As someone who has participated in many kinds of races to date, half-marathon,5k, 10K and Sprint Triathlons, I have faced my share of pre-race fears. The voices of fear are many, "You didn't train enough", "You trained too much", "look at that course, no way you are getting around it", " I can't do this what was I thinking?" so on and so on. Usually, once the race starts and I start breathing in a nice rythm the fears melt away and I can concentrate on what I need to do.
In the church there can be times when our faith fails us, we hear voices of doubt and uncertainty, "Look at all the empty pews, our church is shrinking and may die", " we have so many expenses, how will we ever pay all our bills and salary's". " We have a huge building, how can we keep it maintained with fewer and fewer people in the church?". And these fears show up in criticism of others, of pastors, of those who left, and other scapegoats that are in our field of vision.
Some try to circle the wagons, which was a winning strategy perhaps in pioneering days, but it does not work well in todays realities.
The fact is that the way we do church is changing, well it has been changing for a while but we have not always felt the shifting sand underneath our feet. It is churches who have figured out to be the church in their context that has led to changes which have made some uncomfortable afraid but they have forged through listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit that have found a way to be vital disciples and welcome new disciples into their fellowship. There is no magic formula, no easy path, no universal idea that works, except this, not to listen to the voices of fear.
I have completed every race I have entered so far, and most always laugh as I cross the finish line because I have left the voices of fear behind, for the moment, and it feels good to say, I did my best.
What voices are you listening to? Which ones do you believe?
2 Timothy 4:7
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith (NIV)