At the moment in the middle of my first essay for my MA in mission - I'm very glad I've taken this week set aside to do it as there is usually so much on that it would be virtually impossible to get it done in between other things, and Christmas week is a good week for it.
As a way to begin to open the question up and to throw it open to others feedback and ideas any thoughts any discussion welcome. you may even get a credit in my essay if your comment is particularly relevant and I can link to the post! ;-)
the essay question is
Evaluate the critique of ‘inherited church’ by pioneers and proponents of emerging church and/or Fresh Expressions.
In my reading there's a huge amount of questioning being done of inherited church across the globe - and whats also being done to both counter decling numbers but also being done to speak positively to the culture of our day. What I'm reading primarily from the USA and from the UK is helpful to some extent but I keep returning to the phrase -" yeah but that's not where we are". Some of the questions and how those questions are answered are helpful but lots are not and returning to the fact that there is a lot of work to be done to contextualise the answers into the Irish church in general and the Church of Ireland in particular - if they are to be of any help in answering the questions which are around the church today.
Why should this be the case?
There are many reasons for this - Perhaps the most fundamental answer to this is to do with history and place of the Church of Ireland on the island - where it is culturally, geographically and also its own understanding of ourselves. Into the mix we add the theological diversity and the propensity we have not to offend neither our neighbour. In other words we don't want to rock the boat.
It is a fascinating when we begin to unpack some of the fundamental questions as to what is church?, what should church be saying to our culture today? and how should we be saying it differently than we have done / do at present? what roles do church leaders - ordained and lay have in this? what structures do we need in place going forward? what does church look like if things do change going forward?
When this is coupled with the fact that within the church at this present time we are looking at new forms of ministry, diocesan strategies, empowering parishes to make changes - what does the future hold? .... lots of questions, very few answers as yet. That's OK ... but at least the questions are being raised and the conversations starting
I've been amazed reading the different theologies - Liberal Protestant, Emergent Liberal, House church conservative, emerging conservative, emerging evangeical, emerging reformed ... and where they are all coming from - each certainly brings gifts within their particular 'streams' some things ring true whilst others are problematicin my own mind - somehow the engagement with them needs to happen as they do provide answers to the questions of faith people have.
more later ... but back to the essay