely? Some say, “it’s not all about bums on seats”, which is true, but who is paying your wages? And who will pay your wages when the money runs out? Should ministers be getting a job?
5) What is Church?So many assume that when we talk about Church we are talking about the Church of Scotland, but it’s bigger than that, would you believe? The Church is wherever people are following Jesus. That may be within Church buildings and Church institutions but it is also most definitely outwith these for God’s mission field is the whole of the world and God’s Spirit is moving all over it, weaving through peoples lives. I was at a conference last weekend entitled “Re-imagining Church” led by Sanctuary First. You should have been there. It wasn’t about re-imagining an institution but about re-imagining what it means to follow Jesus in today’s world.
Cheesecake. It’s not rocket science. Make it, or don’t. It’s up to you.
Coming soon…a radical plan.