A few quotes/thoughts I liked from the book Chasing Francis:
‘We’re all broken people who’ve lost our dignity, in one way or another. Francis’s whole life was about giving people their dignity back–poor people, lepers, people who were despised and rejected by society–the very people Jesus sought out to minister to. His commitment to restoring people’s sense of their God-given value thrilled the hearts of cynics who had all but given up on believing that the gospel was good news to anyone. What if we all, as a church, decided to make one of our distinctives being restorers of people’s dignity?’
‘I tried to blame everything on the whole Christian subculture–but that isn’t fair. Here, I’ve learned that no one is my problem but me. Francis never judged the church, even when he didn’t like what it was doing. What right do I have to judge it? Spiritually, I just want something more’
“You’ll never be able to speak into their souls unless you speak the truth about your own wounds. You need to tell them what our Lord has come to mean to you in the midst of your disappointments and losses. All ministry begins at the ragged edges of our own pain…”
This book has created a stir amongst many but for me understanding the emerging discussion through narrative and fiction makes it more accessible. Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams in his speech ‘Changing the Landscape’ at the Fresh Expressions conference said ‘so many people in post modern emergent church world think that think they are inventing something new, when in fact pre – modern people like Francis who were emergent long before we were’
My friend Gerard (http://gerardkelly.tumblr.com/) summed up some emergent thoughts for me. On his post ‘Ancient Emergence’ he wrote ‘Emergence is the very nature of the Christian church. The Acts of the Apostles is a story of emergence. Every new Christian community planted adds something to the wider picture and Peter, James, Paul and the other apostles face decades of wrestling with the identity, boundaries and ethos of the church. Apostolic leadership is by definition a dialogue between that which is established and that which is emergent. The very foundation of mission is a God who is eternal, faithful, established and unchanging and yet declares “I am making all things new”. The most accurate definition ever offered to me of the ‘emerging church’ movement came from a 73 year old missions co-ordinator in a very mainstream UK Baptist church. ‘Emerging church’, she said, ‘is where you look at a geographical area, ask what the Holy Spirit is doing there and try to join in’.
When God called us to pastor a Mennonite Brethren/Anabaptist church. I wondered how this would connect with my emerging thoughts. But as I move into this space opened up I see the amazing shape of Christian life and community before me. I get to the heart of this church and find a thriving community who meet with hundreds of street people every week. Giving them a place to call home. The Baby Basket – providing formula, diapers and clothing to local families. Hundreds working for our Christmas gift of Living Nativity. The women of Take a Break who have been collecting for the local Foodbank and over the past weeks have collected 1626 lbs of apples, celery and carrots. A local church deciding to move in with us for a couple of months to observe how we live community. A few examples.
Have you seen www.hopeprojectwellingborough.co.uk or www.dreamcenter.org ? Be inspired.
Have you seen The Hope Centre at Willow Park Church?
The Holy Spirit has.
Time to join in.