Mission In The West


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This was a presentation I gave at the Church of Ireland's General Synod in Kilkenny, Ireland in May of 2007 on the emerging trends in the West (particularly Ireland) and the great potential to re-imagine what God is inviting His Church to be a part of in the 21st century.

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Mission In The West

  1. 1. Fresh Expressions in Ireland’s Nascent Narrative Wednesday 19 November 2008 1
  2. 2. Changing Island ‘How Ireland is Changing’ - Jim Hourihane 2005? The current estimate for the population of the 26 counties is 4.1 million, projected to grow to 5.5 million by 2030. Its growth is so rapid that it has been suggested it may once again reach its pre-Famine level of 6.5 million at some future date. Ireland's position as the 10th wealthiest country of the 191 states in the world will inevitably make it attractive for immigrants. Wednesday 19 November 2008 2
  3. 3. ‘Let the People Speak’ An independent ecumenical investigation examining the reasons why church going is declining in Ireland and Britain and the solutions people offer to reverse this decline. Christianity is growing in many other parts of the world and the investigation was initiated because no real answer had been found to explain the decline of Christianity in Ireland and Britain. . . surveys consistently revealed that about two-thirds of the population in Ireland and the UK believe in God. (pg. 7) Why did this strength of belief not translate into greater church attendance? Wednesday 19 November 2008 3
  4. 4. ‘Let the People Speak’ People who were emersed in a local Christian community (i.e home groups, Q & A sessions) displayed a stronger faith than those who only attended a church service. This was because they obtained a greater understanding of the reasons why they believed, rather than just relying on church sermons. (pg. 14) People want churches to give clear teaching on the nature of God’s holiness and the implications this has for individuals and our two nations. (pg. 17) People want churches to give priority to the ministry of worship, satisfying all the various aspects worship involves. i.e. liturgy, service format, sermons and relational connection. (pg. 23) People want clergy to give greater priority to home visiting and pastoral care, in order to reflect God’s love and concern for the individual. (pg. 35) Wednesday 19 November 2008 4
  5. 5. ‘Let the People Speak’ Available for download at www.churchsurvey.co.uk or via post for a nominal fee. Wednesday 19 November 2008 5
  6. 6. Consider that we live in at least three worlds. Emerging world Modern world Pre-modern world 2007 Graph by Brian D. McLaren Wednesday 19 November 2008 6
  7. 7. A Changing World Modernity Characterized by scientific process, answers, empirical data, concepts, calculated approaches, limited variables and quantitative end results. Post-Modernity / Emerging World Characterized by ‘journey’. questioning, experiential elements, meanderings, experimentation and qualitative assessment. Wednesday 19 November 2008 7
  8. 8. “We know that our much loved and treasured parochial system is not equipped to meet all the challenges of young, mobile populations, whose patterns of life and work are not those of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.” Wednesday 19 November 2008 - Archbishop Rowan Williams 8
  9. 9. What is your opinion of the theory that a major cultural transition is now taking place? What might it mean for the future of Christianity if it’s true? Wednesday 19 November 2008 9
  10. 10. What does all of this mean for the Church? Wednesday 19 November 2008 10
  11. 11. Emerging Churches by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger (Baker, 2005) 1. Re-centering the gospel on Christ and the Kingdom of God 2. Engaging culture without a sacred-secular dualism 3. Doing life together in community between Sundays 4. Listening with openness, including the outsider 5. Serving those in need without ulterior motive Wednesday 19 November 2008 11
  12. 12. Emerging Churches by Eddie Gibbs and Ryan K. Bolger (Baker, 2005) 6. Involving participants actively in worship 7. Valuing creativity in the image of the Creator 8. Leading through networks, with or without hierarchies 9. Integrating ancient and avant-garde in spiritual formation Wednesday 19 November 2008 12
  13. 13. North American Developments Wednesday 19 November 2008 13
  14. 14. Post-Modernity / Emerging World: Implications Significant elements Christianity could adopt to address cultural shift: ‘The Gospel in a Culturally Story Relevant Post-Modern Church’ - Ben Price Emotion & Experience Community [relationships] Authenticity & Transparency Dialogue & Journey the Arts - “Art is to post-modernism what science was to modernity” Wednesday 19 November 2008 14
  15. 15. “I would see the role of the arts as most powerful, in saying to people, ‘this is not a shrinkage of your humanity. On the contrary, there is room here for you to explore and express’ . . The central mystery of God taking human flesh has huge implications for the arts . . [It’s] not repetitive tradition versus creativity, but what degree of newness we bring to the absorption and apprehension of tradition . .” - Archbishop Rowan Williams Wednesday 19 November 2008 15
  16. 16. Emerging Cultural Trends Brad Sargent - cultural interpreter, futurist, and systems strategist for post-postmodern ministry Virtual Tribes: We have to listen and watch for each person's specific cluster of values, questions, beliefs, and behaviors. How will we equip and endorse them? •Sticking Around: Consider 100-year plans for plowing, sowing, watering, and reaping in a society that has increasingly less residual biblical knowledge. How can we encourage multi-generational continuity in parish life? •Drive-Through Training: Self-initiated learning: anything from theologizing to VJing, Goths to non-profits, apologetics to aesthetics. What can we offer for local hands-on intensives and culture-rich internships? Wednesday 19 November 2008 16
  17. 17. Emerging Cultural Trends Brad Sargent - cultural interpreter, futurist, and systems strategist for post-postmodern ministry Intercultural Challenge: Focuses on inter-culturalism—interactions that composite the unique contributions of different people groups, subcultures, and virtual tribes—and yet challenges each culture to identify its toxicities and move beyond them. How do we dance around such delicate issues and come across as friendly transformers instead of bigoted nay-sayers? Holistic Integration: Holistic approaches to ministry keep every dimension of our lives and lifestyles in dynamic tension: our minds, imaginations, emotions, souls, wills, spirits, and bodies. All the while seeking individual transformation toward Christ-like character and community transformation toward Kingdom culture. How do we hold the many layers of our being together so the whole is more than the sum of its parts? Wednesday 19 November 2008 17
  18. 18. “…do not try to call them back to where they were, and do not try to call them to where you are, beautiful as that place may seem to you. You must have the courage to go with them to a place that neither you nor they have been before.” - Vincent Donovan; Wednesday 19 November 2008 missionary to Africa 18
  19. 19. How can your parish / diocese best prepare for being responsive instead of reactionary to changes in society? How are you facilitating relational connections among your parishioners? Wednesday 19 November 2008 19
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  25. 25. How do we Contextualise? Wednesday 19 November 2008 25
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  27. 27. The Price of Mission “The church must always be willing to die to its own cultural comfort in order to live where God intends it to be.” • - Bishop Graham Cray Wednesday 19 November 2008 27
  28. 28. The Price of Mission • “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies it bears much fruit.” • - John 12:24 Wednesday 19 November 2008 28
  29. 29. ? Wednesday 19 November 2008 29