Is It Time The Church Turned Over A New Leaf?

The other week my car was due for a service and the kind people at Nissan said I could have a courtesy car while it was in. Imagine my horror when I turned up and was given the keys to an electric Nissan Leaf.

No gas to guzzle? No smoke out the back? No noisy engine? No noise at all! No environment being damaged?

That’s not a car. Not a proper car. Surely people would be waving me down and asking for bottles of milk? Is there no other option? I almost got the bus home.

But after a look at the weather and a brief familiarisation, I did the previously unthinkable, I actually took the thing on the road.

Hang on.

This thing is good! A bit pokey (in the right way) it’s fast! Responsive! Eerily quiet until you put the radio on and then it doesn’t matter. Actually, all those negatives were positives – apart from the milk float thing, which thankfully didn’t happen.

I noticed there was no road tax to pay. Genius! Once you have one these things. All you have to do is keep plugging into the power and you can go a long, long way.

By the time I went to pick Zoe up from work a few hours on, I was a Leaf evangelist, ‘Look! This thing is the FUTURE!’ And everywhere I went I was advertising for it too as the photo shows.


Little wonder the car (I admit now it is one) is doing so well – some friends at Gateway Church in the USA just made news because the staff are all buying Leafs. (Or is it Leaves?)

Seamless link to a thought about church follows soon – but first…

My best friend runs an incredible charity called SAFE which actually rescues sex trafficked women in the UK (lots of charities do a good job to lobby, inform or get us to pray about that happening, but in the UK it’s SAFE that’s getting its hands dirty and doing the business). To try to raise money for this work, he drove his lovely old classic car to Poland last year. But the car kept breaking down, and he was advised by a mechanic that all he could do was hit the starter with a hammer, that might get it going again.

It worked! The hammer was an answer to prayer.

For ten miles, before the car stopped again.

He had to get out and do it every ten miles in all kinds of weather all the way across Germany and through Poland to finally reach his destination. He still loves his car, somehow. He invited me to go with him next time.

Seamless link to a thought about church as promised…

So many friends are in established denominational structures, or training to join such. I’ve been in that car. You can get some progress, you really can – but only if you keep getting out and whacking the old girl with a lump hammer every now and then. And now. And then.

A few weeks back a lovely man I met at a conference was trying to entice me to come back into such a denominational structure, with what he thought sounded like a great job idea, and it was very kind of him to do so. The plan would involve some great big now empty church building in a major city, where we could spend lots of money doing it up to try to get people back in again.

‘Come and get in my nice old classic car.’

A return to being led by non-leader people in frocks, frills and collars, siphoning the money for off into a central pot to keep other churches that are dead already on life support for some reason.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Like I said to mate with the classic car, ‘If I’m going to drive all the way from here to Poland, I want a car that works.’

Now I know lots of people love a classic car. No power steering, funny smells, it’s all part of the charm. Maybe you’re one of them, and if so good luck to you – but I’m not an enthusiast, I used to do some of that but got fed up of the hammering.

When I think about church in the UK and Europe now I want to be about a New Thing. Since I started talking about ‘New Thing UK’, figuring out how to create movements of reproducing churches that help people find their way back to God, with discipleship and evangelism as the engine, small, medium or large in terms of chassis and capacity, I’m having more and more conversations with people who want to plant ‘Leaf’ Churches rather than wait for the classic car club to catch up, or keep swinging a hammer in the rain over and over.

The future is flexible, it’s fast, it’s fun. The benefits speak for themselves. It’s economical, easier to handle, very responsive. Once you’ve tried it, you probably won’t want to go back.

But I won’t be able to convince you by telling you. Until you’ve tried an electric car, you’ll never know how good they are.