So I watched Sister Act last night with my housemate Beth (she is immense...and has only just worked out that she features in my blog - love her). I love that film. There are many reasons but one has got to be Whoopi Goldberg and her amazing wigs. I can pretty much recite the lines in the film (and potentially do voices for the different nuns).
But one thing that really struck me while I was watching it was how the attitude of the Church hasn't changed much.
In the film the Church (St Catherine's) is totally isolated from the community. The nuns are kept "safe" by doing tasks inside the convent and they don't interact with their immediate neighbours. If we are honest some Churches are like this - they meet together and keep those members who are in the Church safe. Those members are fed and discipled and part of a community but it's safe.
Then along comes Delores Van Cartier aka Sister Mary Clarence. She makes things happen and before you know it the nuns are out painting walls, scrubbing grafitti, feeding the homeless, skipping with young people, running a daycare and interacting with people on the street. In other words, getting out there.
I really believe Churches are called to be out there. To be engaging with their communities. Nowhere in the Bible does it talk about Christianity being safe. In fact Jesus talks about dying to self and living for Christ. Jesus went to people. He didn't wait, he didn't only go for a specific outreach week, he went with genuine love to meet people who were broken, lost and hurting.
I look around my community and see many people who are broken, lost and hurting. As a Church our response shouldn't be to stay where it is safe. God is bigger you know. I forget it so much, that he can do more than I ask or imagine. Sometimes I reckon he is willing us to give him a chance, to take a risk and let him step in.
"We've been to the moon and back but struggle to cross the street and greet a new neighbour" - Dalai Lama
It is easy to blame "the Church" as an organisation - but lets be honest - I am part of the Church, and maybe you are too. It is our responsibility to be people who take those steps out into the community. It doesn't need to be a huge step - maybe just a little one, like saying hi to a neighbour you don't know. But we need to start somewhere.
I want the Church to be known for all the things it is doing, not for all the things it's not doing. I know so many Churches that are doing this already, but I know for myself as an individual I need encouragement to keep going - to be a person who doesn't play it safe and just stay where I know people; but to take risks and be someone who loves the broken, lost and hurting.
Sister Act is lot deeper than I thought!