I have been thinking more about the YFC Nomad team who travel the UK sharing their faith with young people through the medium of a cage in which two-a-side football is played. The cage fits into the back of a long wheelbase Ford Transit van, which has two rows of seats up front for the team to travel. The logo on the van doesn’t give much away. It doesn’t mention Jesus or church, just the touring football cage.This is in direct contrast to your typical church. Ours is set back from the pavement and there are a couple of noticeboards out front, with more by the side entrances. Most people walk past without any understanding of what church is, or what church does – unless there happens to be a funeral or a wedding taking place. We did have a small retail shop next to the church that allowed us to connect with local businesses and passing pedestrians, but that is about to close. I won’t go into the reasons here but it makes me sad that what we call The Common Room will soon have its doors as firmly closed as the church does for most of the week.
If the Nomad team drove around the UK and never got out of the van, believing that their witness to Jesus Christ should rely only on the logo, then Nomad would be a failure. The team have to get out of the van. They have to erect the cage, and they have to have conversations with people. The hours are long, especially when they have been working in a school all day, followed by a youth event in the evening. They regularly set off for a mission week early Monday morning and arrive home late Friday night, or even in the early hours of Saturday morning. But the joy on their faces speaks louder than their words. This is a work of mission that is keeping the name of Jesus alive in a society that only knows His name as a profanity.Church on the other hand appears to be a burial home for Jesus. If we are lucky we just about manage to maintain the status quo numerically. We fail to see that church has become a private members’ club, and excuse the fact that we generally keep our faith to ourselves through the occasional personal reminder that corporate worship is good and God likes it. Our big get out of hell free card is that we give money to mission and support good young folk like those who volunteer for schemes like Nomad. OK, I accept that other stuff goes on and that not all churches are the same, but the question we need to ask is whether church is telling the world that Jesus is alive or suggesting the opposite? Are we stuck in some strange limbo between the cross and the resurrection or are we excited that the grave is empty and Jesus is alive? Wake up church. Jesus is alive, and there is a world outside our walls that needs to know.
All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.
A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. (Acts 2: 42-47 NLT)