This is simply the 20-something version of the child climbing a tree. What does a parent do? On the one hand, climbing a tree is an exciting thing to do when you're 5 or 6 or 7 years of age. But, parents also know that children can fall out of trees and seriously damage themselves. So do you stop the child climbing the tree and deny them a new, exciting experience of life? or do you let them climb the tree, running the risk that they might fall and hurt themselves? Of such dilemmas is parenthood made!
Don't Tell Mum is made up of messages from people travelling the world and contacting people at home. "I'm just about to go bungee-jumping off the highest bridge I've ever seen, but don't tell mum because she'll worry!" And dad won't!!!
Some people are averse to taking risks; they simply want life to be safe and predictable because they take some peace and security from that. We live in a culture that tries to avoid risk as much as possible; before teachers can take their class on a trip they have to complete a risk assessment to make sure that this trip is as safe as it can be and that any risk to the children is minimal and manageable. There is a whole industry set up now to work with businesses to help them analyse the risk of certain actions or the risk of failing to do certain things. We try to manage risk as much as we can.
One thing is true: we will never avoid taking risks. Crossing the street is taking a risk! Tony Blair, as he was coming to the end of his time as Prime Minister, said that as he looked back over his occupation of Number 10, that he wished he had taken more risks because then he might have achieved more.
- Last week, we were told that the Church census that we did in March revealed that an average of just over 9,000 people in Edinburgh were in Church of Scotland congregations for worship. That is 2% of the city's population. We have been watching these statistics decline for 10 years and have done nothing about them. Now, it is time to waken up. We no lonoger have 20 years to turn the Church aorund; if we don't take some risks now, at least half of the congregations in the city won't be here in 20 years time!
- I am part of an on-going discussion about the future mission of the Church in Scotland and how we continue to provide ministry for every community in the country at at time when the financial resources available are diminishing.
- The same survey in March told us that 50% of our membership in Juniper Green in over 60 years of age.
It seems to me that we have two choices: we can sit back and watch as the Church fades away into the distance and dies; or we can take some risks.
What risks must we take that will allow us to build a healthy and strong church for the future? I seriously hope that we will not be looking back in 10 years time saying, 'if only we had taken the risk in 2009... but we were too scared!'
What constitutes the "tree-climbing school" of church leadership?