It seems so odd that at a time when we’re undertaking both general and Covid related risk assessments ready for reopening the buildings and regathering in person, we’re also beginning to think about what it means to be a risk-taking Church. But what does risk-taking look like for us as a Church and as individuals?
I remember well when Isaac, our son, was born. Tracy was still in theatre and I was sent back to our room on the Labour Ward (a room with which we’d become all too familiar) with a midwife and our brand new, still slightly icky, tiny boy. The midwife cleaned him up and dressed him. As I watched, I remember her manipulating his tiny arms and legs into the extremities of the babygrow, and my first parental instinct kicked in and took over as I raise my voice and barked at her: “be careful – he’s precious!” She understood.
Now fast-forward approx 10 months. By this time Isaac was pulling himself up and walking along the edge of the sofa, with all the grace of a duck waddling on ice. And those words came rushing back “be careful – you’re precious“. But it wouldn’t be right to stop him from learning, gaining strength in his legs and growing in confidence. Instead, we removed some of the more obvious dangers around him, and kept a close eye on him for when he got to the edge of the sofa and ventured toward the coffee table!
But in parenthood, as in Church life, you cannot eliminate every element of risk without creating complete paralysis and restricting progress. Risks are a necessary part of growth.
Our value of risk-taking is about relying on God & partnering with Him to build His Kingdom, and Jesus told a story which will help us think about risk-taking. It’s called the Parable of the Bags of Gold, and sometimes the Parable of the Talents (which was the name of a coin at the time). In the story (Matthew 25:14-30) a man calls his servants together and gives them some of his money before going on a journey. One servant was so fearful of the master that he simply buried the money to keep it safe, knowing that he’d be able to hand it back when the master returned. The other two took a risk and invested it & worked hard, gaining even more money for the master which pleased him enormously and he shared some with those two servants. But this story isn’t about money or generosity, Jesus told this story to give us a picture of what the Kingdom of God is like.
If we want to partner with God and see His Kingdom built, we need to take some risks. As this story shows, when we do that by investing what we’ve been given (our time, talents & resources), working hard and with the right motivation, we will see growth for the Kingdom. But this is not an excuse to be wreckless or foolish, nor for us to be motivated by greed for more. As we’re thinking about what might be appropriate risks to take as a Church and as individual believers, we should be consider who/what stands to gain most if those risks pay off. If it’s us, Rayleigh Baptist Church, then we probably need to think again (note that the two servants who invested well were not about enriching themselves). But if our risks-taking will benefit the most in need in our community, then we’ll see the Kingdom of God being built.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless;
plead the case of the widow. Isaiah 1:17
When the time was right, we encouraged Isaac to venture away from the sofa and directed him across the room with all the babbling parent-speak we could muster. The first few times, he excitedly took one or two steps before falling. Sometimes we caught him, other times we didn’t – apart from the shock the first couple of times, he was fine. Perhaps we’ve been tentatively walking around RBC, holding on to the chairs, walls and railings as we go, afraid to venture too far for fear of falling. Perhaps now is the time to let go, venture further out and take a risk…