Why? How? What?
Why do we do the things we do in the way we do them?
I wonder what the most important part of the question is? Is it the things that we do? Is it the way that we do them? Or is it the why?
For me the ‘why’ is the most important part but it’s also the part that I fear we think about least.
I have this picture on my whiteboard to remind me.
As a church, both in the local and the larger scale, we are known for what we do and how we do it. So, at St Ninian’s when I ask about who we are the answers might be ‘friendly’ or ‘hospitable’ or ‘welcoming’. The how and the what of that look like weekly coffee mornings and the Guild and the Boys’ Brigade and Girls’ Brigade and hosting the Hope Cafe and the Folk Club. As far as worship goes we have a pretty standard hymn/prayer service with a sermon in the middle, and morning prayers on Monday and Thursday and Night Church through the darker winter months.
Those are good things. They are our ‘doing’ church.
But what do they say about ‘why’ we do or are church?
Making a case for being ‘friendly’, ‘hospitable’ and ‘welcoming’ is pretty easy. Loving you neighbour surely involves putting the kettle on. But friendly to whom? Hospitable to whom? Welcoming to whom? Do we just put the kettle on for people we know? Do we bake just for our friends?
We’ve actually been talking about our ‘Why’ at St Ninian’s for a year now. We started the day I started. That’s what all the questions are about. That’s what all the ‘so, you think this is about this… but what if it is about that…?’ has been for. To help us think about what we believe and about why we believe it. A safe space to be free to think and question and doubt and change our minds and play with new ideas and keep some of them and throw other ones away.
Over the past few weeks we’ve been looking at the 10 Commandments. I’ve suggested that they might be our high level strategic plan because they tell us how we should relate to God, how we should relate to each other and what it means to be fully ourselves. These 10 words from God create a space for all of us to be free.
All of us.
Not just some of us.
All of us…
Free from fear. Free from violence. Free from worry.
I wonder if creating that kind of space is our ‘why’?
And if it is our ‘why’ then surely that pushes us out beyond what we do now to bring that freedom to more and more people.
The next question is ‘how’? How do we know who we are dealing with? How do we make contact and build relationships? How do we choose our priorities? How will we work? Will we do things for people or should we do things with people?
And only then, once we have worked out our ‘why’ and our ‘how’ do we think about the ‘what’.
What will we do? What will we need? What will it look like and smell like and taste like and sound like and feel like?