by Brett Kennett
‘I’ve never tried this before … but I’m willing to have a go!’
How many times have you used this expression or heard someone else use it?
Behind it, there’s usually a particular kind of attitude, a mindset that causes us to step out adventurously in order to try a new experience or to tackle a problem by using a new approach. I have a sense that we think this is commendable and admirable, and so we respond with encouragement for those who are prepared to ‘have a go’.
In Matthew 25:14–30, Jesus tells a parable about three servants who are entrusted with various sums of money by their master. It seems to me that two of them ‘have a go’. They invest the money entrusted to them and are able to return it with interest to their master. The third, however, buries what has been entrusted to him and as a result, generates no return on his master’s investment. He has only the original sum to give back to his master and is rebuked for his lack of faith.
I really feel for that third servant! He took an extremely conservative approach – but suffered as a result. My wife sometimes challenges my tendency to hoard stuff. It’s in my blood. Growing up I was taught to save what you’ve got and preserve faithfully what has been given to you. Those are fine values to have, but not at the expense of putting the gifts you have been given to good use! The flip side of hoarding and saving and preserving can be a shed full of old stuff fast turning into junk.
I think the real loss suffered by the third servant in Jesus’ parable was in not realising the possibility of the gift that he had been entrusted with. And at an even more profound and tragic level, it appears that he didn’t know his master’s character and as a result, he acted in fear rather than with the confidence to ‘have a go’ and invest his gift.
Right at the moment in our LCA/NZ, we are being confronted with many depressing and gloomy statistics.
There’s decline across the board in our church attendance figures and a startling trend in terms of our age profile. According to the last NCLS survey, we’ve been welcoming new Christians into our churches at half the rate of our denominational cousins. Underlying these factors is a more foundational reality that we need to come to grips with. The last Australian census reported a drop in the number of those adhering to Christianity – now down to 52 per cent. Correspondingly, the number of people answering ‘no religion’ has been a rising trend for decades and it’s accelerating.
The context in which we are ‘doing church’ is no longer the context whereby Christianity was once at the centre of our culture.
As Jesus also taught us, ‘The harvest is bigger than you can imagine, but there are few workers. Therefore, plead with the Lord of the harvest to send out workers for his harvest’ (Luke 10:2).
If we look outwardly and honestly at the conditions we face, we surely see more opportunities than ever to meet people who don’t know Jesus, and to ‘have a go’ at sharing the reason for the hope we have in new ways!
We have a God who also does new things after all. Especially when times are toughest.
‘Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?’ (Isaiah 43:18–19).
The story of the gospel, of God’s commitment to our rescue from sin, is surely the inspiration we need to ‘have a go’ and try some new things.
Pastor Brett Kennett is District Pastor for Congregational Support for the LCA’s Victoria and Tasmania District.