I remember being told that a boat steers around its mid-point, unlike a car, so it will take some getting used to. As soon as you set off, you understand that this is the case, as you desperately over-compensate when it is clear your boat is not heading where you thought you were steering it. The advice to do things slowly comes in very handy if you have heeded it.
Of course knowing the fact that a boat steers around its mid-point is no practical help when you are floundering. Telling your brain that it needs to plug in the ‘intuitive instincts for handling craft-that-revolves-around-centre-of-gravity’ meets with a brain-cellular guffaw.
Given time, the brain and muscles figure it out themselves, and you leave them to it.
After a few days me, or any of my crew, were able to deftly steer our cruiser to its berth, with subtle pulses of throttle and nudges of the rudder, like we were born with sea legs.
I think a church, if it is functioning as an organism, is like a boat. When we deal with decisions, it is a matter of steering and speed adjustment. It takes a process of effective consultation to ‘feel’ where the middle is, involving everyone’s participation across the deck, and then letting the ship proceed to where it has been nudged. Sometimes we discover we, personally, are quite far from where the middle turned out to be, and have been jostled by the jerk. Sometimes we are surprised how central our views have turned out to be on that occasion.
Of course, a ship needs continual steering, and the seas are susceptible to change. And the church has a vital journey and mission.
‘I’m not giving you a destination to come and meet me at,’ said Jesus to the guy that said he would follow him wherever he would go. ‘But, if you will have them, take my reins, and set off. You will hear the nudges to go left and right, and it will become natural. Follow me.’