Thursday, 2 March 2017

Honest wrestling

2 Corinthians 4:1-2 (The Message)
Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we're not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don't maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don't twist God's Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God.
One of the things I probably love best about Path of Renewal is the, sometimes brutal, honesty of the ministers who are currently grappling with the question of how to be church today, each in their different contexts, each attempting to discern where God is already at work. These are ministers who are not afraid of speaking the truth about how difficult becoming Missional really is. Ministers who are not about to lure others into a false sense of ease. Ministers who are prepared to admit that, every time they think they might just have "got it" something shifts and they have to start again, albeit from a slightly different place with, perhaps, just a little more understanding of what it is we are about. Ministers who understand that seeking to transform the inherited model of church, changing mindsets, begins with our personal transformation.
In spite of all the challenges, however, all of those who have engaged with Path of Renewal are committed to staying the course, journeying on, making the most of the glimpses of God along the way.
Today we shared a little of that in a conference looking at the church in a secular age, at which there was a great mix of practitioners from different denominations, with differing theologies and involving lots of partnerships and agents of change.
One of my favourite moments of today's conference came when one of the Path of Renewal ministers said: "Starting Path of Renewal was like having a very large boot removed from my spiritual throat."
Another minister shared the realisation that it might be more helpful to be slightly inept as a congregational leader - that makes it more natural to enable others and make space for them to discover and exercise their own gifts and calling. (Some would call that skilled ministry)
Today's conference was the second of two conferences with Stefan Paas, a Dutch theologian who shared his research, insights, reflections and practical experience of Pioneering ministry and church planting. It was affirming to hear so many of the struggles we are experiencing in the church in Scotland reflected in the European context and to consider the wrestling we must continue to do together. And it's good to do that with folk who are brutally honest about the complexity and sometimes hostility of the road ahead.

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