I really enjoyed the consultation day today with senior clergy from around the Diocese exploring the development of emerging and fresh expressions of church. It seemed to me to be an issue of encouragement and vision, given how this tradition has much to offer the more post-secular elements centred on spiritual tourism. So we discussed what is going on in context with spiritual tourism, a Trinitarian Ecclesiology and Missiology, and models of church such as New Monasticism as a form that can live this out.
But, as usual, the issue remains about how to focus on being and doing post-Christendom activities in a church and structure that still is very Christendom. I was really impressed by Bishop Stephen of the Eastern Region, who is seeking to give real encouragement for experimentation, and helping sacramental Anglicans to explore a post-Christendom form of mission and ministry centred on apostolic creative activity.
I hope today catalyses activity and collaborative ministry amongst this very capable constituency. But it requires risk taking and experimentation.
Well, its been a while since I have done this, but I am now looking forward to going back to Australia and New Zealand. This will be probably the most complex and challenging speaking tour I have done yet. Most will be exploring the challenge of new ways of being church for various denominations, and some exploring specifically alternative worship, forms of emerging church and my new focus, new monasticism. So it does tie into my books, just the most varied groups of people I will have worked with yet.
These trips always help me to go deeper with the subjects that we explore together, and hope this year will help me in my writing of a new book on new monasticism I am writing for Paraclete Press, which is a real privilege.
So I will keep blogging here what I am up to, do check out the speaking tab if you are interested in attending elements of the tour, or to see what I am up to. So goodbye Blighty until April…
I am really pleased that this new book that I helped to organise, has come together. Its content includes chapters by Rowan Williams, Abbot Stuart Burns, Brian McLaren, Karen Ward, Phyllis Tickle, Sue Wallace, Ian Adams and others on the whole area of developing sacramental emerging & fresh expressions of church. You can preorder it now from Amazon or Canterbury Press.
I am hoping this book will help people reimagine ways of exploring sacramentality in new ways of being church. The book includes the address of Rowan Williams and the reflection of Abbot Stuart Burns at the recent Fresh Expressions of Church Pilgrimage to Coventry Cathedral on the 8th December 2008. So this will be a good read, promise!
One of the greatest criticisms of the mission shaped church report, is the lack of focus on the Kingdom of God. The danger, as the theologian John Hall has said, is that the Mission Shaped Church can become the Church Shaped Mission. Why? – because there is a difference between mission and maintaining an institution. A kingdom focus, is centred on people experiencing the narrative of God, of inclusion, justice, sufficiency, mercy and the focus on the poor. If the focus on institutional survival, then it becomes a narrative of economics, bums-on-seats, cost benefit analysis, buildings, keeping the show on the road.
There is a real difference. So governance, vision and focus are important if mission is to be Kingdom centred. Structures need to be light, (where light does not mean controlling or old school but participative, accountable and cost-effective). A vision that is focused on transformation or experience, that’s about people, not about institutions, and focus – the values and teachings of Christ.
in this way, we can avoid being church shaped mission and a mission shaped church.