But we're selling it. I went there to collect a few items which we're moving to my place of work and it was with a heavy heart that I left - knowing that I'd almost definitely never go there again. Why are we selling it? Well, it's a long story, but the bottom line is that the church community in Milton Keynes is really too small to make such a large house worthwhile. So they're downsizing. I've no doubt this is a wise and necessary step for the saints there to be able move on and find fresh and achievable vision. But I still find it desperately sad - and not just because I'm fond of old romantic houses (which I confess to be true).
It's just that, as I stared out of one of the top floor windows over the roofs of the rest of the house and the over the grounds, it struck me what a wonderful resource the place was for the Kingdom of God. It cries out to be full of passionate saints: living, loving, sharing, reaching out and demonstrating the great alternative that is God's new creation. I reflected on my own dreams (which amount to big houses full of passionate saints living, loving, sharing, reaching out and demonstrating the great alternative that is God's new creation). I'd like to make this happen as many times as I can fit into one lifetime. Given a chance, I'd like to grab some people, move to the old rectory and make it happen - but I can't because I'm busy giving my all to make it happen somewhere else!
Which brought me to the realisation (again) that our desperate need - for which we ought to cry out to God day and night - is people. And more: people who have seen the vision and who are ready to throw their lives at it with abandon, with grit, and with determination.
Given twenty or so of these, we could fill the old rectory instead of selling it.
There are similarities at home, at White Stone. We want to be able to grow to the point where we can create a team to be released and go and make Christian church and community happen somewhere else. But if this is to happen we gotta find people of leadership mettle - and they don't grow on trees.
Since I've only got one life to live (ever had one of those moments when you wish you could live several lives at the same time - like me wanting to move to Milton Keynes at the same time as building White Stone?..) I'm going to have to ask God to give us men and women of passion: leaders.
Recently, I've been searching my heart asking myself why I'm so keen to see the Church grow and spread. And (as I expected and feared) there's some murky motivations (ambition, romanticism, success-orientation) - but I can honestly say that the deepest motivation within me is that I love Jesus and I want Him to be known and His teachings to be lived and His Church to be glorious.
Because there's a nation to take. There's a Kingdom to be demonstrated. There's a cause to burn for. Oh God - bring it on!
"Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin, and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergymen or laymen, such alone will shake the gates of Hell and setup the kingdom of heaven upon earth." (John Wesley)