On reflection, I realise that last week’s blog was only half the story of how I’ve stayed almost 27 years at Fullarton (I’m not suggesting all ministries should last so long). I continue to salute our Fullarton Family’s willingness to change, adapt and grow into The People God wants us to be. I’ve been pastor and minister to at least 3 evolutions of the Fullarton Church Family: 1. Caring Traditional, 2. Caring Traditional and Contemporary, 3. Community Connecting Contemporary and Traditional. This probably is gobbledygook to most, but it traces a movement in my understanding of Fullarton Church’s identity, and my own journey.
Fullarton Church, for many years before Dorothy and I arrived, was known as ‘The Kirk That Cares’, its ‘Action Group’ renowned nationally for its practical care for the poor and pensioners of the parish. Nearly 59 years mature, this ministry still continues with regular meals and entertainment for local retired people, ConneXions Café a wonderful new venue. A 6-day Community Café ran for decades in the old Wilson Fullarton Church building (present venue for ‘The Gate’, our Youth Café / Youth and Community work).
Our Mission Statement, coined 25 years ago (with only one tweak since), continues to act as guide and gauge for our plans and activity, “Together, to share the Love of Jesus and make disciples, through prayer, worship, learning and example, reaching out to our community and beyond, with a vision for the future.” 3 times, so far, we’ve received help from consultants to identify and understand the strengths, weaknesses and perceived needs of both congregation and wider community, leading to greater connection with the youth, lonely and addiction afflicted of our parish and town. Our new hub ‘Fullarton ConneXions’ now allows us to make many more caring connections.
Starting out at Fullarton, I remember mature ministers talk about their embarrassment at their earlier sermons. Smug and Self-righteous in my evangelical zeal, I thought that would never be me. How wrong I was! I think I’m still as passionate in my preaching, but the more I get to know God and wonder at His amazing Grace towards us in Jesus Christ, the more of a ‘beginner’ I feel. The more I know of God the more I realise I’ve still to learn.
I still say ‘50’ is the new ‘40’ (when life begins), and hope to say the same about ‘60’, if God spares me. On reflection the greatest change in me is ‘God’s consistent humbling’, driving me to himself when I flop and drawing me to himself when
I fly. I’ve learnt ‘Humility’ is not humiliation or squirming in your smallness, rather the ability to joyfully stand tall in the awesome presence of the immense, almighty, all-knowing, all-seeing, all-loving God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and realising how preciously small we are to this God.
I look forward to and long for the day when God’s Spirit will not just make ‘some things’ new, but ‘all things’ new (Revelation 21:5), meantime (under God) my personal mission statement continues to protect and prompt me, ‘To share the love of Jesus, make disciples and help people take steps closer to Jesus’. Keep it simple Neily!