There are so many things we take for granted. For instance, when was the last time we considered delivery systems? Pastor James Emery White who writes a blog on Church and culture, once wrote, “A delivery system is simply the way you deliver a product or message. Leadership is often phrased as getting ‘from here to there’. But a delivery system is how you get ‘this to there’.” The aftermath of Storm Emma may have caused us to question how important delivery systems really are. With almost constant T.V. and radio coverage of this exceptional weather event, one of the big stories was shops selling out of bread and other essentials, as people stockpiled – just in case!
The way we want and need things delivered is changing all the time. How do people buy the music they listen to these days? Time was, people went to a record shop and bought singles, LPs or EPs. Then came the cassette tape, followed by CDs. But chances are that nowadays, most people buy their music in the form of a download from the internet or by ‘streaming’. This has prompted many changes in the marketplace including fewer high street music shops than twenty years ago. In fact, the car manufacturer, Ford, has begun rolling out their first card without CD player in twenty-five years. If anyone today insists on delivering music through CDs, they will deliver very little.
There are two things to consider when looking at delivery systems. First, the delivery system is not the product – it is merely the way of getting the product from ‘here to there’. The product should always be the item which is of central importance. If the product doesn’t have any integrity or substance, then it doesn’t matter how good or efficient the delivery systems are. What ends up being delivered will still be something empty, with no power to enhance peoples’ lives. Second, delivery system do really matter. Thankfully, someone thought about them before the recent snow storms. Someone worked through the logic that foods need to get from the producer, wholesaler, to the shop shelf and ultimately to the consumer. If someone hadn’t done this, the consequences would be all too obvious – empty shelves and hungry people!
As a Church, have we seriously considered delivery system? As we begin the joyful Easter season when we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, the Epistle to the Romans says, “But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believe? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him?” (Romans 10:14). This passage paints a picture of people who need to hear the life-changing message, and of the risen Christ, of the Church that has been entrusted with that message, and of the fact that unless that message is delivered, then people will not know about it. In his Easter message, Archbishop Michael Jackson commented, ‘The instinct in much institutional religion is to delay…in John’s Gospel, in an interchange between Jesus and his disciples, we are invited to do otherwise: to reap a harvest, to get on and do it. Indeed, we are told that the fields are ripe for harvesting.’
As already mentioned, a delivery system is not the product – it is just a way of getting something from ‘here to there’. The delivery systems we use to communicate this message of Easter hope are just that – a means of getting the message to those who need to hear it. The message of the risen Christ is what remains of central importance. And as Church, our Services are a delivery system. Therefore, we need to constantly review how effective that delivery system is. Delivery systems do matter!
May the joy and hope of the risen Christ be yours this Eastertide.
With every blessing, John.
Rev’d John Tanner, Rector.
Tel: 01- 289 3154 / 086 302 1376