The evangelical and charismatic branches of the church are the ones that have nurtured me all along the way. They have shaped the Christian I became and yet, swallowing the teaching of them whole for several years also began to give me indigestion! I look at my faith as a 20 year old and I admire my enthusiasm and passion, but I also see my naiveté and so many things that I just didn’t understand. My black and white world had no space for grey or any other colour for that matter.
My journey since then, as some of you will be aware, has been to try to re-Jesus my theology. I started to get to know and understand a Jesus who didn’t affirm all my preconceived answers, but actually questioned my answers and invited me to look again.
As I stand on the brink of stepping out of formal paid church ministry, which has been my long term hope all these recent years, I’m envisaging how life might be. I have no illusions of grandeur, even less for fame or being trendy, quite happy to let it go if it means I can take the time to explore the nagging question of what following Jesus looks like without all the churchy baggage. Some structure is needed in collections of people, but what does it look like to keep mission and community the main thing, over and above any structure? More than that, what does it mean to put people before programmes? What does it mean to love rather than judge? What does it mean to include and not exclude? What does it mean to take issues of poverty, war, injustice, respect for the created world, work, money, sexuality and everything else into consideration through the lens of Jesus and not through our church polity and decision making.
I know that to many of my friends those questions are nothing short of rebellion and iconoclasm. I’d have agreed if it was my 20 year old self asking, but having been in church leadership over 10 years and having come on quite a journey, I’ve come to the place where I’ve realised that another dream is in fact possible and that ‘I’m not the only one’. This is encouraging, and with absolutely nothing certain in my life beyond next Sept, however it looks, I know that it is time to explore what following Jesus means on the margins, outside the formal, with some space to dream again…to respond to all that Jesus is calling me to do and be where he’d have me be. It is both terrifying and exciting at the same time, but there is no other place I’d rather be.