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In The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote:
“I am looking for someone to share in an adventure that I am arranging, and it’s very difficult to find anyone.’ I should think so — in these parts! We are plain, quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty, disturbing, uncomfortable things. Make you late for dinner!”
Now that I have lived for over 5 decades, I realise that there is a propensity in the human spirit to seek comfort over challenge, rest over risk and quiet before quest. What if a certain ploy of the enemy is to shut down our adventurous spirit; to limit our mission capacity and retain us within the safety of the church facilities we occupy? ‘Never’ I hear you say, but my sense is we live in perilous times and we must respond!
As we approach the 100th Anniversary of the ANZACs at Gallipoli we quite rightly pause to remember and reflect on the sacrifice, courage and willingness of so many younger Australians who ventured forth, ready to defend the liberties and freedom we all experience.
But is the world changing, perhaps getting more uncertain, violent and unpredictable? Most certainly so. And so, it behoves the church to make disciples who will mobilise beyond comfort into the outmost regions, bringing truth, values and a kingdom message that’s radically transformational. This is our God-given adventure. The global status of our world should precipitate important dialogue and action from the church at all levels. There is a timely conversation for church leaders with respect to our ‘discipleship’ environments. Soldiers who prepare for combat don’t sit in classrooms studying the manuals of engagement; they practice, train and are deployed into new territory and environments constantly.
New research this year from the Christian Research Association suggests that “more than 50,000 young people each year are leaving the Christian faith and deciding that they have ‘no religion’.” This is a crisis for the church.
How do we encourage young people and young adults to follow Jesus and use their lives for kingdom purposes? Answer – we model for them a church that embodies the spirit of adventure. Young people simply don’t want to sit in church buildings and listen, they need to be captivated by the adventure of following Jesus.
“It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything an everyone.” (Eph 1:11-12 The Message). Glorious living – embracing the spirit of adventure.
Dr Andrew Ball
Executive Ministry Director