Friday, July 13, 2018

Future investment?

Two articles worth reading and reflecting on, with special reference to the future mission and ministry of ACANZP:

The Guardian first reports on the CofE spending 27m pounds on 100 new style churches, here.

Then, also in the Guardian, Christina Rees reflects on changes coming and needed for the new millennium, here.

This is the money quote for us Down Under to reflect on:

"But these initiatives need to be part of a bigger sea change in how the church approaches its work. The pattern of priests in single parishes may have served the church and the country well for hundreds of years, but society has changed.
This parish structure, with 16,000 churches, is failing because younger people are not joining churches. They do not have a pattern of going to services on a Sunday morning or evening. Rural areas recently have had some priests in charge of 12 or more parishes – with almost as many church buildings, many ancient and crumbling, all in need of heating and maintaining.
If the church wants to survive, and thrive, it will need to see itself in a new light – more responsive, and willing to embrace how people live today. Most people, especially young people, don’t want to have to step through the doorway of a church to engage with the big issues of life. They don’t want to sit in pews on Sunday mornings to listen to a sermon or a set, age-old liturgy. They want to know how to navigate the complexities of their lives and how to address their deepest longings, doubts and fears. And they want to feel safe.
So the whole church will have to become much more interactive and flexible. The pattern for the future may well look a lot more like the early church, with small groups meeting in each other’s homes."

And for someone in my role, as Director of Education in a Diocese, there is this challenge:

"A different way of working will demand different skills and talents, and therefore new ways of training clergy, who will need to learn to communicate without jargon and without any assumptions of a shared knowledge of the faith. They will need to be able to offer coherent Christian perspectives on contemporary issues and events, and expect lively debate."


Jean said...

Hi Peter

The latter articles is pertinent. I am unsure about changes structures and if that would make a huge difference although I am in favour of ‘house groups’. The barriers in our rural church do relate to style of worship but also attitudes towards children and behavioural expectations when there is not set programme for them. Yet I believe that last paragraph to be the most important there is no longer an understanding among many Kiwi’s from the Baby Boomers and below of Christianity and so not only do Church services appear to be unusual or foreign the assumption people will know what one is talking about especially if ‘churchy’ language is used needs to be set aside. I remember attending an EFM course in Wgtn with a friend and we were often in hysterics over the words we didn’t know and their meanings and we were both brought up attending Anglican churches!

One observation of late is the increase in people experiencing problems or interactions with evil spirits. I know this sounds out of sync with our kiwi prosaic world, however, I have know an example of this in recent times in our local area. In one case the family (not Christian) were prepared to sell their house and tried a Medium which didn’t work, before being put in touch with a local Minister. After prayers by the Minister they had no more problems. I think this type of experience is likely to increase with the growing interest in New Age spirituality alongside the ‘abscense’ of Christianity. It isn’t perhaps something we are too familiar with in Western society but those Christian’s I know from countries in Asia used to talk about such things as though they were an everyday part of Christian living.

Take Care

Jean said...

Hmm I just realised my last comment above was a bit dislocated. The reason it came to mind was the Minister was in a position of explaining to the couple such things as there are good spirits and evil spirits and just why Jesus was able to deliver them from evil spirits alongside the understanding that there needs to be changes inin order to remain free (like you can empty a house but if it isn’t filled with something different a.k.a. Jesus/Holy Spirit then the spirit will return). Imagine explaining that to someone that hasn’t ever been to Church and doesn’t understand the lingo!

Father Ron said...

"If the Church wants to thrive and survive, it needs to see itself in a new light".

Thanks Peter, for ths new and refreshing understanding about the Church of England - and about all Churches - that to survive will involve taking note of a new reality - a world which needs to experience the Church as productive of a theology that actually deals with today's realities, unencumbered by the past. One of these realities is the FACT that people no longer are willing to subscribe to pre-enlightenment shibboleths about human behaviour that are contrary to actual experience of life as ity is lived in our world of today.

The Scriptures are full of incidents of legalistic injunctions which were - in the light of truth - plainly unjust. One only has to read of Jesus' stand against the exigencies of the Scribes' and Pharisees' interpretations of 'The Law' that were plainly unmitigated by the implicit love and mercy of Yahweh, but which were applied nevertheless, with no compunction as to the circumstances in which the 'sinner' was 'breaking' The Law. The Sabbath Law and its hypocritical 'observation' by even the Keepers of The Law, was only one example. Jesus implied quite strongly that the Sabbath (Law) was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. True Justice demands Mercy!

Perhaps this is why the Creator has made us all so different, so that Mercy might be applied to (and by) each one of us in our particular created state and status towards ourselves and one another . Jesus clearly wanted to emphasise the basic premise of our working relationship to God and to one another in the New Commandment - which was based on Jesus' own fulflment of The Law as it then existed - that we were to Love God first; and then to love our neighbour 'as ourselves' - with the implication that each one of us in our different status and station in life was created to love and be loved.

This is why religion without the capability of accepting one another 'in Christ' as the 'image and likeness of God' is nothing short of blasphemy. To consider one's-self as more holy than another before God is to forget that "of ourselves, we have no power to help ourselves, and The Truth is not in us". This is also why the Christian life-style has been likened to "One poor man showing another poor man where to find bread". When we point a finger at another person's faults, there are other fingers pointed directly at us. The reality is that Christ only has sinners to preach the Gospel. This is why the great Preachers of the past (Francis, Clare, Dominic and others) were so powerful in their witness to the Love of God in Christ - a charism that seems today to have been overcome by a legalism that never wooed a single person into te Kingdom of God. The Church that insists on Law over Love can never be attractive to a person of a modicum of intelligence - capable of reason.

Bryden Black said...

You should have been a fly on the wall of our Sunday afternoon meetings at Port Melbourne in the 1990s, Peter. Coffee - lots of! - kicked things off with scrolls etc to eat (even the young Friday youth members turned up for free feed!); some opening songs and/or music; a reading or two; a 4-5 min primer by one of the leadership, who then fielded as open Q&A arising from it all that lasted some 30-40 min depending. The Agape Meal/Euch then followed 3 out of 4. But that's not all: On the Run Youth was Friday's, with Op Shop congregations 3-4 times a week. The entire ethos revolved around a community development model. Fitting for a most transient inner city pop'n. Curiously they now see it as a version of "messy church". For us it were just the Church!

Peter Carrell said...

Excellent, Bryden, and shades of 2010s Salt and light here in Chch!