But before we go too much further, let’s be clear t
hat there is nothing wrong with
busting out a few funky tunes. I live for the day that St Cuthbert’s rocks out on thrashmetal. And there’s nothing wrong with having fun, and community development, and
that’s why we’re going on cam
p together, and why I love goingaround to your houses for meals and good wine. The problem comes when -
as we’ve done since the rise of the consumer age –
weequate marketing with evangelism. When people merely showing up to events at achurch is considered a success, and when first third ministry is defined simply by thepresence or absence of a program or activity.If the outcome that we are seeking from first third ministry is the formation of people with a mature and active faith, then the practi
ce of ‘attracting’ has failed us. It’s failed
us because - and this is possibly the strangest sentence I have ever preached - we haveplaced our faith in the attractiveness of Darren and not in the attractiveness of Jesus.I put it to you that Jesus is inherently attractive - and particularly attractive to peoplein the first third of life. In a world in which climate change, global poverty and war arereal and immediate concerns
Jesus speaks of equity, compassion, for the poor andpeacemaking. In a society like ours in which the abuse of power, whether through workplace bullying or sexual abuse, is a real and immediate concern
the story of Jesus offers a way to make meaning about true power. In a culture where constantacquisition, meaningless sexual gratification and a monotonous self-interest are thenorm
the poverty, dignity and sacrifice of Jesus provide a desperately neededalternative.But who will tell people in the first third of life? Who will recount the story of Jesus?Who will invite them into a different way?
Darren ain’t gonna save us. Sunday School’snot gonna do it. Just being nice and kind and giving money to charity isn’t gonna do it.
At some point grown-ups
parents, neighbours, grandparents, friends
need to be
able to say ‘I’ve b
een serving a murdered Galilean peasant for forty, or seventy, orninety years, and I do not regret it. I want to invite you to follow him as well. I want totell you the sacred stories so that you can absorb them and pass them on to yourchildren and your
But the perceptive among you are already realising the problem. Before we can tellpeople in the first third of life about Jesus, and invite them to sign-up to hismovement, in order to share our dangerous stories and invite
person to join theadventure
we’ve got to be attracted to it ourselves. We’ve got to believe in it. And this
is, I suspect, the shadow lurking behind Darrenology. The reason that mainstreamAnglican churches are devoid of people in the first third of life i
s not because there’s
something wrong with the yoof of today.
It’s not because we lack the X
-factor or askate-
park. It’s because we are not, collectively, passionate enough about Jesus. As arule, we think he’s a terribly decent chap, a good bloke to have around, certainly
someone to worship. But when it comes to proclaiming and working for his kingdom
we’re slow, we’re distracted, it’s not entirely a priority.
It’s a hard truth to