We’ve all seen them – lives destroyed by addiction. Promising young people burnt out like matchsticks. Ensnared loved ones exchanging their families for another fix.
It’s a harsh reality and not something I mention flippantly. It’s grievous, in the full weight of the word.
Yet that’s the image in my mind as I ponder a growing dependency in our ministries: addiction to novelty. Addiction is a monster. Just to be clear, addiction is defined as becoming physically and mentally dependent on something so that you cannot stop without incurring adverse effects. And that is our present condition in many churches: if we don’t keep juicing up, cranking up the experiences, we could lose everything we’ve worked so hard to build. What a shame where true (on many levels).
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I love to talk about new expressions of the church for our changing world, and I realize I am joining a chorus that has been sung for a long time. In 2004, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York along with the Methodist council founded the Fresh Expressions Organisation. I found some inspiring material and quality thinking over at their website: Fresh Expressions. To me it was incredibly encouraging.
Many existing churches operate with a ‘you come to us’ mindset. ‘Would you like to join us?’ is an invitation to come to ‘our’ church, set out as we like, at a time that fits us, in a style that we have pre-arranged. The flow is from outside-in: from the world into the congregation.
Fresh expressions have a ‘we’ll come to you’ mindset instead. They start not with an invitation (‘Come to us on our terms’), but with an offer (‘We’re willing to come to you, serve you and stay with you. If you want, we’ll also help you to be church in a way that suits you – in your style, not ours’). The aim is not to provide a stepping stone into existing church, but to form new churches in their own right. The flow is from the congregation to people outside – not inward, but outward.
Fresh expressions is a new mindset, not a new model of church to be copied. It is a mindset that starts not with church, but with people who don’t belong to church.
Fresh expressions are:
- missional – serving people outside church;
- contextual – listening to people and entering their culture;
- educational – making discipleship a priority;
- ecclesial – forming church.
from the article: What is a Fresh Expression Church?
What a great summary in those four small bullets! All I can add is wow and yes please.
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Luke 5: 37 “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the new wine will burst the skins, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. 38 No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 39 And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’ “
The amygdala, or lizard brain as some call it, is the brain’s region that controls our base motivation and emotional behavior. Scientists say the amygdala acts as a resistor, often through fear. It’s that part of us that keeps us quiet when we disagree, or from finishing projects that make us vulnerable to criticism. The people I admire silenced this resistor, moved into uncharted, creative territory, and changed the world.
In “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?“, Seth Godin challenges us to overcome the lizard brain resistance by:
- Being impatient with the status quo
- Not copying someone else’s tactics
- Doing something new
Resistance to change could be holding us back from experiencing more of God.
Don’t miss this revelation from the wineskin parable: inexperience is a prerequisite for fresh wine. If you want a fresh outpouring, you must be a new wineskin; a novice.
Be adventurous in your pursuit of Jesus. Drop your nets and follow Him.
You don’t have to have it figured out. In fact, it only works if you don’t.
Step out in faith and try something new. Only then, when you are lacking experience and completely out of your depth, have you met the conditions for new wine.
And don’t miss the second key take-away: not everyone will come with you. No one after drinking the old, wants the new. Sometimes you have to leave others behind to truly follow Christ into new territory.