Tuesday, 15 July 2008

the forgotten ways

Well, it was a great day for me. Our Leaders Day today was held at Clevedon with Alan Hirsch (a great guy in my book) and I pray it'll prove to be formative for a number of others. I knew it was a key time for holidays and quite a number of our folk had said they couldn't come along for that reason. We more than made up for that with a variety of guests who'd bothered to travel to be with us - great to have them all along. Alan was really challenging so it'll be interesting to hear how everyone else has responded. Hopefully, most people wont have an issue with thinking it must be different in Australia as talking with Sandy and Alan afterwards it would seem that we're in a similar place in very many ways. It's also obvious that UK Baptists and Australian Churches of Christ have many similarities too. In many ways Alan went through some of the main thrusts of 'The Forgotten Ways' - why am surprised so few of our guys have read this? One of the things he said, almost in passing, was 'the language obscures the reality'. I can't help thinking how true this is from my perspective. We use the language of discipleship and assume that equates to doing it, but how many Churches have any real plan for discipleship beyond Alpha? We preach missionally in some respects, but how many Churches effectively plan out the opportunities for their core? 
My hunch is those hearing Alan's stuff for the first time have some choices to make - one will be: do I put it in the bin marked 'been there, done that' on the basis of thinking understanding equates with doing. Big mistake - if my observations of Baptist Churches is anything to go on. I'm glad he spent some time highlighting the problem too - we need to be shaken out of complacency because our reality is most 'growing' Churches are doing so on the basis of transfers in from existing Christians. Martin Robinson has let me in, via the back door, to the Together in Mission Summer School later this week which Alan came over to speak at so I'll hear some of it again no doubt. That's deliberate because I think he has a number of things we really need to hear and, with me, some stuff takes a while to sink in for it to get deeper than merely touching my mind. My hunch is we need to find some more pathways to help people implement some of the lessons and I'm now wondering 'how'?  
Afterwards we had a good chat over a meal, which is always a good way get deeper still.

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