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Church on the Margins

Today was an EMBA/Urban Expression/Anabaptist Network sort of study day thingy which had the advantage that you didn't need to book and it was donations only!  It was a good day, lots of interesting stories and things to which I could cheerfully add a hearty 'AMEN' - and some of which would cause the hair of my church members to curl or fall out!  We also discovered that, at least on a crude estimate, outside London EMBA has the highest proportion of small churches (<40 members) and that most of these are declining rapidly.  It was, therefore, quite challenging.

On the positive side, I feel that my little congregation is beginning to engage in mission, but on the negative that they have yet to grasp that we are in an age of post-everything.  As my previous posts suggest, many are living a pre-1950 worldview despite their centrally heated houses, DVD players and mobile phones.

What might an 'emerging church' look like in this context?  How do we seriously embrace all that is good and worthwhile from experiments such as Urban Expression without scaring away all the old timers?  Or do I just let them go?  Perhaps this feels a little raw as I've just had two "notes through the door" in as many days, to say nothing of the looks I got at the Church meeting this week when we brought a suggestion from the diaconate about involvement in mission with our ecumenical friends.

One of my deacons who uses 'spiritual warfare' language a lot sees objections and defections as a sign we're doing the right thing. It's a bit simplistic but sort of reassuring that he thinks I/we are going the right way.

Living with contradiction is part of being a follower of Jesus, taking risks and risking failure is central to discipleship and mission.  I will continue to ponder what might be the appropriate ways for my congregation to continue our exilic training and try to discern useful principles from the anabaptists of old and the Urban Expressions of our own age.  In the meantime, how do I convince my folk to have tea after services never mind donuts?!

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