It was fun to watch the England rugby team finally playing something like decent rugby last night, to beat Tonga (population 100,000, so it was more like watching England v Darlington) to get through to the quarter finals of the world cup. Some parts of it were wince-worthy in the extreme, as grown men with a combined weight of 40 stones collided with each other at full speed.
Rugby's not really my game. I'm trying to find a sports team to join at the moment, and was quite attracted by the new Mudford football team, who went down 27-0 to Westlands last Saturday, and even had the grace to let their photo go into the local paper. They only managed to field 9 players, I'm about 20 years younger than the oldest player, so maybe it's a team where there might be a place for me.
And maybe that's what people want from the church. Folk who aren't afraid to lose heavily in public and still smile about it. A team which has a place for people who aren't perfect, a team which plays for fun, a team with room for the old and the young.
On the train back from consuming lots of chocolate cake at a conference in Salisbury, I started reading 'The Provocative Church' by Graham Tomlin. It raises the vital question of why, with so many Alpha courses and evangelistic stuff going on, that most people aren't interested in what Christians have got to say. His thesis is that there isn't enough distinctive and different about the lives of Christians. If there were, people would be interested in what makes us tick. The church should be the kind of team that people want to join, just like the community of Acts 2, whose community life was so vibrant that God added to their number on a daily basis. So as we think in Yeovil about how to enable a missionary Christian presence in new (and existing) housing estates, this question of the quality of Christian community keeps coming back again and again. It's not enough to have a shared vision, shared mission, shared theology. It's the quality of our love, unity and community life - those things which Jesus prays for in John 17 - which are at the core of how we do God's mission in the world.
Tony Campolo (go to about 17 mins 30 sec in this vid and watch the story about Honolulu) talks about a Christian community that "...throws birthday parties for prostitutes at 3.30 in the morning', (to which the Honolulu barman responds) 'no you don't! no you don't! I would join a church like that!' wouldn't we all join a church like that? I got news for you, that is the kind of church that Jesus came to create, I don't know where we got this other one."
What kind of church am I part of? Who would want to join it? Would Jesus?