for anyone new to this area, a quick summary. in 2004 the church of england published a report called mission shaped church which recognised the creativity in mission around the fringes of the church and new emerging expressions of church. this was against the wider backdrop of cultural changes, decline in attendance of churches over around 20 years, and economic pressure but was a very hopeful recognition that something new seemed to be happening. this report has since sold around 27000 copies and has had an unprecedented impact for a church report. some of us have been involved in this movement for 15 years or so in practice.
the msc report had a series of recommendations and how these have been carried forward is reflected on in today’s report at synod. i look forward to hearing how the debate in relation to it goes. it’s easy to forget how much has happened in 6 years within a large institution that could easily have done nothing but has broadly embraced the notion that the future is not a one size fits all church but a mixed economy of church. the introduction to the report puts it this way - Most of all, "inherited", or traditional, understandings of what it means to be Christ's church, and emerging fresh expressions of church are complementary aspects of a single, coherent ecclesiology.
the main achievements I think have been a) a change in environment – mission is on the agenda and there is a culture of permission in a way that wasn’t there before b) practice – there is lots going on and we need this to multiply c) the church has legislated for a mixed economy with its bishops mission orders effectively being a license for new shapes that don’t fit the parish system d) training is developing through a mission lens – resource and mission shaped ministry are the two thing I know most about and have been most involved in with cms e) there is now a recognition of the need for pioneering entrepreneurial leadership that has been accepted into the structures of selection
together with church army, and fresh expressions cms and those of us involved in the emerging church end of things have played a huge part. i reflected back in september on my own journey and cms’ generous investment over the last 8 years - http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/jonnybaker/2009/10/changes-part-1-the-last-8-years.html (I confess it was a surprise to see my blog as a footnote in the report).
for my part and cms’ part the section of the report that is of most interest and relevance is the selection and training of pioneer mission leaders. we are currently working to develop a new pathway for training pioneers that I am pretty excited about. this report reminded me how urgent this task is (and i hope how welcome it will be)
i hope the report is well received and that the church rises to the challenge outlined in the intro - The question for us now is how we can build on what we have learnt and whether, at a time when both human and financial resources are under great strain, we can make the strategic decisions needed to prioritise mission.
the report concludes with this statement - A real journey begins when small teams or individuals decide to travel from the security of their familiar church life to be pioneers. Many have begun their journey but many more are needed if the non-churched are to be given the opportunity to follow Christ in their own language and culture today. Reflection on what has been achieved in the last six years, and the new opportunities and resources now available, will enable us to discern how we can together take forward Christ’s mission to the whole of our society with its rapidly changing social structure and patterns of living. We have made a good beginning.
i was struck by the phrase we have made a good beginning. i get regularly frustrated by comments on blogs and elsewhere that suggest that the job has been done, that emergng church has had its day and so on. i really do think the task has only just begun in many ways and i hope that cms as a mission community training pioneer mission leaders can contribute in some small way to the future...