Friday, 5 February 2010

borderland churches

I'm reading 'Borderland Churches' by Gary Nelson at present and must admit find his language really stimulating. He's writing from a Canadian perspective and saying similar things to a growing number on the missional journey, but brings a freshness with him.
Not only that, I like the 'borderlands' word.
Some of my Scottish friends speak highly of his accompanying workshop type materials.
I was thinking about something he says around our rediscovering our missional mandate as the church creates possibilities for the difficult work of shaping ministry to a particular context. "The only foundational hope for purposeful engagement of the borderlands dweller is the appearance of a visible and faithfully engaged church in the life of its communities and neighbourhoods. When that occurs, the church becomes a unique and distinct missional presence."
It struck me how the missional question is serving to find some meaningful expressions to the healing of the old evangelism v social action divide which was a big feature of conversation in the 1980's when I first discovered words like 'theology'. What is concerning me simultaneously, however, is the potential re-emergence of the old liberal v evangelical divides, which were often perceived unhelpfully as behind the different arguments. I hope we can avoid some of the squabbles in the US where the arguments over emergent, emerging, etc strike me as being singularly un-helpful in our contexts. When the US speak about post-Christendom they do so from a place where Christendom still has a power (and a willingness to yield it), which is no longer the case in the UK, except in a few isolated remnant areas.

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