This is the view from my son’s window – first we saw a nest, then Mama blackbird, then chicks, and then Dad feeding them. I was so surprised that they nested so close to the house- just 4 feet away. I started to think about trust.
These birds must trust the humans if they are prepared to nest so close to us. They must know that we won’t harm them, and that there will be food for them.
If we want people to trust us, and come close to us, they need to know that we won’t harm them. Is this something we do in evangelism? Or are we so keen to get people in the church door and ‘saved’ that we don’t ensure trust is part of the picture? This is what ‘friendship’ evangelism is about – building up relationships before we start to tell the great story of God’s love. Or maybe, building up relationships is how we share God’s love. For many people these days, finding someone they can trust and rely on is difficult. Families are spread throughout the country, and it’s easy to get isolated.
The church has a reputation in the community, and it’s not a good one. There is a mistrust of the institutional church, because of past abuses, and a sense that the church is just out for money. These are areas that are being dealt with, and having recently been through the discernment process, I know how robust is the testing to see if candidates for ordination are ‘safe’ people.The challenge is, how does the church then re-establish a sense of trust, so that people will want to ‘nest’ close to us, or even with us?
In my garden, I am often digging the soil, in vain attempts to remove dandelions, and make a loose structure to plant something. The blackbirds know that whenever I am doing this, there will be worms and other tasty grubs for them. In our churches, as we turn the soil of our local communities, maybe we expose the food too – the areas of interest and concern, things to think about, thinks to rejoice about, and things to fight against.
I encourage you to look around your ‘garden’, till the soil, and let the birds nest.