Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Building a Mission Shaped Church
Really good day at a conference on 'Building a Mission Shaped Church' with Steve Croft who runs Fresh Expressions. There were some great stories, from which I enjoy stealing ideas. There is the church in Norwich which has 're-branded' itself as a Center for Spirituality and runs a course helping people to look at their spirituality. Only at the end do they offer an introduction to Christianity and the Christian tradition of prayer and mysticism. Also the church in Canterbury that runs a mid-week Breakfast club where as well as breakfast there is a discussion of a life-issue which leads into prayer. I think these are being done around the country, so if you get the chance do go! Otherwise check out the Fresh Expressions site and download the training day material.
As well as good stories there were good questions arising from the day. How to tell a fresh expression of church from an evangelistic tool; how to deepen discipleship within a fresh expression; how to forge links between a fresh expression and the wider church. All very important and signs that thinking has moved on and deepened since the Mission Shaped Church report.
Three images from the day that will stay with me:
1. Just as lorries change down gears to get the power to go uphill, so the church needs to change down gear and have more space and time for rest and reflection if it is to get through this difficult time in its history.
2. The church is called to model itself on the incarnation (and not, as some suggest, on the Trinity)
3. Growth and direction arise out of times of uncertainty and frustration.
Shame about the decidedly un-mission shaped church pews (decidedly un-bum-friendly at any rate).