Monday 10 September 1984 will forever be etched on my brain. Nerves. Excitement. Uncertainty. It was my first day of school.
I stood in my short trousers and red jumper, with an impeccably coiffed side-parting (a style which was way ahead of its time!) I clung onto Mum’s hand with a myriad of questions. Who’ll be my friend? How will it work out? So it is with change. Potentially exciting. Often uncomfortable. Always necessary.
In reality that cloudy September day played a relatively insignificant role in my education. The emotions were on overload, but it was just one day. I had 17 more years to perfect the art of attending school. Some days were amazing; others not so great. Some were filled with euphoric success; others kick-in-the-teeth failure.
So it is with church. ChristChurch London has embarked upon the biggest change for years: multiplying from one Sunday location to four. Some of us are excited; others apprehensive. But in the midst of the chaos, allow me three observations.
First, whatever happens over the next few months – both good and bad – it’ll only play a small role in what we’ll accomplish. Real change comes through commitment and consistency – persevering for the long term. There’ll be wonderful successes and loads of mistakes. But if you stick around long enough, we’ll see amazing things happen.
Second, throw yourself in. That daunting 1984 day was far more bearable for me than my Mum – teary-eyed, watching me disappear into the unknown, returning to an empty house. Sure, for me it was scary, but I was in the thick of it. Likewise, amidst the changes, it’s far better to be right at the heart of what’s going on. Join a Serving Team, get involved in a Connect Group, find someone who needs help and offer them support.
Third, enjoy community! When I think back to my first day of school, I don’t remember the lessons, the lunch, or the homework. I remember the people: Mark Tarver, Jonathan Phillips, Elizabeth Gray (my first crush!) I remember the first person that said “hi!” and showed me their Panini ‘84 football stickers. I remember the patience and kindness of my teacher Mrs Tweddle. That’s what made it so special.
When I look back on church in years to come, I doubt I’ll remember technical failures, recruitment stresses, or the moments people groaned at my Lord of the Rings quotes. I’ll remember the most incredible church family of which I’ve ever been a part. So enjoy community, have someone round for dinner, buy someone a coffee, show them your Panini 2016s!
School wasn’t always fun. It was often hard work. But it changed my life forever. Why not stick around with us for the next 17 years?! Church might do exactly the same for you.