My neighbour has a parrot, a vicious bird that bites and squawks and is generally bad tempered, scowling at you from the safety of his cage. His one redeeming feature is that he speaks: words, phrases and swearing screech from his mouth, repetitions of sounds he has heard clearly mimicked as he swings contentedly on his perch.
Contrast this encounter with another I had last year, that of a young golden eagle. Tethered to his handlers arm, this magnificent bird with its keen eyes wanted to fly. It stretched out its wide wings, tugged cords with its sharp beak, restless and driven by that inborn desire to soar and hunt. It wanted to fly, to be free, to glide and find fresh quarry and mountains, to be Lord of all it surveys.
Reflecting on these birds, I am aware we are lacking eagles in the church but have an abundance of parrots. Leaders content to sit safely on their evangelical perches and repeat the latest tweet, blog or book content with parrot-like gusto. Parrots like the predictable and are easily satisfied with a few seeds and loud admiration.
The church is short on eagles, those leaders who fly; folk brave enough to break free of material cages, financial safety nets, religious traditions and to soar in wonder and worship in the Holy Spirit, eagle-eyed to God's word, open to new perspectives and fearless in their desire to reach new horizons.
We need more eagles: eagle writers, eagle prophets and evangelists, eagle pastors and eagle church planters.