Tuesday, 22 September 2009

changing landscapes

O my word, two blog entries in one day, whatever next! Today I dropped my car off to my mechanic. Sounds grand, but Martin doesn’t work solely for me – it’s just I’ve stuck with him even though his garage is in Bathampton and not round the corner and a garage you can trust is worth a bit of inconvenience I reckon. Anyway it meant I’ve been rooted in Bath for the day so visited one of our new Ministers, Mark and did some work whilst supping coffee elsewhere.

The interesting thing was listening to the phone-in on five-live about whether the UK is increasingly liberal (politically) in terms of the mind-set of its people. This reflects the comments of a few significant Liberal political figures recently, which certainly suggests this is what they believe. Now there is an interesting discussion to be had as to whether this is the time for the Liberal Democrats to make more serious in-roads into our political landscape, but that is not what interests me primarily. My interest was grabbed by the extent to which people were saying, from a wide political spectrum that our neighbours and colleagues have, in general, become increasingly ‘liberal’ in their thinking since the 1960’s in terms of the growing importance placed upon individual freedoms and responsibility. I tend to believe this is true. Now, the problem the Liberal Democratic party have is combining their appeal to individualism with corporate responsibility for government – you can please all of the people some of the time, but…..

Churches have the same dilemma, however, and the fact larger churches tend to grow at a slower rate than smaller churches (it takes more church members per baptism in a larger church on average, etc.) tends to support this. If we pay too much attention to words such as ‘leadership’, or ‘ministry’ as church leaders and not enough to words like ‘maturity’, ‘growth’, ‘development’ as they apply to individuals, we end up with a ‘system’ designed to support an organisation, which we call our local church. Too much attention seems to be paid to developing individuals in ‘ministries’ which support the organisation called church and insufficient on becoming individuals which are enabled by being called together as a church – and there’s more than a subtle difference. (NB - i know, I've made the errors myself). If, however, we are living through a transition – and most ‘post-modernity’ talk will support this claim, churches and their leaders need to key into how the landscape of individuals has changed and provide an environment, which supports their growth.

Must go now as I need to collect the car – good news this time!

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