Thursday, 14 April 2016

Culture of Experimentation

Acts 1:6-8
The Ascension of Jesus
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Whenever I speak to groups about Path of Renewal, I try to make it clear that this Pilot Project is just one of a number of experiments being supported by the church in Scotland:
In response to a changing culture, the national church is fostering a climate of permission giving, recognising that the Pilots being trialled may lead us into territory that we have long avoided exploring.
And, particularly when it is recognised at the outset that few of these experiments, if any, are likely to result in an increase in church membership, we begin to gauge something of the brave new era in which the church finds itself. Indeed, finding new ways of "being church" may, in fact, in some respects, undermine the institution.
Is it true, as some suggest, that 500 years on from the Reformation, we are on the brink of another major shake up?
Has the global, digital age of communication and the, almost universal, access to informed debate on religion and science (among other things) forced us to rethink kingdom priorities?
Has the war on terrorism and unprecedented migration provided a new urgency to live out the great commandment to love God and neighbour?
Is being welcoming, invitational or affirming simply not enough in the midst of the diversity encountered in many communities today?
So many variables demand a plethora of responses, some of which are probably still inconceivable.
But an openness to the winds of the Spirit heralding change alongside the willingness to embrace and learn from failure seems like a healthy place to be - the sort of environment in which God has space to surprise us with unfailing love and grace and draw us into the mission of God in the world.
"To the ends of the earth" may well begin right where we are!

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