Renewal of the Church?

Ideas-Make-or-Break-Your-BusinessAs I prepare to begin my MA in Mission (Celtic Mission and Spirituality) course in the autumn of this year,  I’m starting to think towards the big D….the dissertation.  Although I haven’t had any formal conversation with the college yet, my current thoughts are to make a study of Celtic New Monasticism…in particular, what role it may or may not have in the renewal or reinvention of the church for post-Christendom UK.  I’m convinced that the renewal of the church will come from a form of new monasticism, just like Bonnhoeffer was.  I was convinced of that in my Salvation Army days, and am equally convinced now.

What is clear to me is that even some of our most successful churches in the UK are running on ‘Christendom-shaped’ paradigms.  Professional staff, audience of worshippers, programme based, etc.  When this works, its fine.  But by and large, it isn’t working because it takes a huge of effort to pull it off.  I know this full well….I’m at the helm of trying to make a church like Trinity tick.  There is still a place for this form of church, of course, but it is fading.  I’m not being pessimistic, just realistic.

People protest – ‘the Lord will build his church!  Why are you saying it is failing?’  I think we need to understand, again and again, church is people – the body of Christ.  Church is NOT our structures, ways of being and doing.  The people of God will continue to grow and form the body of Christ.  The question is, what does the body of Christ look like for our generation.

On Wednesday this week (18th June) I’m going to publish a short vision document.  It is an idea, a hope, a something that has been with me for a long long time but which is coming into maturity and also into sharper focus.  I’ve sung  General Booth’s line ‘The revolution now being…send the fire today.’  Now is the time to have a stab at it!

Please tune in!!!

Clerical Clarification

Greetings friends.

So, some have taken offence at my post on clericalism. Its too important too delete, but as usual these things can always be communicated clearer.

Let me just communicate again in a very short sentences what I was saying:

– It was a post in favour of soldiers of The Salvation Army throught the world, and a dream that they might again be release to be soldiers. I consider myself a soldier first and and officer second.

– It is an appeal to officers to release their soldiers and to engage in training of them

– It was a post of anger in the way that sometimes people are not released or equipped for spiritual ministry by the people who are set aside to identify, release and train soldiers for ministry which then results in a consumerist church

– It is a comment on a world-wide issue for The Army which needs to be discussed, and indeed since the post the salvosphere has been adding their thoughts to the discussion…this is healthy.

– It is a comment on what God is calling Tracy and I to model in our officer leadership

– I mentioned Wick as just one example among many where soldiers haven’t always been released, utilised and trained for ministry. It appears that some have taken offence at Wick being mentioned as an example of a place where the above things have perhaps happened. If it was perceived as a denegration of these good folks, it has been percieved wrong or communicated wrongly on my part. There are very few examples of corps where every soldier has been trained and released in ministry so I could have chosen any location but at the moment Wick is my context.

The trouble with saying something difficult is that we all come with our own prejudices and opinions and occasionally they clash. For everyone who agrees with one opition there will often be two who disagree. Isn’t it good that we live in a world where we are free to discuss and disagree without censorship?

I’m confident that the position I set out expounds a more biblical view of leadership within the people of God. You’ll appreciate how it might be impossible for me to climb down for this position, but this post is hopefully a clarification and an ‘apology’ (as in a defence) for the points needing clarifying.

The flip side is the people who have responded to say the post articulated where they find themselves in their own corps. Bless you and may God make a way for the laos of God in your situation to be released. The lost are the very first people who need this to happen.

Blessings, friends.

Andrew C

On the priesthood of all believers….

I reckon its important to say a few things about what the priesthood of believers is and isn’t. In 1 Peter 2, the context there implies that we are priests in the sense that we have access to God, that we don’t need an intermediary to access the throne room, because the writer to the Hebrews states clearly that Jesus is the Great High Priest in the order of Melchizadek…he, Jesus himself, is our intermediary between us and the Father.

The priesthood of all believers, from the context of 1 Pe 2 appears to be actually about the identity as the laos, the people of God, the holy nation simply because we have access to God which enables us to pray, worship and interpret the scripture for ourselves. This priesthood does not give license or function because it is about identity, not function. We are priestly only in that we can pray, worship, give and dedicate ourselves to God as holy people to participate in the work of the body the same as every other Christian. The natural outflow of our spiritual priesthood is that we are all then recipients of Holy Spirit and his giftings for taking our place in the body ministry.

If its was the case that it gave license or function, we wouldn’t be reading about elders and deacons being appointed in the new testament, nor would we need the five-fold ministies in Ephesians 4 because each ‘priest’ would do all that those roles do for themselves.

The priesthood doesn’t preclude the role of leadership and doesn’t imply that all the priesthood are leaders. It does mean that together we can fulfil the call of God where as we’d fail if we were relying on one person to communicate that. It is a perversion of this doctrine, though, to say that everyone is always right even when they say different things….this is why it is important the emphasis the priesthood of ALL believers, not the priesthood of THE believer.

Priesthood of all believers = identity of the people who can access God through the ‘stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone’ (Jesus) fundamentally through his grace and who make up the rest of the spiritual temple in which the Holy Spirit lives which then enables us to function as the body together.

That make sense?