empowered by the spirit for mission

Spring Harvest: Church Actually Day 4

I really enjoyed the Lead Zone so I returned for another session on the day we were looking at the church being the body of Christ – relating together and serving.

Working together for peace

Today Juliet Kilpin read Jeremiah 29:4-7

This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says to all those I carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.

‘Do good to the place you are in’, she said, ‘Bring all your experience of God to that place to make it better.’ This is a key passage as to how Christians are relate to the changes that are taking plae in society. The Hebrew word for peace is Shalom meaning wholeness – it is claiming heaven on earth – the New Testement calls it the Kingdom.

The church is on an adventure to live out today what could be in the future! This is an adventure because we are following a trouble maker – he was hated and killed beacause he made others feel uncomfortable. This adventure binds us together in communitas or camaraderie

Comparing the church to movements such as the occupy movement and the Arab Spring, Juliet Kilpin observed that these movements were very flat and asked if the church needs such a hierarchy.

The importance of relationships

Viv Thomas saw success as coming from God enabling us to take risks. Failure is fantastic – our success comes from God – don’t take yourself too seriously.

He also saw being fully alive as being alive in God and coming from our relationships with others rather than in self-actualizing. We are defined by our relationships not our achievements.

Authority comes out of loving relationships – not control – leadership is often about relinquishing control and asking questions.

Jesus made a point of relating to all sorts especially those on the margins.

Mission to the marginalised

Juliet Kilpin finally outlined the work of Urban Expressions who have teams that move into inner city areas to reach the poor and marginalised and some have even planted churches. In 2008 there was a tipping point and there are now more people in the world that live in cities than don’t. Christians tend to love in suburbs but more people live in urban areas in our cities. She exhorted us, even if our calling is not to the cities, to care for the poor and marginalised.

May 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

Spring Harvest: Church Actually Day 3

On Day 3 I went to the Lead Zone with Viv Thomas of Formation and Juliet Kilpin of Urban Expression and is also involved in Crucible Course a training course.

Viv Thomas identified six waves of our present cultural context that are moving through the church that can be found in his article here.

1.Increase in cleverness, decrease in wisdom. He said that we were in the least discerning place of the last thousand years.

2.‘quick fix’ mentality – a processed food culture – overeating but undernourished – the sin of impatience masquerading as faith.

3.Increase in distraction – he discussed the rise of the dumbest generation!

4.Increased focus on relationships- by 2060 40% of homes will be individuals on their own – people are lonely and desiring relationship.

5.Thankfully we are less judgmental as we are more able to pick up parts of the story from other places and put things together ourselves.

6.Increased emphasis on feelings and experience and less on doctrine as people don’t know the Bible so well.

Remember the word Ecclesia referred to an assembly before it was used by the Christian church Juliet Kilpin took the Occupy movement as a contemporary example of Ecclesia. In elaborating this parallel she referred to a quote that has been attributed to Margaret Meede “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” There is more about her experiences with the Occupy movement here on her blog.

One comment that Viv Thomas made was that though we can gain a lot out of preparing material for others there is a place for meditating on scriptures just for ourselves as Ignatian meditation outlines in Spiritual excercies by Ignatious Loyola.

I also liked his reference to openness and vulnerability about our failings being an important part of the confessional life.

May 15, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)

Spring Harvest: Church Actually Day 2

Over the next few weeks I want to blog some of my notes the four morning teaching sessions at Spring Harvest where I went between the Think zone and the Lead zone.

Day 1 was travelling and settling in. On Day 2 I went to the Think zone led by Graham Cray of Fresh Expressions – a network involved in forming churches primarily for those who are not yet part of any church and Ruth Valerio of the environmental agency A Rocha.

Shining as lights

The theme of the week was the Church. Graham Cray commented that of the hundred plus metaphors in the Bible for church we will look at just four – shining like lights, the community of the Holy Spirit, the body and the bride. He then pointing out that the Greek word Ekklesia was in common usage before it was used by Christians to refer to the church. An Ekklessia was democratic assembly of citizens that begin with prayers and sacrifice. The Hebrew word Qahal translated in Septuagint as Ekklessia referred to the Hebrew people as a “called people”.

A Missional community

In this first session Graham Cray looked at the image of the church as shining like lights by examining the doctrine of the church as a missional community.  The term ‘missional’ was coined by a group of theologians in response to Leslie Newbigin twenty years ago. It refers to part of the essential to nature of church which is authentic engagement with our culture. The Church of Scotland report used the term ‘church without walls’. Graham Cray quoted Tim Dearborne “the church of God does not have a mission – the God of mission has a church”

One manifestation of the Kingdom

Ruth Valerio then looked at theKingdomofGodseeing Jesus acts as proleptic collapsing the future into the present.  She pointed out that we often get kingdom theology just from Isaiah and Daniel, but Psalms in its creational theology shows us the kingdom related to the cosmos not just to humans. Similarly in the Lord’s Prayer we pray for the kingdom to come on earth which has a wider meaning than just in the lives of humans.  She quoted Lesley Newbigin who described the church as “manifesting and enjoying already in the midst of the messianic tribulations a genuine foretaste of the peace and joy of God’s reign”.

The image of a prism

A key image that was explored during the week was that of a prism. It was explained how as God’s grace shines through the prism of the church it is refracted into many gifts and vocations. A useful comment about vocation was that it is what God has focused your life on. This may be directed through your job or be tangential to your job. The church needs to involve cultivation – enabling people to find their gifts and vocation.

May 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm Comment (1)