Included with the papers for our April 26, 2011 Presbytery meeting is a comprehensive review and evaluation of our Presbytery's new ministry initiative. That full report is too large to post into this blog, but I call it to your attention. Posted here is the cover letter to the report. I was interested comments shared by Brian McLaren on this topic of new ministry. Please join with me in pondering what 'far-reaching experimentation' may look like with the life of our presbytery?
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Recently the General Assembly Mission Council sponsored a podcast interview with popular, contemporary Christian theologian Brian McLaren. We appreciated his comments to our General Assembly staff which were reported in a recent Presbyterian ENews article.
His words are directly applicable to the New Ministry Initiative we have begun in our Presbytery with the leadership of Dan and Alison Siewert. McLaren said, “If we want our tradition to continue in the future, we have to give permission and encouragement for creative innovation and creative exploration, which will require us to go back and rediscover what it is about the gospel that’s precious. What does it really mean to be a Christian? What is our identity and mission in the world?”
The Enews article reported that, “McLaren proposed to the group of staff several steps mainline denominations like the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) can take to help foster ‘fresh expressions of church.’ Among the steps are:
• Having creative marginal zones for far-reaching experimentation and providing support for leaders of those zones to have the freedom and entrepreneurship needed to be creative.
• Sequestering funds for new lines of ministry.
• Attracting new people in new ways to new zones.
• Thinking in terms of a garden (diversity) instead of a tree (a single trunk with branches).
• Thinking in terms of ‘refounding’ instead of preserving or renewing or restoring. ‘Existing churches imitate,’ McLaren said. ‘New churches innovate.’
• Trusting the Holy Spirit.”
The report is our first effort at a comprehensive review of our New Ministry Initiative. We are grateful for the many people who have encouraged and supported this ministry thus far. We hope you will find an ‘onramp’ to join us in this journey. Even more we hope you will join us in fostering fresh expressions of the church.