Friday, 27 November 2009

the demise of RUN

Well, I'm at the end of my sabbatical and need to clear out my study and case ready for next week, but there are always so many more interesting things to do! I began my sabbatical by sending a brief to our officers group which ended 'you'll see from the above this is characteristically unrealistic' (or words to that effect). Well, so it has proved! But what are sabbaticals for? If they're to do 'work' then I've failed hopelessly - not that I've been lazy, far from it, although I've had a lot more space for things which too easily get squeezed out normally. If they're to create work, I've accumulated a list as long as my arm (average length apparently). I now have a book unfinished with no publisher, I'm contemplating starting a DMin (was definitely not doing another degree) and a list of projects, things to consider, look at and implement. It's just as well I believe a characteristic of any Minister is the need to live contentedly in the tension of unfinished business.
Some bad news - certainly from my perspective on the face of it - is the demise of RUN. I had the e-mailed news last week along with many others telling us they'll close at the end of the year after 15 years. As with the Forge news from Australia, financial sustainability is a significant factor. They point out alot has changed in last 15 years and people now glean resources from a wide variety of sources in our challenge to reach the unchurched. Also, they highlight the fact that many other organisations have sprung up with similar aims, which tends to dissipate energy.
So, does it matter? Does this signify the missional thing was just a fad along with many other fashionable trends within the church? Have we really come so far that RUN are indispensable?
Time will tell, but part of my own anxiety is related to the use of language. The word 'missional' has become part of our language. within a few years we've moved from people raising eyebrows - 'didn't you mean mission?' - to replacing their old word (mission) with a new word (missional). My question remains - is language all that's changed? Those of us called to earn a living from the church know this problem only too well - we think we've done something because we've discussed and talked about it. My hunch is we've lulled ourselves into a false sense of security again - as people used to say 'if everything is mission then nothing is mission.' We've simply changed the word.
So, I do care about the demise of RUN. I'm sorry for Chris Stoddart especially, but also the others too - all who have such a heart for this massive area of unfinished business.

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