Saturday, 10 October 2009

demise of Forge Victoria

Had an e-mail last week telling me of the closure of Forge Victoria. Very sad - or is it? Forge has been at the cutting edge in many ways helping move the practice of ministerial formation in context forwards (in my opinion). The founding director was Alan Hirsch and for twelve years they've done some good pioneering stuff. Actually, I was planning to go out there next month for my final sabbatical month this year, but changed my own plans. Obviously, I don't know the reasons why, but it does sound as if it finances are, almost inevitably, a factor. It's tough making ends meet in pioneering something, which is not, by definition, exactly universally popular. It's making me wonder to what extent any organisation, which is subversive by design, can last very long. If it's job done, then maybe it would be time to change, or conclude. Sometimes, however, the original values become subsumed by the institution it seeks to change. This, I guess, becomes pretty subjective and nigh impossible to measure, but I am often amazed by what is not so amazing because I do not it myself on a regular basis. Christians and especially those with leadership roles and responsibilities, have a great ability of thinking because we've read it, or discussed it to the point we've discovered its weaknesses, we've done it. I remember, when I was part of the Mainstream leadership team, this was a question we asked regularly and I know some would take the opinion it's done it's original job, so why carry on? Maybe Forge has done its job and passed the baton on elsewhere - if missional movement is what we're after, it's bigger than grouping, but only if the DNA is sufficiently spread to continue momentum. One school of leadership suggests the aim should be to work yourself out of a job - not sure we do too much of that if we're honest, but I still ascribe to the ideal. Problem is, with ministry, mission, church, the job is never actually done - there's no perfect churches, no completed 'to do' lists. It seems to me Jesus also lived with that tension and we can only sensibly take responsibility for what we're called to contribute, but certainly not for the whole job. This whole meandering leads me towards sadness rather than anywhere else - the 'm' word is now 'missional' and has become part of the jargon we use. The problem is I've found it's merely replacing 'mission' and the real benefit initially, it seemed to me, was to be able to talk about why it doesn't simply mean doing, etc. I wonder whether the devil is getting us to where he likes us to be - thinking we're being effective, whereas in actual fact, the ship's till going down?

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