Category Archives: General

Beyond shame and guilt … returning to the faith free from control

Welcome

Over the last week, I have encountered a number of people exploring spirituality, who have used that well known mantra, “I am spiritual, not religious”.  I have had some quite profound conversations with a number of people that had religious experience in their youth.  Words that keep appearing in these conversations are GUILT and SHAMING.  It seems that these foundational experiences often in more conservative catholic and protestant forms of church, centred on a strong narrative of guilt and shame.  One guy talked to me of his Sunday school being about filling people with fear.   In such a climate it is not surprising that people reject such forms of church as irrelevant and dehumanising.  I have been reflecting that such an approach to church devoid of love, envisioning and the power of God’s grace, is certainly not Good News, and most definitely needs to be avoided.

It is therefore imperative that the emerging church be a real welcoming place, of hope, of envisionment and rest, and not attempt to control people emotionally in any form.  This must be a mission strategy in all that we do, if we are really to engage with contemporary culture, where, whether we like it or not, some of the church has retreated into fundamentalist and fanaticism, and often appears very angry to ordinary people.  We need to live another way of being church and being a follower of Christ, who are not obsessed with who is in and who is out, and about human sexuality….

New Book: A Generous Ecclesiology

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Really excited that this new multi-authored book is coming out edited by Julie Gittoes, Brutus Green and James Heard, with chapters by the editors and Stephen Conway the Bishop of Ely, Jonathan Clark the Bishop of Croydon, Ian Mobsby, Tom Greggs, Jeremy Morris, and Robert Thompson.

Helpfully the book seeks a generous way forward holding being the Church and doing Mission in tension.  It seeks to hold onto the insights of the books ‘For the Parish’ and ‘Mission Shaped Church Report’ and help the Church to face the challenging times we face.  This is an important book for those who care about Christianity and the balance between being experimental and contextual as well as the faith having deep roots and an ongoing tradition.   For more info click here

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Book Review: Fingerprints of Fire … Footprints of Peace by Noel Moules

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Those who know me and a great number of those involved in Alternative Worship and the Emerging Church in those heady   days of the ate 1990s will know how important an influence Noel Moules was, the Anvil Trust and the Workshop Programme. Noel’s theological and practical thinking, very much informed me at an important stage of my own faith development.

So this new book, the first and long awaited work of wisdom, explores and unpacks the Christian faith in a way that is open to all, whether never churched, dechurched or spiritual rather than religious.  I love the way it draws on the deep judeo-Christian tradition to explore the Christian spiritual tradition, and the mystery and implications of the person of Jesus in the context of the Holy Trinity.  This is a creative, artistic and gutsy book unpacking a great deal of material in an accessible way that does inspire and bring hope.

So if you are seeking a book to give you inspiration in the challenges of our times, then I do recommend this book as a good read.  To see more on the book itself click here.

If nothing else this book asks big questions and dares to explore radical answers.  It is a humble invitation to join in with a very constructive and positive understanding of the spiritual journey as a wonderful opportunity in the mystery of life.

A vote for irrelevance. The tension between Mission and Hermeneutics

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The vote by the General Synod of the Church of England last week, was in effect a vote that emphasised the churches increasing irrelevance. The Fresh Expressions initiative begun when Rowan Williams became Archbishop of Canterbury aimed to bridge the gap between Church and Contemporary Culture. Many good things have occurred, but it is clear that some parts of the Church are so far removed from

the concerns and aspirations of general society, that the Church in such forms effectively renders the wider church impotent and irrelevant. Largely I believe this is because of enormous ignorance of hermeneutics, where people do not know how to approach interpretation of the bible. In the 21st Century I find it hard to understand why people cannot see that it is inspired by God but written through people. The bible is not heavenly dictation, and must be seen through the lens of the culture the original authors lived in. Until we educate Christians to engage with the disciplines of hermeneutics rather than overly simplistic approaches to reading the bible, such Christians will always undermine attempts of the Church to reach out in contemporary mission and explore new ways of being church. I cannot understand how the women who spoke out to defend the no vote, some who are CEOs and in higher management in the City of London managing large numbers of men and women, cannot see that there is a massive inconsistency here, with a sacred secular divide that is not biblical if you apply the principles of hermeneutics. We remember this is exactly the same as what happened with Slavery and other social oppressions. We run light to hermeneutics at our peril, and I increasing can’t see how the Church will renew itself in mission if it is to be constantly undermined through fundamentalism and a lack of understanding of the principles of hermeneutics.

Host Cafe Launch Tues 27th Nov 2012, Mansion House Tube City of London

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On Tuesday 27th November 2012 the Moot Community mark one of those important milestones.  We have dreamed of running a missional arts cafe as part of our activities for at least the last 10 years with hopes for around 20 years.  Well its all happening now.  We have our official launch on Tuesday.  So if you are in London, please do come down and see what it is about between 12 and 2pm.

For details of what is happening please link here

God Unknown Book Launches – Manchester Weds 3rd Oct 7.30pm, London Thurs 11th Oct 6.30pm

Returning to first principles. The Holy Trinity in contemporary spirituality and mission

Manchester Event Information 3rd October
London Event Information 11th October

The Holy Trinity is the central reality and concept that makes Christianity a distinct faith and not a jewish cult. As such God is a missionary God that challenges the Church and all Christians to participate in this mission and ministry of reconciliation, as God seeks to restore all things into renewed relationship with the divine.  In our increasingly post-secular context where people are more interested in spirituality than religion, it is the reality of the Trinity that gives us hope and opens up the spiritual landscape of the faith to those who are un-or-dechurched.

Ian Mobsby is the Priest-in-Charge and Missioner of the Guild Church of St Mary Aldermary, the home of the Moot Community in the heart of the City of London is a New Monastic Community engaged with pioneering and creative approaches to mission and evangelism in an urban context. Ian became a Christian through a very early alternative worship community from a background in socialist Atheism.  He has written and edited a number of books on mission and contemporary society, and lectured and spoken widely across the UK, Europe, USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Ian is a member of the College of Evangelists of the Church of England, an Associate Missioner of the Fresh Expressions Team, a national selector for pioneer ministry, and the co-opted New Monastic member of the Advisory Council on the relationships between Religious Communities and Diocesan Bishops in the Church of England.

This book can be ordered from Canterbury Press here

New US Episcopal Evangelism Network

I am really excited to see that at the years General Convention, there was a commitment made to financially support and nurture new patterns of church planting, and to support the development of new forms of ministry.

This is a massive break through – so well done to Tom Brackett, Stephanie Spellers, Karen Ward and James Hamilton for this terrific result.

It reminds me of the miracle of the Mission Shaped Church Report, Bishop Mission Orders and the work done by the Church Commissioners that made the CofE far more missional in its focus in a very short time.

Well Done.  For information on this see Tom’s blog here, and the new Episcopal Evangelism Network here.

This is a major step forward in the US Episcopal Church.  The legislation which I think was drawn together by Stephanie and others not only made it through and was passed – no small feet, but I understand that they have also voted to ensure their is sufficient monies to make it happen.  That is an incredible thing and an obvious movement of the Holy Spirit.

I am amazed.  This is very exciting !!  Ian Mobsby

Speaking in Australia

Well I am now in Sydney in Australia in Paddington, catching up with friends. Tomorrow I head off to Melbourne and Bendigo to speak at an Anglican gathering and then a community called Seeds, followed by a gathering emerging church types in Melbourne. I hope this will promote exposure of the book on Ancient Faith Future Mission: New Monasticism as fresh expression of the church.

Fresh Expressions, Dechurched and Unchurched

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This week, I have had the wonderful good fortune and opportunity to be able to teach at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge MA USA, with a finale of giving the keynote speech at this years Episcopal Village Day Event at the Episcopal Cathedral in Boston.

From the discussions, I have been struck by something I had missed before.  Many of my pioneering and missioner orientated colleagues in the UK have been frustrated, that the projects they have incarnated out of hopes and dreams, seem to have started with not being able to make an impact on the totally unchurched – the primary focus, and instead have started with a ministry that began with the dechurched.

Now, it has struck me that this is my experience too in the Moot Community, something that we have faced some criticism for in the early days.  But – it has struck me, may be this is the intentions of the God outside of our own needs and desires.   Jesus himself in the Gospel, very rarely goes directly to the unchurched from a Jewish perspective – I can think of the Samaritan Woman at the well and a few others.  No, instead Jesus associated with those who were Jewish who were outside of the powerful temple system to build up a new community of disciples with jews who were very similar to the dechurched. It seems that Jesus was intentional about gathering around him a community of the dechurched, who through God’s death and resurrection are empowered to become the Apostles, and the beginning of the Church through mission to the Gentile unchurched.  May it just be that ecclesia, and the building of ecclesial communities begins with pioneer missioners building small communities of the dechurched to create deep and radical Christian community that then has the maturity to start and sustain mission and evangelism to the unchurched.

In the Moot Community we have spent 7 years building up a community of the dechurched, which now is intentionally starting out to seek to service God by reaching out missionally to the unchurched.  Maybe – focusing on the dechurched first is right strategically, as long as this then is matched by a commitment for the previously unchurched to mature into the call of seeking to serve the unchurched.

So pioneering missioners, don’t be disappointed that what you are doing seems to attract the dechurched and not the unchurched, just maybe this is the starting place to build community to be able to reach out to the unchurched effectively.  I think this is true…..

Multi-Authored New Book New Monasticism as Fresh Expressions of church

Really pleased that the new book New Monasticism as Fresh Expressions of the Church, second in the Ancient Faith Future Mission Series is now out and available. It’s a good read with a number of experienced authors in the UK and US that includes Andy Freeman from 24-7 Boiler Rooms and the Reading Reconcile Community, Ray Simpson from the Aidan and Hilda Community, Tom Sine from the Mustard Seeds House Seattle, Shane Claiborne from the Simple Way Community, Pete Askew from the Northumbria Community, Diana Kershaw from the Order of Mission, Philip Roderick and Tessa Holland from the Contemplative Fire Community, Mark Berry from the Safe Space Community in Telford, Bp Graham Cray the Archbishop’s Missioner and leader for Fresh Expressions and Abbot Stuart Burns, a leading UK Anglican Benedictine and I.  It’s a great read.

There are going to be a number of planned book launches in the UK, Australia and other places.  Ones planned so far are in London and Manchester in the first week of February.  For more information click here

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