Saturday, October 14, 2006

I Blah therefore I shall blog (2)

There was an academic, a minister and a dude living it... no this isn't a joke just a jokey intro into my review of today. I went to a Blah day which Jonny Baker has been plugging featuring (amongst others) John Drane. This day was supported by the emerging church community moot (for a review of their community read this report which met in the venue we used, the beautiful St Matthews, Westminster Spiritual Formation with John Drane, Andrew Roberts and Ben Edson. The day opened with the usual coffee/tea set-up and mild polite conversation. This is noted for the reason that it is really the most odd moments as if you don't know anyone it is rather lonely. I was in luck as I was approached by one of the speakers and we got chatting. That said this did rather set me thinking about how we, as a church can be a truly welcoming body prior to services. After all at that point there is little or no link to anyone else and left me realising that the effort church puts into being welcoming at the start of the service needs to have more work put into the end... but more on that another time. John Drane First up to speak was Mr John Drane. You may have come across two of his books, The McDonaldization of the Church and the more recent Do Christians Know How to Be Spiritual?: The Rise of New Spirituality and the Mission of the Church. Both of these books were the running themes through the talk he gave. The main aim of his talk was to explain about how each time society has changed, from agrarian to industrial to beyond, the church has responded. The nature of what church was and did (ie liturgy focused on) was shaped by outside factors to keep the message of God relevant to the modern day. In order to be able to reflect the different times of humanity it has had to profile the people and ensure that what it taught did so. The idea of teaching though needs to be rethought, the previous generations and styles were always that people were taught rather than assessing what they needed to know first. What now happens is that humans have changed, they look for the big picture now and yet somehow the teaching method focuses on the small. This is then reflected (the need for the big picture) in what they look for the church to be talking about when (and now we go into my thinking), in reality, we are still (on an institutional) level looking at issues that don't concern the public any more. Discussions on human sexuality and the role of women are discussions that our society had over fifty years ago and they have now moved on. Yet with the church obsessing about out of date issues it looses the edge it had on the society it works with. (Back to JD's views now) In both the books I mentioned when introducing him he identifies styles of people and styles of the church reacting (eg Traditionalist, Conceptual etc). The Church is very good at reaching out to those for whom a Traditionalist or Apathetic approach works. Yet the other groups are not represented. Therefore by realising that we are all on a journey and we all have differing starting points therefore we need to ensure that we open our eyes and ears to everyones starting points and get ready to reflect that. This was summed up by the idea that we should "imagine church to be a Jazz band, different leaders at different times" and ensure that "we must ensure the questions we (the church) struggle with are new & not just a rehash of what faces old cultures"

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