Norman Ivison summarises seven misconceptions about Fresh Expressions of Church. They are well worth reading, since many of these are often heard from seasoned churchgoers who are reluctant to support new, culturally relevant ways of reaching people for whom church as we know it is a foreign country.
Here is the Anglican video he mentions:
This is not an argument that we should turn our religious buildings into museums – too often we default into that approach anyway! But this is to ask, what happens when we engage with the history of our area and particular the history of the Christian movement in our area? Could it be that we learn lessons for today?
To that end, here is a video which looks at some of the history of Christianity in the north east of England, and makes connection with God’s mission in today’s world. See whether these stories inspire you.
Forest by Moyan Brenn on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
How do we engage with environmental concerns in worship and in mission. One recent movement in this area is called ‘Forest Church‘. Read this article, which is an extended version of a piece that appeared in the Church Times. It will probably engender a range of opinions, since a wide range of Christians are quoted in the article. At one end are more conservative thinkers such as John Bimson and Richard Bauckham. But elsewhere on the spectrum are some who believe in panentheism, and others who seem friendly towards paganism (neither of which have tended to be deemed acceptable in classical Christianity).
So what do you make of this? Is it a vital approach in engaging with green issues, both for Christians and as a witness? Does it embrace Paul’s missionary principle of ‘being all things to all people in order that I might save some’? Does it embrace new approaches to Christianity that we badly need? Or is it on a slippery slope?
And regardless of your opinions about this article, how do you believe Christians should engage with these matters as part of our mission?
Do you want church to relate to those who are not used to church culture? You could do a lot worse than sign up to take the Mission Shaped Ministry course from Fresh Expressions. Here is one commendation from an Anglican pioneer minister in Kent.
Here are the testimonies of some people who did the course in Adelaide, Australia:
Pubs in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire by Brokentaco on Flickr. Some rights reserved.
Well, you might not have expected a title like that from a Methodist-founded blog 🙂 but Pub Theology provides the opportunity for people to meet in a neutral venue – a so-called ‘Third Place‘ – and discuss important issues from perspectives of faith, doubt and no faith. Rob Ryan says:
Tonight was a great experience as people shared, discussed, disagreed … and all left after a couple of drinks still being friends. I always wonder after a pub theo why ‘the wider church’ can’t manage to discuss contentious issues in the same respectful way.
Where could you meet in a Third Place? Whom would you invite? What would you discuss?