This evening we are looking at the direction that the Bridge is heading in. We’ll be looking at an image of an eagle soaring in the sky and wondering about what that might mean for each one of us.
OUTLINE OF VISION FOR THE FUTURE
Where are we now?
0.5 equivalent paid leader (Tim)
0.5 equivalent paid youthworker (Joy on maternity leave)
0.5 equivalent paid associate leader (David)
6 hours of admin support each week
A committed team of over 30 people who help run the Bridge
Where are we aiming for?
A committed team of 40+ people
Raise Bridge giving from £10 500 to £26 000 per year over the next 4 years
One further fresh expression of church (40)
Youth discipleship programme (20-25)
Deeper discipleship (small groups)
More disciples (8-10 per year)
Growing the Bridge community to 150-200 people
Outline of vision
This all seems a long way off still and begs the question – how do we start?
After discussion, prayer and reflection Tim along with David, Joy and the Core Team think that the image of the eagle soaring in the sky, its two wings outstretched, balanced and graceful is the picture that God has given us as a community.
The two wings for our community at the moment are discipleship and outreach. Both have to be in balance and active. But what does this mean?
Well, within our community we are all on a journey exploring what God means to us and what God sees in us. Discipleship means that as a community we need to care for and nurture each other as we journey together. Exploring prayer, bible reading, healing, meditation, acts of service and so on are all aspects of us journeying together.
At the same time we must not lose sight of the fact that the reason this community exists is to provide a welcome and a home for those who would not normally go to church or would not expect to find answers to their questions there. Sometimes these people are called the unchurched. We must always challenge ourselves with the question – would this make it harder for someone to hear what God may be saying to them?
But it is not about choosing one over the other, indeed that I think has been the mistake too often within the wider Church and for individual Christians. The eagle will not fly if it does not beat with both of its wings. A bird with one wing stronger than the other will fly in circles or plummet to the ground. Our two wings as a Brdieg community must be to reach out to unchurched people at the same time as offering opportunities for a deeper discipleship for each existing member of this community. We don’t need to be sorted in our own lives before we can reach out to those around us who struggle to hear and see God at work in their lives, otherwise we would never start! And its OK for us to admit that at times we find it hard to hear and see God at work.
The picture of the eagle is used to good effect in Isaiah 40 where Isaiah writes that “those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles. They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.”
Over the next few weeks we will explore more of what Isaiah means in this chapter. The whole section of the Bible reading Isaiah 40: 27-31 reads as follows:
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob,
or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? God doesn’t come and go. God lasts. He’s Creator of all you can see or imagine. He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch his breath. And he knows everything, inside and out.
He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts. For even young people tire and drop out, young folk in their prime stumble and fall. But those who wait upon God get fresh strength. They spread their wings and soar like eagles, They run and don’t get tired, they walk and don’t lag behind.
Isaiah 40; 27-31 (The Message)
Just for background it would appear that there is a gap of 160 years between chapter 39 and 40 in the book of Isaiah. During that gap a lot of things happen as you might imagine. A new super power is created in the shape of Babylon, a good and wise king called Josiah dies and his sons bring about near anarchy with their foolishness. For the Hebrew people who have settled and made Jerusalem their home there has also been the massive destruction of Jerusalem. All that remains is a city in ruins and people deported to many places. Chapter 40 reflects a very different place for God’s people – they are now in a place of exile, of displacement and dispersement. From now on the book of Isaiah is focused on persuading God’s people to trust Yahweh, rather the superpower of Babylon.
Waiting, waiting, waiting!
In particular this evening I would like us to focus just briefly on the first verse of this section from Isaiah. Its chapter 40, verse 27 for those who want to look at it again this week.
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
This may be a question that is common for many of us. In our words today, it may be “Why me?”. “they’re good people – they didn’t deserve this”, “nothing goes right for me”, “ I’m powerless in this situation”, “its all out of my control”
It may be that as we think about our own journey with God we judge that because of the situations we face that God does not exist, or does not care, hasn’t noticed or isn’t able to do anything.
Or it may be that as we think chatting with friends and family about our journey with God that we fear they will think that He does not exist, or does not care, hasn’t noticed or isn’t able to do anything.
Or we are worried that we have to have it all sorted out and to have answered all of the tensions and questions.
The image of the eagle soaring helps to lift us so that we can imagine life out beyond the world we currently live in. That we can see a bigger picture – one that offers hope and compassion.
But sometimes we have to wait. We have to wait to see what the future holds, we have to wait to see how God will act, we have to wait to see how people will respond.
I think there are two types of waiting though. One where we give up, do nothing, sit back, sometimes even forget. The second is where we continue to remind God of what we’re waiting for, where we keep looking to see where God might be at work, are there small steps along the way that he’s prompting us to take.
Waiting, waiting, waiting! – not a popular message, not one likely to win a lot of friends, but as we continue to explore what it means to be God’s community so we must hold onto that image of the eagle flying, wings outstretched, balanced and graceful. As we live with the tension that God does not always seem to act in our timescales we must still hold in balance the two wings that will help us to fly.
For those not yet part of this community or the wider Christian community – there is a invitation to explore the possibilities with God.
Reaching unchurched people – this is the Bridge’s DNA, it is what we have always been about. We believe it to be our ‘heartbeat.’
Deeper Discipleship – as Christians within our community grow and mature then we will need to pursue a deeper discipleship. This is not about knowledge but is about wisdom, it is not about counting the angels on a pin head but a deep commitment to life in creation.
For disciples of Jesus (and that means wherever we are on that journey) – they become a mandate for a deeper relationship and reliance on God, it allows for a profound questioning of God, of enjoyment in the life of His creation, it means a 24/7 approach to that journey, its our life at work, at home, at play, at church.