In November 1998, Hurricane Mitch ravaged Honduras. Although around 150 bridges were damaged or destroyed, the most modern, the Choluteca bridge, survived intact. But it suffered perhaps the greatest indignity – the river moved right out from under it.
Today, the bridge stands abandoned. A white concrete sculpture, far from shore, it is aptly described as ‘linking nothing to nowhere’.
The Choluteca bridge could be seen as a metaphor for the challenge facing the 21st century church.
The magnificent bridge – the Christian message of love and acceptance – has survived for centuries, enabling people to make their own spiritual journey. It has survived hurricane force winds of persecution, criticism and secularism.
But the river of people’s lives has changed direction radically over the past 100 years. If we are to continue to connect with them, we need to reposition the bridge.
We don’t need to change the content of the message – we need to realign the bridge to make sense of the message. We need to find ways of ensuring the message connects with those who have no concept of what the church is about. It’s estimated that there are around 40 million people in the UK who have little or no contact with church.
When it comes to community connection and credibility we often start in the wrong place with the wrong assumptions. We answer questions few have been asking, and so we seem irrelevant to most people’s lives.
In 2006 The Sun ran a survey of its readership. One of the questions asked was, ‘What is the most important thing in your life?’ 85% of those who responded answered ‘Family’.
So here’s our opportunity. Through issues relating to family life, we can demonstrate to those in our communities the relevance and power of the unconditional love andtotal acceptance that lie at the very heart of the Christian message.