With two weeks before I head off for the UK, I have a head full of questions!
These are questions that are shaping up around my preparation for the trip, through reading, making bookings, talking to other people, and who knows what else. They are questions that I want to ask of the trip and the experiences it will provide, and they’re also useful questions for church and faith life, it seems to me.
I’m actually really enjoying this work, and am making sure that I get questions out of my head and recorded somewhere – several ‘somewheres’ actually, and this is one of them.
The first two questions come out of a series of group conversations a couple of years ago, as part of Uniting Alive Hobart 2020 (a renewal process in the greater Hobart Uniting Churches). I think they speak to all of this, and remain really important:
- What would it mean if we changed our perceptions of ourselves from keepers of truth to hosts/participants/initiators of conversation (&+ practice and praxis).
- What if people are not asking us “what must I do to do be saved?”, but “how then, shall we live?” “What if they’re not asking us anything?”
Many of my other questions reflect and build on these two: things like:
- The dialogue between theology/vision and the practice of social entrepreneurship/enterprise: what are the qualities and calling that might drive entepreneurism in the name of a church?
- How do ideas and practices ‘translate’ across different theological perspectives? I’ve been labelled a ‘liberal’ theologian (correctly so, even if I don’t like labels!), and am aware that many people working with ‘Fresh Expressions’ come from a different theological place. I’m looking to the connections we might weave around christian practices, possibilities and ideas.
- Where/how/do church people see the creative, dynamic spirit of G.O.D. present in the world around us?
- Where/how/do people not connected with church see it in church life?
- How is a community changed by the people who become part of it? Does it notice? (this is an important question for me, because the ideas of ‘outreach’ with which I grew up suggested that the church community didn’t change at all, this was expected of the people who came into it).
- How do we go about creating a culture of mutual hospitality (what some in the USA call “visiting with…”)? ‘Welcome’, within most church communities, still means “welcome to come to OUR building, when WE open it, and do what WE do” – Henri Nouwen calls hospitality a space where transformation may happen. These two things are different! Where does ‘visiting with’ sit within “Fresh Expressions”?
- What are the opportunities and barriers within ‘normal’ church life (ie Sunday morning worship +extra groups and activities) for social entrepreneurism &/or fresh expressions of church?
- How does all of this speak to my vocation as a Christian and as a church leader?
- How does it speak to the structures of the Uniting Church, and the ways we organise ministry?
- How do I speak intelligently of all of this without resorting to jargon and long words? (!!!)
Enough for now! I’m sure there are many other question; the fun part will be seeing what answers (or other questions) emerge.
Blessings for your day, Rod