#breakout – pioneer gathering: day 1

22 09 2011

So for the next couple of days I’m at Breakout a pioneer ‘gathering’ (not a conference) at High Leigh Conference (gathering) Centre. It’s a gathering of pioneers from the Methodist, Anglican, Church Army, URC, Salvation Army …. basically anyone who wants to come!

Jonny Baker is our key note speaker from the Grace and has chosen prophetic imagination as his theme. For the Brueggemann fans amongst you, you will know that Prophetic Imagination is the title of one of his books. For those of you who know me well – you will know that I am a diehard Brueggemann fan!! So – this is all good news to me (see my post here on Divine Imagination).

So how’s it going?

Well Jonny was brilliant! And opened up some great ideas and themes. None of them were particularly new to me but it was good to have them aired in this environment. What has been interesting, as is always the case with these kind of conferences, is the conversations in other places. One of the breakout groups was particularly interesting.

I was in a group of about 14 people (3 of which I knew well) which included Salvation Army, Anglican, Church Army (and Methodist) folk. we were each in very different situations from rural ministry, parish based curacy, youth ministry, artists, cell church, church in the pub, missional communities … there was a lot of spirit-activity on offer from these 14 women and men!

The question came round, as is inevitable with a bunch of pioneers, about the relationship between the work we are involved in and The Church. A conversation developed with, on one side, a cry that we are called to love The Body of Christ and, therefore, work within the mixed economy/mixed modes of church; and on the other side a longing to birth something new that might well leave the parental nest and head of in its own direction.

We ran out of time and didn’t come to any conclusions, but one strand of thought that developed at the end was about genuine honesty and integrity between the church and Fresh Expressions/pioneer work/emerging church. Let me give you an example that was used last night:

If the Methodist Church believes that the core purpose of Venture FX is to give the Church a heart transplant – then we are likely to find ourselves in a mess in a few years time. However, if Methodism believes that it might be birthing something brand new, and that it is likely to be in a painful and costly labour for some time, then an argument and fall out might be avoided in the next decade. Why? Because we were honest enough in the first place and no-one was betrayed or hoodwinked down the line.

The Salvation Army confirmed this from his own tradition. He said that when they began planting out 10 years ago they were expecting clone copies of the same, but instead they ended up with churches, birthed by the Salvation Army that didn’t wear uniforms and even baptised! So they shut them down, lost a lot of passionate and experienced ministers and wasted a whole shed load of money! And then realised that they couldn’t stop this thing ….

So is this pioneer/fresh expression thing unstoppable? And is The Church capable of that kind of shift?

It reminds me of a question that my physics teacher used to ask ….

What happens when an unstoppable force hits an unmovable solid?

More later ….




One response

22 09 2011

Is the solid unmovvable when God is at the heart of it?

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