This new breed of believers views church as a set of relationships rather than a set of prescribed practices and is free to embrace treasures such as contemplation, silence and solitude, devalued by the Reformation, and refresh them for this new age. This new ‘reformed’ church is free from clericalism to find the space to rediscover church as a deep expression of solidarity and love in community. And it is freed from the endless dance around the holy grail of orthodoxy to journey with others to discover what it means to live Jesus’ call to live life to the full.
These new forms of church are small and numerous, fleet of foot and flexible in form. They meet in cafes and community centres, pubs and gyms. They will never have the power, prestige or public face of the traditional church. This is ‘a church from below’, a church with a purpose shaped not by the limited arguments of the Reformation age of right belief, but by the common hunger for spiritual community and authenticity in the service of Christ.
Paul Bradbury is Pioneer Mission Coordinator for Church Mission Society.
The second of a two-part interview with Mark Hedinger of the Institute for International Christian Communication (Worldview). The discussion today centers on the planting of simple churches in Latino communities. Mentioned in this podcast:
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By Community, I mean the commonwealth and common interests, commonly understood, of people living together in a place and wishing to continue to do so. To put it another way, community is a locally understood interdependence of local people, local culture, local economy, and local nature…A community identifies itself by an understood mutuality of interests. But it lives and acts by the common virtues of trust, goodwill, forbearance, self-restraint, compassion and forgiveness…Community life is by definition a life of cooperation and responsibility. Private life and public life, without the disciplines of community interest, necessarily gravitate toward competition and exploitation.
~Wendell Berry, Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community-a collection of essays. pp. 120-121.
Mix Three Ingredients
This is where community and much of our experience with conventional church structures part company. If Berry is right in his definition community, then most of our experience in church does not reflect it. It seems to me that our people—by that, I mean the followers of Christ—should naturally reflect the qualities that Berry mentions. Indeed, those very qualities seemed to emerge quite spontaneously in Acts chapter two. The significance is in the fact that there were no other influences on the newborn church than the gospel message and the presence of the Spirit. There were no slick programs and stewardship drives. No Evangelism Explosion, Experiencing God, or Purpose Driven Life. There was the gospel, the Spirit and the Church. Mix the three and the elements of community came forth like a fragrance. Continue reading Community: Deliberate Obedience