by Richard Hardy
There are two equal and opposite dangers in community engagement.
One danger is starting too soon and going off half cocked. Unfortunately the church has a reputation for this – for doing things poorly. If we think we understand the need, but don’t check to see if our assumptions are correct, we can make silly mistakes.
It’s also important that we not only understand the need, but also the most appropriate and legal way to address it. If we fail to understand fully the issues and seek the appropriate professional advice, we could do more harm than good.
The second danger is to do nothing. We sometimes think that if we can’t do something perfectly, we shouldn’t even start.
It’s worth noting that Jesus never criticised people for failing - but he did have a thing or two to say to those who never even tried. That is what the parable of the talents is all about. The guy with the one talent lost it, because he played it safe and never tried.
Yes, we need to do the research. Yes, we need to discover the needs. Yes, we need to make sure that we have the resources to start - and all of that will take some time. But these things are not the end, they are the means. Sooner or later we have to start - and starting is not the end of the process, but the beginning.
You cannot know the end from the beginning. In some sense this is what a step of faith is all about - not quite knowing how things will work out. Scary - but exciting.
Scripture for the day