Saturday, June 25, 2005

a simple metal plumbing pipe and why the future of God is indeed, among the people of God

One of my passionate beliefs is that mission is a partnership with the Spirit of God already at work. We don’t dream up mission, but we find a creative, redeeming, reconciling God already at work in the world.

This affirmation is important when we think about church and emerging church. It might just be, if God is a God of the unexpected, that the creative, redeeming, reconciling God might be at work not only in the world, but also in the church. That the future of the people of God might already be among the people of God.


A simple concrete pipe is a potential, practical example of this. Opawa Baptist is a 40 year old, brick, block monolith. So the thought of installing a coffee machine sends the cash registers spinning on practical, plumbing types. Putting water pipes through concrete block walls can get expensive!

This week I went exploring. I dream of a coffee machine in an “L” cove of the foyer. So I open some cupboard doors under a stair-well and I find a hot water cylinder. I look underneath the cylinder and there is a “T” join already on the pipe, pointing straight toward where I want the coffee machine. I knock on the dividing wall and it echoes. It’s wood, not concrete.

40 years ago, in the wisdom of heaven, a church plumber chose to install a “T” join in a straightforward plumbing operation and a church builder chose to build a wooden wall rather than concrete wall. And so today, a coffee machine installation is much more affordable. So perhaps the future of God really is among the people of God. Perhaps we really do build on foundations laid by others.

So much of the emerging talk is about starting anew. Let me rant. It’s dangerous. It’s disrespectful. It’s dodgy in it’s theology. If we really believe in the Spirit of God at work in the world, why is it so hard to conceive that the Spirit could be pregant among the concrete block walls of a church?

Posted by steve at 11:37 AM


  1. Why do we limit God so much? As you say, God can and is, in charge of the old water pipes if He has a purpose for their use.
    I serve in a small country church. We have a mum’s and pre-schoolers music group. As there is nothing in our village, we decided that it would be great to have a “proper” coffee machine to give the grans and mums who come, a latte, cappuccino or hot chocolate. We hired a second hand one – after a year we decided that we could not afford it any more. We notified the place of business that we would be returning the machine, only to be told that the machine was ours. God certainly goes before!!

    Comment by Rev Andy — June 25, 2005 @ 12:10 pm

  2. in his book “eternity in their hearts” don richardson shows example after example of GOD preparing the way for missionaries to spread word of the kingdom. so why shouldn’t the FATHER prepare the way for a missional coffee maker?

    Comment by robert terrell — June 25, 2005 @ 4:36 pm

  3. It’s slightly tangential but I always liked the story told of Billy Graham who was asked this by a frustrated journalist questioning him about his evangelism crusades. “Ok. You’re standing in front of a starving man in Africa and you have a bible and a loaf of bread. Which do you give him?”

    With a smile and without hesitation Billy replied: “Both.”

    Comment by Randall — June 25, 2005 @ 10:13 pm

  4. This post just makes me smile:) Thanks. It can be such a pleasure to be broadsided by God sometimes.

    Comment by Mark Miron — July 2, 2005 @ 8:50 am

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