Ideas exchange - lunchtime soapboxes
Three soapbox stations were dotted around the Cotswold Hall of the King's Centre to give delegates something to chew over at lunchtime.
These were not designed to be slick, high-tech seminars or workshops, more a place where people could network, hear what’s working for others, share their own experiences, and perhaps take away ideas for their own situations.
Rose Uitterdijk facilitated a session that explored embracing adventure, being serious about discipleship and being willing to take risks. She used the following statements to provoke discussion:
Pioneering Ministry is…
seeking the transformation of our communities?
a cop out for those who don’t do ‘real church’?
seeking to re-imagine church for a new generation?
hard to de?ne?
devolving responsibility to a few?
“a form of church for our changing culture established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church”. (From Fresh Expressions website)
the same as church planting?
Rose said, 'I was keen not to just talk about examples of pioneering because the danger is that may be very local and relevant in one place may be unsuitable in another. Rather I aimed to focus on the who, what and why of pioneering ministry.'
Andy Robertson of Greenford Baptist Church spoke about multicultural worship. He explained:
Imagine if the Baptist Assembly was conducted in a language and style that was alien to you - Imagine if all of your cultural norms were absent from the worship and prayer – imagine if we were all asked to pray out loud together and nobody did? Oh, wait, that’s what did happen….!!
This is what church is like for thousands of Christians in the UK today – worship times that are culturally irrelevant, even dismissive of any culture other than white western. This leaves Christians unable to be free in worship, to feel second rate and unwelcome.
Journeying towards a church that is multicultural, culturally conscious in its make up will bring many people to life – imagine if our music, art, movement, posture and prayer was designed to be inclusive of other cultures –so we could all be blessed by the joy and richness of diversity in worship.
Empowering and equipping local church leaders
Jonathan Somerville, minister of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Wolverhampton, facilitated a session that aimed to empower and equip local leaders. Sharing a couple of stories, he invited those gathered to share what had worked for them in their contexts, which several then did. The results will be gathered in a new blog.
When the family is shamed
In many places where BMS works, there is a dominant culture of shame and honour. In some cases, that culture can spill over into violence and even the murder of family members who are thought to have brought shame to the home. That is even beginning to occur in the UK. How do we engage with that culture? Claire Ord, co-Director at BMS’ International Mission Centre, discussed some of the challenges as well as our responses. She shared:
Shame is not unfamiliar to us – it’s a problem for all cultures for those on the margins.
Also those of us who are worn down by the excess of individualism of our Western society, would find the sense community in Shame and Honour cultures refreshing (to our souls).
As we missionally engage with other cultures – overseas and across the street – there are things to think through. What is the gospel for those who are shamed? The scriptures are full of stories and models of those put on the outside getting some honour restored. (The woman at the well, Hannah, the prodigal son)
Also our images for the gospel need recasting – less on being declared innocent by a dispassionate judge; more being restored and reintegrated into the family by your Father.
Most of all, we will need a deeper feel for community for those who come to Christ and lose all the markers of identity. A cup of tea and a biscuit won’t cut it for those longing to belong to a new family, having lost their old community
There is a lot to say about shame and honour cultures, we can point up the horrors (they are there), we can caricature it and wrongly feel superior; the real shame would be to not express the gospel well within its outlook on the world.