Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Innovation Environ


These are all words I have read recently and have been shouting out to me in regard to some of the challenges facing Gods people, the Church into the future.  Increasingly it seems that we hold the tension of Kingdom values and practice with what the world seems to be pursuing, and even at times what organised religion seems to pursue.  You only need to look at the debacle of Brexit in recent weeks.  Mind you this leadership should be seen in the demonstration of leadership and grace from the New Zealand prime minister in the last few days facing the atrocities in Christchurch.

Leadership needs to be in my view, not only creative but free to explore the uncharted waters of possibilities.  Sadly it seems so many leaders are weighed down, almost anchored to their systems, safety nets and operational guidelines?  Let alone the expectations of others.  I wonder when did you last sense the freedom of 'flying in your spirit, with the Holy Spirit?'

I love how in many ways  Jesus demonstrated a different approach to leadership  He was certainly innovative, entrepreneurial and as scripture says A Pioneer, and pioneering.

Last week whilst I chatted with a lot of FX friends, pioneers and varied denominational leads I  was continually challenged that the more we seek to embrace the edge, the margins, the bigger the danger the innovators and pioneers face of domestication.  I dont think I will find anyone who will not argue that the revolutionary gospel of grace has all to often been 'controlled by religion?'  After all isn't this what Jesus spoke into when he challenged the Pharisees?

I recognise the beautiful works of grace which are present in many of our churches, but again as I travel Im increasingly concerned how The Church is shrinking at the edges.  Im also greatly encouraged in places where people are so desperate to see God work that they are prepared to try new things.   I had an awesome weekend in such a place last weekend and saw God powerfully move amongst the young leaders, as God prepared them to lead in a different and innovative way!

‘All ministers will need a more entrepreneurial approach if our effective mission field is not to age and shrink further’ said Bishop Graham Cray

He goes on to say in both an honest and frank assessment of his own church and tradition, 'The future development of pioneering fresh expressions of church will require a sufficient number of suitable pioneer ministers. Given that the mixed-economy is likely to grow in the future, the Church of England and the Methodist Church will each need to establish an integrated strategy to recruit, train and deploy pioneer ministers and parish/circuit ministers. Such a strategy should allow for flexible patterns of ministry......  Methodism is a classic example of a renewal movement within Christianity, a fresh expression of Christianity, which was frozen out by the rigidity of ecclesiastical structures and the unbendingness of tradition … Methodism reminds us that fresh expressions are not only the way in which Christianity began but also the way in which Christianity will be revived.

As we continue to grapple with the need to change, for innovation, Im increasingly recognising the importance of embracing the mixed economy way of thinking.  Its not a case of Either Or, its a case of Together And.  We need each other and we are indeed richer together.  Its this I think which Hirsch in his APEST piece refers to as the MOX - BOX -FOX, (Ministry of Christ, Body of Christ, Fullness of Christ).  The fullness of Christ is demonstrated when we 'journey together'.

Innovation and creativity can be messy!
Some people love it some loathe it.
Some like things done 'just so', whilst others like to do things differently, not different not better.
Innovators by their very nature will challenge the 'way we do things around here' always looking for new ways.
Pioneers will also look at 'breaking through the norms',  they cant help it, its who they are!
But we need innovators, we need pioneers if we are to be true to the calling which God has placed on our lives.
Indeed I would go further we were birthed as a pioneering movement, one which challenged, innovates and broke through what we expected and accepted societal norms.

Rather than pulling the edge back towards the centre, and constricting its movement/innovation maybe we should let is move on further out?  Its vital that we root the church but its also vital that its free to explore the possibilities.   Rooted and Free!

Wouldn't it be amazing if every disciple of Jesus took on the challenge to innovate, explore the possibilities and in doing so to create many and varied ways that people can encounter the grace of Jesus.  Just look at Messy church as one example of such thinking! 
 This needs and can happen in the everyday places.  Thankfully Jesus is not constrained to the four walls of organised religion.
Jesus continually broke free from the religious norms.

As Hirsch says discipleship starts with our experience of Christ which compels us to be engaged in the mission of God which then shapes our understanding and reality of Church!

I wonder would it be an innovative idea to ask Jesus, so just what does He require of me just now where I find myself?

Maybe, just maybe he might want us to fly into new experiences and to see new horizons?

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