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July 08, 2011


Ivan King

Andy - provocative as always! May I offer some observations about this video, made by my colleagues Peter and Kezia (I mention this simply to declare an interest)?

Firstly, it is possible that there is no agenda here beyond encouraging us to re-examine our understandings of ecclesiology and mission. Surely no one would doubt the tendency of church (as any community) to congeal over time and to experience some drift away from its core mission towards a more inward focus?

Secondly, this video is neither an attack upon church buildings nor a polemic on holiness. Rather, thinking about the brick wall in the video, I reflect upon the energy that so many of us invest in maintaning barriers to entry. The sub-culture of church is already pretty impenetrable and unintelligible to most of those outside it. In too many churches, people coming to faith in Christ need to become 'like us' in order to be accepted. My 50 years' experience of church is that, despite our good intentions and hopes about mission, it acts as though God needs to be protected by high barriers to belonging in church. Maybe it's simply defensive in the light of the dawning realisation that the UK church is facing exile and quite possibly widespread extinction?

Finally, I am surprised by your final sentence. It is churches similar to yours that envisaged, created and have sustained Church from Scratch as a missional church plant, with prayer, encouragement, finance and people. But I suspect you (as well as I) would rather that local churches did what was necessary to reach out and welcome all people, breaking open their community life to embrace the 'whosoever', at whatever cost to our preferences in worship or lifestyle, so removing the need for churches like the one I co-pastor.

By all means challenge what I have written.


Andy Goodliff

Ivan, thanks for the first response ... I hoped someone might and I found what you said helpful in exploring the meaning behind the video ... part of my response was to pose some questions rather than just simply click 'like' as so many on facebook have ...

I guess my reaction is the wider tendency in some conversations that suggest church planting is where it's at - they have somehow claimed the language of missional, pioneering, risky, incarnational - and rest of us working away in churches with buildings and stable settled congregations (which is a myth) and often long histories - are seen as inward-looking, settled, safe and perhaps obssessed with religiosity and order. This is perhaps too often be a fair description ... but I think we need missional, pioneering, risky, incarnational people and churches who subvert, renew, and emerge from within ... I also think we need to have a conversation by what we mean by mission ...

I am and will continue to be critical of church in many of its inherited forms, but I also want to be critical (although not in a wholly negative way) of the church that gathers round the barbecue ...

My feeling is sometimes in conversations between church planters and the rest of us (who i might suggest are replanting churches in the same ground) is we fail to listen to one another, we fail to be affirm the positive things that we both do ... i guess ultimately i found the video unbalanced ... what would it mean for the church behind the wall to knock it down ... i'm interested in that conversation and I hope, on a personal note, that those of us here in southend, might be able to generate that kind of discussion ...

Ivan King

Well I agree with your response to my comments and you know I support the kind of conversation you seek. This isnt a debate between opponents but a discussion between sisters and brothers on how the Kingdom grows...

And yes the video was partial (but that's how conversations like this get started).

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