Thursday, 28 October 2010

missionary renewal?

and so today i make my long overdue return to the blogosphere. I have reflected for a few moments this afternoon about why i haven't blogged for so long and wondered whether other bloggers can empathize. Is it because i seem to have so little time in paid ministry to reflect and evaluate? Is it because i want to use a blog as a kind of journal but if i'm honest about stuff people would get offended so it all has to be a little false? is it actually because i kept forgetting? Is it because i am devoid of anything remotely engaging to think/write about? Who knows. What i do know is that somethings have shifted in my understanding of the process of chruch renewal.

We have a new superintendent minister in our circuit, he seems driven, passionate, dedicated, and appears totally consumed with the practice of mission and evangelism. Already just two months into this new connexional year with new staffing our circuit and leaders are altering the way they think about church - its great to see - and of course i am also being challenged and shaped by that wonderful gift a new entrant to a sitiation brings - naievity - false or real - about the current situations we are engaged in.

All of this co-incides with our church exploring what it means to be a church engaged in evangelism. (we have separated 'Mission' into social justice/proclamation gospel not because they are disconnected but because its easy to avoid the responsibility to speak of the Gospel when its bound up with practical caring/sharing). Of course as we have focussed on equipping and resourcing our church to reach and engage new people it can't help but allow us to reflect on what type of church we are. Are we welcoming and friendly? Is our church building attractive? Are our events engaging and inspiring? Are we accessible to people who have no church experience? Are our members equipped and suitably discipled enough to feel confident in the missionary task? What is church about anyway? are all questions that have arised directly from this autumnal focus on evangelism.

Perhaps most of all though is the cutting truth that Jesus is about building His church - we are about disciple-making. I reflect on a programme of church renewal and transition which i have driven and led over the last four years and i painfully ask myself - if we had engaged in mission from the first - caring for people and sharing with them good news about Jesus would we be further on in our process of transition? Would our missiology have driven our ecclesiologoical change much quicker? Am i better to get on with disciple-making and let Jesus build the church? - a hard question for someone who has been consumed with building a 'better' church over the last four years.

I love the headline on Andy Frost's book (pic) 'the church has left the buidling'. Could it be that as we are consumed by leaving the building and engaging in a missionary goal that God shapes and remoulds us on that hourney of mission and that its in the going that we ourselves are made more into Christ-like disciples and consequently Jesus is indeed building His church?

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