If I’d Known You Were Coming, I’d Have Baked a Cake!

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The Body Builder

by Major Terry Camsey –

Somewhere recently I saw something that said “Reading a recipe will not bake a cake!” That phrase has stuck with me because, like so many pithy phrases, it embraces a ton of truth. It does takes more than reading the recipe to bake a cake. It takes action. And, if you want the cake to turn out the way the picture suggests it should, you’d be wise to follow the recipe very carefully… precise ingredients, accurate weights, correct temperatures, etc.

There’s another phrase I love for similar reasons…”Owning a piano does not make you a pianist.” There’s a wealth of wisdom worth exploring in that statement, too.

Who knows how or why such thoughts drop into the mind and vex us until we do something with them. The fact is they do. Often, years after they were first encountered. There must be a reason, one would think.

Changing the subject somewhat, I also came across the transcript of an interview in Leadership magazine (Winter 1997) with futurist Faith Popcorn, whose work has been likened to “The Oracle of Delphi” doing Wall Street! She is author of the best-selling The Popcorn Report and Clicking and–as 100 percent Jewish–acknowledges no interest in Christianity. The Leadership article does, however, suggest she knows well the culture Christians want to reach.

She has interesting things to say. Asked why the media is paying more attention to religion, she responds it is related to the “anchoring trend,” the trend of spirituality. “It’s everything from wearing a little angel to burning incense to doing yoga. That’s the reason Zen Buddhism and alternative religions are growing–and even more versions of the Christian religion” she suggests. “People are looking for community, not just a church.”

Pressed on the issue of the impact of this trend on smaller churches, she suggests people like to go to the megastore but that there is also a trend towards intimate, tiny, specialist boutiques. She feels that there is a place for both big churches and small (boutique, specialist) churches but that while these extremes grow, the middle size churches will probably fall by the wayside. Again an interesting comment, reflective of the efforts of many territories to experiment with establishing small specialty corps as well as to (by Army measures) larger congregations of 200 or more. This, often, against stiff resistance from some who seem to feel that small, shrinking, “one size fits all,” heavily subsidized corps, are the ideal for which to strive.

Her most interesting observation, however, is that “if you’re going to have a successful religious organization, this would be the next ten years to do it”… commenting further that “many people feel churches have taken advantage of them, not given anything back, and not recognized the real problems.”

Which, strangely, leads me right back to the cake recipe and piano.

We have, from corps/service delivery units, through divisions/command to THQ, put in place some tremendous visions… recipes for making something that can really be attractive to those who hunger spiritually. But without action, there will be no “gospel cake” for them. And, like owning a piano, having a vision is no guarantee that the “sweet music of mission” will be sounded unless someone actually brings the cold notation to life.

General Gowans has indicated (Salvationist, 26 June 1999) that the “old style” and “new style” need not be at loggerheads. Neither is necessarily a virtue in itself. It depends on whether it is effective in serving the Army’s main purpose to save souls, (and) grow saints and serve suffering humanity. To fulfill that mission, he suggests, the bait must be according to what the fish likes… which may not always be the thing we like!

If we knew, as an absolute certainty, that Jesus would return during what Faith Popcorn considers to be a decade of opportunity, would we bake him a cake?

Will we?

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