Wednesday, 3 September 2008

christology shapes missiology shapes ecclesiology

Ivan Illich was once asked what is the most revolutionary way to change society. “Is it violent revolution, or is it gradual reform?” He gave a careful answer. “Neither. If you want to change society, you need to provide an alternative story”, he concluded.

Before we set out to change society, however, it’s always a strand in the debate concerning how much we need to change ourselves. From my perspective we need to see a load more change in the vast majority of our Churches & denominational structures, before we’re very equipped to change our communities. Surely, we of all people, don’t need an alternative story – or do we? I just wonder whether this is actually saying something to us in the Church after all. Frequently, it seems to me, our problem seems to be our assumptions. We assume we’re living out of the Christ-story, but a closer examination of the life of our Church reveals we’re more likely living out of routine and past glories. For example, as a Baptist, I passionately believe that Jesus should be at the heart of all we’re about. ‘Jesus is Lord’ is that great affirmation of faith from the New Testament, but also something at the heart of our Baptist origins: that is, Jesus is our King, not any other. Unfortunately, we have the theory, but not always the practice. As an association, we’re now looking at what we say to groups we’re working with who might be wiling to plant something new – I wont pretend we’ve developed very far, but the fact that Jesus needs to be at the heart of all we do has to be of our essence. It’s easily said, what we need to see more of is a radical willingness to live out the implications. Do we need more of the same? Hardly. That’s not to say all of our Churches are off the mark – actually far from it in many places. The increasing problem is that the slice of the population these appeal to is getting smaller and smaller.

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