An Article from Lawrence Moore (below), well worth a read and relection!
Now there’s a question! Our more usual one is, “What’s the future of the Church?” This one is more far-reaching, more uncomfortable and way more vital. It’s vital because we need to remember that churches are not self-evidently good things. They are institutions that are not only capable of doing great evil, but also do it regularly! Think of the Inquisition, the witch burnings, the slave trade, the subjugation of women, institutional paedophilia, Apartheid, the persecution of gay people … it’s a sad history made all the more deadly because we baptise our deeds in the name of Jesus (or God).
For all the fact that churches are intended by God to be shop windows of a transformed world (Jesus called it the “Kingdom of God”), the reality is that churches are just as likely to be part of that from which the world needs saving.
“Mission”. That’s the point of Church. Churches are communities of disciples of Jesus that intentionally join in with God’s mission to transform this world into the Kingdom of God. That’s what we said as the United Reformed Church when we asked ourselves why we ought to continue as a separate denomination: we needed to do that for as long as we are “God’s people, transformed by the gospel, making a difference for Christ’s sake” (Catch the Vision).
Communities whose primary aim is to make a Jesus-shaped difference to their communities and societies are going to be part of the Good News that they proclaim. They add value to the lives of the world – and, by extension, to their members. But the acid test is how much of a difference they make to their communities – not to themselves. That’s the difference between being a church and being a religious club that lays claim to the name and reputation of Jesus Christ, but which is self-absorbed and unrecognisably like Jesus.
The Windermere Centre’s mission is “to resource the Church through hospitality and theological adventure”. By “resource the Church”, we understand “help the Church to be more authentically, effectively, faithfully and recognisably the community of Jesus-followers” – ie engaged in mission.
That’s why we’re not selling you courses: we’re offering you the Windermere Centre as a resource for you and your church. We’re not giving you a 2015/16 Programme, so much as a guide on how to make the best use of the resource for mission that the United Reformed Church has established in Windermere.
Read it. Digest it. Pray! Get excited by the possibilities of engaging deeply in all the opportunities for mission and deeper discipleship that the Holy Spirit might be calling you to.
Then ask yourself, “How creatively and effectively can we use the Windermere Centre to respond to what the Spirit is saying to our church?” And get in touch!
Lawrence Moore, Director of the Windermere Centre.
Author: Neil Eldridge
I have been involved in WordPress based websites under the Windermere Centre ichurch program for some 10 years and have been helping your Webmaster David Wiggs informally for a the last few years. it is great to be able to share this expertaince in a more fromal role as I help David manage your site and the ministry of Purley United Reformed Church though the website. I have an interests in Storytelling, Scuba diving and cycling as well as IT.