Usa Pilgrims - Models Of Church

John and Olive Drane bring students for a study and experience week. They are fellows of St. John's College Durham, affiliate professors in the School of Theology at Fuller Seminary, and John is Chair of the Fresh Expressions mission-shaped ministry board world-wide. Over coffee we discuss post-Christendom models of church. I give my reasons why I believe something even more than mission must shape the church. Al Quaeda and Pepsi-cola are mission-shaped, but their values and vision are far from those of Christ. Sustainable rhythms and the values of the Beatitudes must be foundational in emerging churches. God is, before God sends. The institutional, attractional and missional models each have something, but the incarnational model brings God's Kingdom to earth as it did in the days of Jesus and the Twelve.

Alistair McIndoe, that humble leader of Dunbarton's Rock Church, who has just handed over leadership to a much younger person, tells me that, untrumpeted and through quiet, organic growth, there is now a network of twenty five new churches with a similar ethos. He calls this Celtic. Why? Because they seek no glory and play no power games. They wait on God, and follow godly intuitions. They empower each member and are happy to give way to those God calls to the front. The older ones mentor the younger. There is trust. Like water, the flow of God's life and love has flowed outwards.

Friends sit in my room from the church in Edinburgh planted by Saint Cuthbert in the seventh century. They have formed a little exploratory group named Saint Cuthbert's Way. Their hearts search, not just for history, or information, but for a way of life that can never end.

A group of Episcopalian Christians from Wyoming gather in my front room. They wish to explore what are some key characteristics of Celtic spirituality. These characteristics stood out in the discussion: holistic (living a fully human and a fully Christian life are the same thing), organic (nurture the life in people rather than pressuring them to come to church on our terms), rhythmic (praying in the rhythm of the sun), incarnational (allowing Christ's work to emerge among the patterns of the people outside as well as within our church). Today a group of women from USA who have walked Saint Cuthbert's Way swelled the worshippers at the 8.0 am Eucharist.

Eleanor, an islander, visits my garden. She tells me I must be much more radical - pulling up every weed, edging the entire lawn, pruning every shrub that obscures the most beautiful view in Christendom. I obey. Come and see the results.

Posted at 01:21am on 15th May 2014
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