Funny, I was watching Ugly Betty last night. I don’t know if you watch it, but basically one of Betty’s ex-boyfriends confronts her about the fact that she’s working in a fashion mag when she wanted to be a serious journalist. She’d forgotten her vision.
Like I said, the Army stuff is difficult mainly because we believed that ‘doing officership differently’ was part of the DNA of a Salvation Army who’s founders were so full of the principle of adaptability – one we heart and soul believe in. Laying the Army aside, as we’ve had to do, still leaves us with the call of God upon our lives. We do have a vision!
So what is the vision then? We want to be in the place where we can try to live a new model of ‘ministry.’ Its not entirely new, of course, its biblical, but it is somewhat contrary to the approach of Christendom church for the last 1600 years. We want to be self supporting workers on permanant mission to plant a network of small missional communities at the margins of our society, amongst ‘the poor’, living among them, serving, gaining their trust and being good news to the poor. We also want to equip others to do the same. I believe, with Bonnhoeffer, that some sort of new monasticism will bring renewal to the church (more on that another day) and want to encourage brothers and sisters in this. I believe that people ‘out there’ are spiritual people who don’t just want religious shows, but want community, a sense of depth of spirituality and real honest answers to their questions. They also need to experience those things in the real world, not in the cloistered conditions of an attractional model church.
We are in transition. God is gently moving us from on phase to the next. It has actually been quite important for us in these days just to pay our own rent, our own bills, run our own car, to work set hours and be paid for that rather than being given allowance to live from the church. I work my hours (and more) and claim back the extra time in lieu. Why? because I chose to see my work as work. It is our LIVES that are missional, not just what we are paid to do. My work stops when I leave the office. Our live’s mission never stops.
When we sense it is the right time to move on from this stage, we will. We are already working hard on improving our financial situation and developing ideas and strategies for ways of sustaining family life to release us for the next stage. We value your prayer.
So, just in case you thought I was going off the side of the cliff in the last post, we’re not. There is a place in ourselves where we have to properly grieve the separation and to gradually tease the vision from the institution and take bold steps towards it. This is an experience that the Desert fathers and mothers had as they began to drift from the increasinly ‘state’ clericalised church in the 4th and 5th centuries…they withdrew to the desert to ask the question ‘How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’ and ‘How then shall we live?’ and then sought to live out the reality. Here in Britain, we have much to learn from Columba, Cuthbert, Aidan and their other Celtic brothers and sisters who engaged pagan British Isles with the radical gospel of Jesus Christ not from a position of centrality, power and privelege, but from voluntary poverty on the margins of society propelled by the Spirit to ‘go into all the world.’
We are, in essence, looking for a new ‘order’. The Army as an order is by far the best description of it that fits it in its purest form. Now, we look for another cymborgi (companions of the heart) to journey with into a new day. We’re in a stage of history in the church where it is very much twilight. The curtains have been drawn on Christendom church, in some places its only begining, in others their twilight is dawn instead of dusk. But whether we here in Britain are in dawn or dusk, the landscape is changing and we need to seek the will of the Lord as to how we can serve our present age and be faithful expressions of the body of Christ on earth in these days.
Have a read for more on new monasticism: http://missionalchurchnetwork.com/12-marks-of-a-new-monasticism/