Being a Missional Christian

I just wandered over to Lesley’s blog and came across this classic clip from Monty Python.  Haven’t laughed so hard in ages.

It got me thinking.  As a church we can spend a lot of time trying not to be seen.  Hiding out.  Keeping our mouthes shut.

Mr Nesbitt has learnt the value of not being seen. However he has chosen a very obvious piece of cover.

Becomining Missional

Gavin Tyte has written a blog over at Share The Guide.  The premise is that:

If the Church of England is going to survive and if God has a plan to reach everyone in our communities, then the local parish church is going to have to become missional.

When read in one direction this is a call to mission for the faithful.  However, it could be read as a quite condemnatory statement for all of those parishes engaged in mission.  Through a lot of the conversations I have had in the last few months I realise that people often operate with a view of the whole church based upon a caricature of some of our worst experiences.

Gavin goes on to make three brilliant suggestions.

Preach the mission

The preaching and communication of the church needs to hold a steady course and be consistent in every area – whether Sunday services, website, weekly newsletter, meetings or conversation.

We will only ever realise our potential to engage with God’s plan if we are consistently reminded of the purpose of the church.  We have a clearly defined role – to declare the good news of Jesus resurrection and our restoration to the Kingdom of God and to work towards a better world.  We need to keep reminding ourselves of our role in God’s mission so that we keep focus.  This isn’t a role God has for our “evangelists”, it is a role for the whole church.

Make the move from groups to teams

If the Church of England is going to survive and if God has a plan to reach everyone in our communities, then the local parish church is going to have to become missionalLook at the existing groups in the church, such as Mothers’ Union, and re-brand them as teams – each with a missional purpose. Start providing training for the team leaders in how to invite people to join in with the mission of God in the world. I want each of these teams to be able to invite people to ‘join in’ with what God is doing and come to know Jesus. Some of these teams may well grow into fresh expressions of church.

The only way we can achieve the task God has set us is if we work together.  The Apostle Paul’s vision of the church is that we no longer view ourselves as individuals but as family.  That is why he refers to us all as brothers.  Adopted brothers had legal rights and responsibilities from and to the family.

To re-brand the church as a team rather than a group (and as Gavin says, those smaller units within the church) it emphasises the outward focussed nature of the church and even the name reminds us that there is a task.  We no longer gather together with an inward looking focus and ownership to emphasise an outward looking view.  We move from “come and join our group” to “come and be part of the team”.  I love that Gavin has used the Mother’s Union as his example.  It shows that we can retain a sensitivity to those who have walked this path before us.

Grow leaders of congregations instead of leaders of services

In many parishes, there is a great emphasis on church services. However, if we are to reach our communities then we are going to need to equip, empower and release people to lead new communities of faith. Rather than planting churches that are clones of the parent, we need to seed new congregations.

At the moment I can identify four separate congregations meeting under the banner of Uplyme Church – each holding gatherings at different times. It is my hope that we grow and develop a leader for each of these congregations; not just to deliver services, but to nurture, teach and develop each congregation as a missional community.

And here at the heart of what Gavin says is an emphasis on people.  We find that people are equipped and empowered to take control of their own destiny.  Through this we will develop a sense of ownership of our place within the mission of the church.  We can then develop as missional communities rather than passivity and a missional leader brought in from outside.  Surely this would be a much more effective missional model of church.

Emerging Church is just a Marketing Phenomenon

I loaded up twitter for a quick brows with my lunch and this headline was at the top of the page.  Kester Brewin has written an article about this harsh critique of the emerging church by Brad Johnson.

One of the worries I have about ’emerging church’ is that some people view it as “the next thing that is going to save the church”.  This can lead some people from the outside to see emerging church as just another way of packaging the church.  I worry that some want to buy the book and run the ’emerging church course’ in their local church.

When ’emerging church’ is viewed through this lens, it “is a marketing phenomenon”.  But I suggest that misses the point of the ’emerging church’.  However, with this view the term has been misappropriated.  It has been taken by those who want to claim it for themselves.  It is like that church we all have in our towns that claim to be ‘the one true voice of the gospel’.  It is like the ‘Christian party’ that stood in the general election here in the UK.  It is riding roughshod over the rest of us as we stand back wondering what happened.

St Arnold’s and The President

St Arnold’s had a visit on Monday night from the President of The Methodist Conference.  Check out the blog here.

Wish I had nicked off PCC and gone now =D

A Fresh Expression of Wedding

A friend posted this up on facebook.  It is an article about a Japanese wedding in which the priest was a robot.  It is hilarious.

Fresh Expressions in The Times

It would seem that Fresh Expressions are starting to become more mainstream.  There is an article in The Times today about a variety of different ‘valid’ churches.

 Is this your idea of church? Possibly not, but each is a valid “fresh expression of church” that has sprung up in the past five years.

The Fun Theory

I just had lunch with a colleague.  One of the things we have noticed as we travel through life is that misery loves company.  Sometimes it would seem to us that misery loves company when we are in church as well.  We have people who enforce all sorts of crazy rules in a dictatorial fashion.  We also have some quite important rules that it would seem need to be followed.  However, we seem to enforce these rules in an arbitrary manner with no explanation.  So what if we encouraged people to think differently in church?  What if we did things differently?….

http://www.thefuntheory.com/

Surely there must be a practical application of fun in our church lives.  Surely God doesn’t want us all to be miserable.  Surely smiling is allowed.

How could this be applied to our churches?

Tabled – Creative Communion Ideas

In my experience one of the first things that people drop when they think about alt. worship is the sacramental aspects of worship.  That said, there are some services such as Visions in York that engage in sacramental alt. worship.

Often resources for alt. worship do not facilitate the sacramental.  This is where my wife comes into the story.  She stumbled upon a site called Tabled.

Tabled.ca is a collection of creative communion installations created with the hope of capturing the imagination and exploring the beauty and gravity of the Eucharist. Birthed within community, this group will be added to as creativity and purpose allows.

Their imagery is stunning and their ideas are very creative.

C.S. Lewis once said that what the church needs is not better arguments, but better metaphors.

Jesus gave us some wonderful metaphors, lets use them!

Religious Freedom and Liberty

Sorry I haven’t blogged in a long time.  Life has been really busy for the moment.  I have only just got around to watching the programme “Are Christians Being Persecuted”, a documentary shown on the BBC at Easter.  I was expecting a sensationalist view in either direction as people seem to like shouting.  I wasn’t expecting the even handed treatment that people from all sides were given.

One of the most compelling  quotes was about one of the darkest periods of the Church’s history and comes from the Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks.

“Rights are a good thing. And they arose, really, in England in the 17th century after a century of religious warfare throughout Europe when, to put it bluntly, Protestants and Catholics were killing one another. So the major question was, how can people of strongly conflicting religious beliefs live peaceably together?”

“People stopped saying ‘Religious belief is supremely important, therefore everyone should have my religious faith.’ to saying ‘Religious faith is extremely important, so everyone should have the right to the faith that they, in conscience, believe.’ And with that one simple move, religion turned into a friend of liberty instead of being its enemy. That’s why it’s ironic when rights themselves become a threat to religious liberty.”

And on a personal level, I’ll try to be a better blogger.