Sunday, 6 March 2011

enterprise is only hope for growth

Oh dear, I fear this is going to do my personal credibility little good ...... I'm agreeing with David Cameron again!
Well, not exactly as he's talking about Government and I'm talking about Church, but it was the headline 'David Cameron says enterprise is the only hope for growth', which caught my eye.
Those who know me will not be surprised, I guess, but it seems to me we have to invest far more in 'the forgotten three' - apostles, prophets and evangelists.
So, when David Cameron says the 'only strategy' for growth is to get behind Britain's entrepreneurs, I confess I can hear echoes of my own voice, even though the words might be different. Surely, we need to get more behind those who can re-establish the gospel beyond the walls of the church, don't we? Unfortunately, we are rather scared about this because the majority of our church systems are geared to support those without an abundance of such gifts, which means the majority would have to forego the benefits of being on the receiving end.
I hope I am not too naive and I remain, personally, cautious about aligning myself with the political strategy of any particular party. However, there are numerous examples of how we've followed the cultural mainstream in many different generations. Because this is one huge influence upon popular culture we need to recognise it's wise to choose intentionally and not merely be blown around by every wind of doctrine, etc. Choose we may have to do though.
One of the biggest examples, in my lifetime, is the way in which the charismatic movement represented so much of what we needed to hear and respond to from God. That said, I could never deny it was not as simple as a move of the Holy Spirit as there were so many other cultural influences and responses involved - not least for younger people tired of the institutional church. I speak as one who's been happy to be called a card carrying charismatic, even though I've lost my card! I certainly don't know what such labels mean any more.
On this occasion I think those of us within the mainline denominations need to follow Cameron's line.
We don't have the financial resources to buy ourselves out of trouble.
We have a shrinking support base, which does not bode well for a monopoly of simple pastor-teacher models of ministry, tried and tested for previous generations, but increasingly found wanting in post-Christendom.
We too need the entrepreneurs, who don't depend upon full pay on day one. Of course, here's an area where it becomes very obvious our messages are far from identical!
We need to discover some new sustainable means for developing Christian communities.
We also need to find ways to rid Ministers and Churches being bogged down by the 'enemies of enterprise' (rules and regulations etc - cf how much energy is sucked from churches on health & safety, abiding by charity commissioners and other regulatory bodies). If the Tories can take on the bureaucrats, why should Baptists forget their heritage and leave it to the establishment. Unless, of course, we have too much vested in being the establishment ourselves.
We also need to acknowledge our 'enterprise is not just an economic/spiritual (depending on whether you're a Conservative, or a Baptist!!!)  good. it's a social good'. I've been struck recently by The Message translation of Isa. 58:12 'make the community liveable again'.
Oh well, that's what comes of being too shattered to get out to church tonight!

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