Monday, 20 February 2017

Reefing the sails

Mark 2:27
Then Jesus said to them: "The Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath..."
When I crewed for sailing friends, I didn't particularly like it when we had to reef the mainsail - that inevitably meant we were in for a bumpy ride! Of course it made things a lot safer but it also made the boat seem heavier, more sluggish, as though it didn't like being curtailed in its movement and freedom. I enjoyed shaking out the sails when we'd come through the worst of a storm and loved the feel of  the yacht restored to full power - as it was made to be.
There is a tendency in the Church of Scotland for folks to constantly operate under reefed conditions, blaming the structure and the constitution for imposing rules that limit freedom in all sorts of ways. Jesus often pointed out to the Pharisees how laws should permit us to be free rather than curtailed - free to love, free to be generous, free to embrace the other in our midst.
The popularity of the recent content of the Chalmers Lectures, focussing on reforming the church and its structures signalled a readiness to embrace change that takes cognisance of the post-Christendom era in which the church operates today and find new ways of working that will enable congregations and individuals to embrace the culture in which we find ourselves, discovering anew God's mission in the midst of that, a mission in which God invites us to participate.
Perhaps, before we change structures we need to rediscover to what it is we are being called . Once we have discerned our place in the Mission of God, we'll be able to put things in place that support and enable that calling. When we've shaken out the sails, allowed the wind of the Spirit to take us where she will, we can then adjust the tiller and follow where she leads, working out what we need to keep us on course as we go.

Saturday, 4 February 2017

Making language work

"Putting missional on as a modifier to church missed the point in the book Missional Church because it turned the conversation back to the church. That was a mistake because it became a conversation about saving our story called church. What's happening is a massive unraveling of our church story. There is no putting that story back together. Instead as the modern church continues to die, experiments will develop as people explore the connections of gospel and culture. There they will discern Gods activity in this current culture. And what emerges will be very different." Alan Roxburgh ATCO2015

It's difficult to find descriptors for what we are about in Path of Renewal. Many of the words we are wont to use have become passé or are used in different, sometimes unhelpful ways, leading to confusion and misunderstanding.
Missional is just one of those words...
Pushed to define what we mean when we speak of being Missional perhaps we can do no better than resort to the words of the gospel:
Jesus sent his twelve harvest hands out with this charge:
"Don't begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don't try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously. Matthew 10:5-8

Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'Matthew 25:40

Doing and telling. Proclaiming the good news of the kingdom in word and action. Experimenting, not from the safety of our sanctuaries in words and rituals we've practiced and honed to attract but with tools less familiar and beyond our comfort and expertise. 
Becoming Missional seems like a slow process involving us laying down what we think we know to catch up with the new thing that God is about - Finding connections we might not have envisaged and living with the unpredictability of what the Spirit reveals of God's activity in our neighbourhoods. 

In the end, it is not the descriptors that matter so much as the evidence of our involvement, with God, in pointing to all that brings fullness of life to all of creation, starting with the communities in which we live and work.