Guy starts dance party (Stephen Lindridge)

Monday, 14 September, 2009

Stephen LindridgeStephen Lindridge watches a guy starting a dance party.

Jesus used stories to get across what he was trying to teach and to tell people, and I came across a contemporary story just very recently. Somebody sent me a clip from YouTube of a guy dancing at the Sasquatch music festival near Seattle this year. He was going out there, giving it large and dancing, throwing his arms out in crazy moves. And the crowd are looking at him as though he's a little bit weird and little bit strange, and he does look funny and he does look weird compared to everyone sat there calmly on the grass, enjoying themselves.

But then within a couple of minutes another guy comes and joins him, dancing in an equally extravagant way with happy bizarre moves. Then there's a third guy about 30 seconds later that joins them, followed shortly by a small group who all start to join this little dance party. What follows is just amazing. Within seconds people start running from all over this field to come and join in. The people who had calmly sat near this guy are now either having to get up and join in, or move further and further back as the crowd now rapidly expand the dance party.

I couldn't  help but think this was a great allegory of what has happened over the last few years in fresh expressions and those pioneering new ministries amongst communities with no connection with church or the good news about Jesus.

The lone dancer, the guy with the passion, gets up and starts to do a new thing. We might look at the Christian pioneer  the same way – what she or he is doing doesn't look familiar. We may even ask the question: 'Is this church at all because it looks so different?' It may seem a bit lonely, but they're the one with the energy and enthusiasm to begin.

However, the pioneer isn't the bravest person. It's the one who's first to get up and decides to join them, willing to look foolish too, risking the stares and comments of the crowd – it's this person who offers the real sacrifice in coming to join in. But it's because of their bravery that someone else decides to come, then another and another. And before you know it, the tables have been turned and now it's who's not joining that's looking weird.

In the past few years, since I believe the mid-'90s, God's Spirit has been inspiring many individuals to begin new odd looking missional works that don't look like the church I grew up in. But little by little, others have started to see what God's been doing, been encouraged and got excited by it and have come to join in.

Now there are literally hundreds of people across the country who have witnessed some element of God's party of new works, think it's fantastic and are joining in. Unique styles, projects, churches month by month. It is almost impossible to keep up.

The resounding note around this is: the song which the guy is dancing to is called 'Unstoppable'. For me, the work of the Holy Spirit and what God is doing across this land is unstoppable. God wants to reach this time and generation with the good news of Jesus and is finding creative ways in which to inspire us to get off our backsides, as it were, and join in the party.

Jesus said many things to those who listened. Two things I'll leave you to ponder about this YouTube video. The first is: Jesus said, 'I will be with you always'. When we begin a pioneering work or fresh expression of church, it may seem something strange or unfamiliar, but we're not doing it alone - we're to join in what God's already doing.

Secondly, in Matthew 13, Jesus talks about how small the mustard seed is when it's sown, and yet how large it can become. God's work in you and through you may be so small from your perspective, but never doubt what God can grow it into.

Join in the dance. Join in God's party.

About the author: 

Stephen Lindridge is Fresh Expressions Connexional Missioner for the Methodist Church. He and his wife Elaine were joint initiators and leaders of Mind the Gap, a fresh expression of church for young adults in the Jarrow and Gateshead Methodist Circuit.


Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
We use spam protection. View privacy policy.