Church planting and fresh expressions of church in a changing context
The Archbishops' Council
I don't know about you but to me the idea of a report published by the Archbishops' Council is an immediate turn-off: a sense of seriously boring, tedious, massive yawn — but I picked this one up and found I could hardly put it down! This is one seriously readable report that addresses real issues about where the church is in today's world and where we're going tomorrow.
As the report puts it, it's not the church of God that has a mission but the God of mission that has a church — if you're part of God's church, you're part of God's mission, for better or for worse. And I'm deliberately picking up on those words from the marriage service because mission is so central to the reason the church exists: it's like the church's sex drive — no mission, no reproduction, no future. Even more to the point, we're talking about love, about reproduction that arises out of a relationship, out of long-term commitment, that grows into family.
It's no game we're playing here, no optional extra for the experts: Christ calls all of his followers to join him in mission. This doesn't mean standing on street corners wearing a sandwich-board proclaiming The End is Nigh — there are more than enough nutters scaring people away from God without us joining their ranks. It does mean living like Christ in society, meeting people where they are: instead of inviting people back to a church they've never been part of, taking the church back to the people. The report calls it "fresh expressions of church", reviews ways in which dozens of different churches around the country have set up alternative church communities and services and invites us to consider whether any of the models examined will work in our particular contexts.
If you only read one Archbishops' Council report in your entire life, make it this one. But please don't stop there: this isn't about mission theory, this is about living what we believe to save the planet. And finally — blowing your last excuse out of the water — if you can't afford £10.95 to buy a copy, you can download the entire report as a pdf (996kb) free of charge from www.cofe.anglican.org/info/papers.
Phil Groom, August 2005
Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.Church House Publishing | Order from www.christianbookshops.org