Saturday, June 19, 2010

Evolving Church and me - where next?

Last week I posted about my moment of clarity I had recently about myself, my development and discipleship, and where God was leading me with writing and speaking. I said there were other things I wanted to share with you, and this is the time for me to do this.

Yesterday I finally ‘went public’ about this with a group of people close to me. I have mentioned this issue here, but I had not actually shared it with friends properly and got some accountability. Yesterday, when it was revealed that in house group we’d be talking about things we run away from, I knew exactly where God was going to take me. So I shared essentially the heart of everything I shared the other day, and some of the issues I’d been having. In doing this it was a form of confession, I was going public. In so doing I got feedback and support, I got prayer and some accountability.

This act of confession, prayer and gaining accountability compelled me to think seriously for the first time about what I was going to do with this study time. I could no longer daydream about it and it have no timeline, I had to make a decision. I had in a sense created an inciting incident – as Donald Miller calls them – in my story, something that compelled me to face up to what I was doing and needed to do, and that compelled me to make a decision and do something practical.

Ironically the same day I had already begun work on one idea I had already had, which was to shift the emphasis in my blogging activity. I have increasingly found the label Evolving Church to be restrictive in terms of what I want to do as a blog.

Evolving Church is a vision I have, an umbrella for a number of ideas for talks/books/presentations exploring the nature of church and the Christian faith which I want to pursue medium and long-term. Evolving Church is something I want to continue to develop and work on – but the work I need to do now is study and background.

I realised last night that before I can seriously tackle any of the ideas I have, I need a basic understanding and grounding in the cutlure & world that Jesus lived in and preached to, I need to understand the context of Jesus message and what it meant to those who heard it. I need to grasp the humanity and reality of Jesus world and life, I need context.

I also realised I need to spend more time actually studying scripture and writing from my studies of scripture, and intertwining that with modern cultrual references, metaphors and insights, my own experiences and stories and practical ideas of faith, how I see Jesus in my everyday, and again understanding the context from and to which Jesus spoke and what His words would have meant to His hearers can help me better interpret that for today’s culture and see to whom and what, Jesus is really speaking to.

I want to go on sharing my journey of faith with you, and thinking about new ideas and concepts, I want to keep my eyes open to see the Jesus in everything, everywhere and everyone, in the everyday, in my own life and lives of others. I want to keep exploring and understanding more about the story of Jesus we are all part of, the invitation to be part of the restoration and reconciliation of all things to how Jesus always intended them to be – the heart of the way of Jesus.

I want to keep looking outwards, keep thinking progressively, creatively and innovatevely about the way of Jesus and what it means to do church. I am passionate about understanding and exploring what it is to be a community of disciples, what Jesus really meant by church, the new humanity of Jesus, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus – a disciple, rather than a believer – and to explore the ideas/concepts of the Sabbath, creativity and how the way of Jesus isnt’ a religion, but a way of life – not religion but church, as well as the concept/process of evolution in church.

The vision of evolving church in my life has not dimmed. The evolutionary process that takes place in nature and is constantly taking place in church, and which I believe is preferable to continual revolution, is still a passion and a vision I want to explore and develop – and communicating this in several different ways, spoken, visual and written, are all ideas I have and want to explore.

This is simply the next step in my discipleship, the next chapter in my story.

In order to fulfill the vision I have to the full I realise now that I need to be fully prepared, that I need to have a solid foundation. This house cannot be built on sand, it needs to be built on a rock and this is the best way for me to do that. I don’t ever want to stand still in my walk with Jesus or get into too much of a comfort zone, and this is simply me moving forward with Him. A friend shared a picture which makes a metaphor – its like jumping out of a plane wearing a parachute, in the right spot but not quite able to see my landing spot yet. There is also the fact that I want to devote more time to preparing things to use in my own church context and to write a couple more things for their blog – the Creative Arts blog linked below – which are also both important to my development.

So what does this mean practically?

Well I am still exploring this. Put simply, the blog is not the point anymore. The purpose of the blog really is to be an outlet for the things I’m learning and experiencing as I experience and learn them, and also for distilling ideas and concepts, and moments of inspiration, into bite-sized chunks. I am not altogether sure where this research/study will take me – I am sure much of it will be more likely to appear in teaching/sermon-style pieces than blog posts, although I will probably adapt anything I create into a blog/written form in order to share it with you. I may also share insights from scripture I’ve had, if I believe its right to share them.

But the point is not where or when or even if people see it. I am sure whatever happens the fruit will speak for itself in some way, but I need to get away from the idea of needing people’s approval to validate what I do, or gaining my value from simply posting blogs and getting good responses. There has to be purpose to me posting/blogging/sharing something, and I will continue to do this as and when appropriate – but only when it is. This means there may be periods where I don’t post at all, and other periods with frequent posts.

But where will this be?

There are two options. The first is to keep this site going under another more inclusive name, and the second is to start a fresh blog somewhere else and keep this here as a resource for myself and others to use. Either would work well, and both have equally valid justification. I will be praying about this and of course I will inform you all of what I eventually decide. And again, for those who know me, in all this I would ask you keep me accountable. I now have accountability from several people in my church for this, and the more I have the better in one sense, as it will keep me focussed and committed to what I am doing.

I hope you can continue to join me on this journey wherever it leads, and my hope and prayer for you is that through sharing my journey, and through what I experience and learn, that you too will be blessed and be challenged and grow in your own faith, that things I share can in some way become part of your story too.

Posted via email from James Prescott