Saturday, August 8, 2009

Rethink Church

What if church wasn’t just a building, but thousands of doors? Each of them opening up to a different concept or experience of church – and a journey that could change our world. Would you come?

In May of this year, the United Methodist church launched a major new campaign called RETHINK CHURCH. The campaign aims to spark a global conversation around the rhetorical question, “What if church were a verb?”

Backed by a different sort of Church web-site 10Thousand doors demonstrates the diversity and vitality of Christian Discipleship which helps to shatter the illusion that Church is intended to be a one hour a week Sunday affair.

According to the UMC Website,

‘The grand hope is to spark a global conversation about what it means to live as a person of faith, a disciple of Jesus Christ, in the 21st century. If the campaign is successful, it will be the catalyst for a radical return to understanding of what the gospel means to us today.’

And yes.. I’m jealous, I want in.

I want the Churches in which I minister to have access to the sort of global, dynamic creativity that can launch and resource such a campaign. Ministering in a Church which welcomes members from all over the world, from Korea to Ghana, South Africa to Sierra-Leone, Germany to Florida.. makes me long for a more global approach to the mission, ministry and discipleship of our Church which is more than being ‘in Partnership’ with fellow Christians.

Here in the UK we have valid contributions we can make which would be warmly welcomed and appreciated – especially by fellow Methodists in Europe and Eurasia. Our European Methodist theological stance provides an excellent counterpoint and potential corrective to important global debates in the wider Methodist family on how to respond in faith on issues such as human trafficking, terrorism, global warming, sexuality and economics.

We are already involved in so many exciting missional and educational projects in Europe thanks to the brilliant work of Colin Ride over the past several years.. but sadly few members in the British Methodist Church know anything of them.

I’m repeatedly baffled as to why the British Methodist Church doesn’t talk more openly and actively to METHODISTS about mission. I really want to know why we are not partners in THIS scheme instead of or in conjunction with Fresh Expressions?

Fresh expressions has just entered phase II – similarly RETHINK CHURCH is the second phase of the ‘Open hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors’ campaign of the UMC. I imagine, however, that it would be far more attractive to some of our under 35 year olds to participate in a project that was truly global in its intent instead of correctly ecumenical. Some will point out that Fresh Expressions is now Global – this is true, it has been taken up by the Anglican Communion Worldwide. But I guess that is a part of the problem for me.

I believe that there really are fundamental differences in the way that Methodists and Anglicans think about and DO mission and theology that it would detrimental for the Church to lose – especially if they were lost out of nothing more than ignorance or apathy.

So.. PLEASE can someone tell me why we are so reluctant to work with other members of the Methodist World-Wide Connexion – many of whom have already sent us ministers for our congregations and members for our Churches?

Is this a way in which WE can RETHINK CHURCH here…?

1 comment:

  1. I like the door concept Angie - especially doors to God and not doors to churches. You probably know this reading; I'm too scared of getting lost in the institutional church - I still struggle to literally step over the threshold on may occasions. So I see myself as a doorkeeper:

    I Stand at the Door

    By Sam Shoemaker

    I stand by the door.
    I neither go to far in, nor stay to far out.
    The door is the most important door in the world -
    It is the door through which people walk when they find God.
    There is no use my going way inside and staying there,
    When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,
    Crave to know where the door is.
    And all that so many ever find
    Is only the wall where the door ought to be.
    They creep along the wall like blind people,
    With outstretched, groping hands,
    Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,
    Yet they never find it.
    So I stand by the door.

    The most tremendous thing in the world
    Is for peopleto find that door - the door to God.
    The most important thing that any person can do
    Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands
    And put it on the latch - the latch that only clicks
    And opens to each person's own touch.

    People die outside the door, as starving beggars die
    On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.
    Die for want of what is within their grasp.
    They live on the other side of it - live because they have not found it.

    Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,
    And open it, and walk in, and find Him.
    So I stand by the door.

    Go in great saints; go all the way in -
    Go way down into the cavernous cellars,
    And way up into the spacious attics.
    It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.
    Go into the deepest of hidden casements,
    Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.
    Some must inhabit those inner rooms
    And know the depths and heights of God,
    And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.
    Sometimes I take a deeper look in.
    Sometimes venture in a little farther,
    But my place seems closer to the opening.
    So I stand by the door.

    There is another reason why I stand there.
    Some people get part way in and become afraid
    Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;
    For God is so very great and asks all of us.
    And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia
    And want to get out. 'Let me out!' they cry.
    And the people way inside only terrify them more.
    Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled.
    For the old life, they have seen too much:
    One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.
    Somebody must be watching for the frightened
    Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,
    To tell them how much better it is inside.
    The people too far in do not see how near these are
    To leaving - preoccupied with the wonder of it all.
    Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door
    But would like to run away. So for them too,
    I stand by the door.

    I admire the people who go way in.
    But I wish they would not forget how it was
    Before they got in. Then they would be able to help
    The people who have not yet even found the door.
    Or the people who want to run away again from God.
    You can go in too deeply and stay in too long
    And forget the people outside the door.
    As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,
    Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,
    But not so far from people as not to hear them,
    And remember they are there too.

    Where? Outside the door -
    Thousands of them. Millions of them.
    But - more important for me -
    One of them, two of them, ten of them.
    Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.
    So I shall stand by the door and wait
    For those who seek it.

    I had rather be a door-keeper
    So I stand by the door.

    I understand birthday greetings are in order? Penblwydd Hapus!! Celebrate!! J.x