July is a month when lots of sport happens—rugby league, World Cup soccer and the Commonwealth Games. At our house we will be watching the classic three week cycling event, the Tour de France.
People draw life lessons from sport and at times it provides some metaphors for life in the church. The apostle Paul wrote about running the race set before us with patience and persistence.
The early church fathers likened the church to an ark or ship, and more recent writers on mission claim that it is more like a flotilla of boats. But I like to compare the church with the peloton of a great cycle race.
The peloton is the group of riders who travel the route together. Travelling closely together saves energy. It creates a spectacle of colour and movement to see so many riders in team colours bouncing and rolling through the countryside.
The cyclists work together to take turns at the front and will expend much energy making sure that their best riders are in a good position to make a podium finish. If there is an accident or a mechanical failure team members will drop back to support their rider until they are back in contention.
Collegiality is strong. The relationships are strengthened by being on the journey together and sharing the struggles of each day. This seems like the best of life in congregations and presbyteries where people of faith bond with one another in prayer and communion with Christ.
From time to time, a few riders will break away to try to gain a few extra seconds or points in a mountain climb. At those times allegiances may be made with other teams, just as we might collaborate with other denominations in response to disasters or to advocate for an issue of social justice. In rural areas churches have discovered that collaboration is fruitful even though people are wearing a different team jersey or the support car sports a different logo.
Cycling, like the church, has its scandals and champions may disappoint, but that is when it is important to work on putting in place policies and responses that seek to protect vulnerable ones, such as we have done in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.
We aren’t infallible but by seeking to live out our Vision 2020 in all the messiness of life, we are working towards a common vision for the church in Queensland; a vision that touches the community as much as it does our churches.
Rev Kaye Ronalds
Queensland Synod Moderator