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Spring Harvest 2012: Church Actually »« Spring Harvest: Church Actually Day 4

Spring Harvest: Church Actually Day 5

On Day 5 the image of the church we were looking at was the bride of Christ. Back in the Think zone Graham Cray was unpacking this:

The Bride in the Gospels

When Jesus referred to himself as the bridegroom people would have got the allusion to Yahweh as the wife of Israel.

The Bride in Revelation

In Revelation the bride who has made herself ready is from every tribe and nation – their cultures are still present not absorbed into a mono-culture of the church. New Jerusalem is a perfect cube because the Holy of Holies was a perfect cube – the jewels are the jewels of the high priest. The church is a sign, instrument and foretaste of the kingdom, united but not uniform, reaching, blessing and completing the whole human race.

The Bride in Ephesians

We can see this unity throughout the book of Ephesians as the barriers and broken down and God’s wisdom demonstrated, the body is built on unity and the bride is pure and beautiful. Even the last chapter is about the church standing as one warrior not about individuals fighting their own spiritual battles.

Welcoming is more than greeting people

An important application of this diversity of culture Graham Cray explained is how a church exists for the place it is located not just for its members. The idea of ‘place’ is more complex that we think – it’s not just a meeting place – but the cultural context of all its members and activities. To be welcoming we need to adapt how we do things to that culture. This is part of hospitality. This might mean forming our worship to give people opportunity to worship in relevant ways.

This fitted in well with a point in his seminar on Fresh Expressions. There Graham Cray had suggested a pattern for mission of first listening, then serving, then forming community with people and then developing discipleship. He had seen that doing all this with an end in sight can mean that the church is built. As I understood it adapting the way we do things is part of or a result of the listening process.

Observations

A couple of observations of our times that came out of the question time at the end are worth noting:

Ruth Valerio commented that the church in recapturing its zeal for social justice and local mission may have lost some of its zeal for overseas missions

Graham Cray observed that in the 20th century the evangelical church had become bored with prayer but our zeal for prayer had been recaptured recently with the 24/7 prayer movement and the intercessory groups for street pastors.

June 12, 2012 at 6:00 pm
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