it was a lot of of fun working on the book imagining mission. one of the things i did earlier this year when i was working on it was lift out some phrases that i really liked and put them with some of my photos. i think of taylor's phrases a bit like marshall mcluhan - provocations or discussion starters to ponder - that were ahead of their time and seem as poignant now as they were 50 years ago. it's also i hope a fun or creative way to give a flavour of the book. cathy and i will take turns in reflecting on those - probably twenty or so. i will add them to a photo album on flickr which you are welcome to downlaod photos from and use. i have made them into a set of moo cards for myself which make good discussion starters (though the fonts are a bit small on some - they work better on a full screen). if anyone is interested in a set of those let me know and i can order a few - they aren't that cheap but you can have them cost price. message me if that's of interest and i'll compile a list.
first up then: an adventure of the imagination.
this comes from a reflection on an extended time he spent in africa living in villages. taylor is thinking about how different the culture of paganism is on the african plains and he wonders if christ came into the world of africans in an african way whether the rest of the church would recognise him? he says that any attempt to look upon the world through african eyes must involve an adventure of the imagination. i absolutely love this way of conceiving of mission. as we are all too painfully aware the sharing of faith has often gone with the sharing of culture because we mistake the good news of jesus christ with the cultural clothes that the church expresses faith in. the challenge should be to simply share the story and let insiders to a culture respond to that in their way. that is essentially an imaginative act. and i do like the thought that it should be pushed to the degree that we might not even recognise it.
it's no longer news to say that the west is a context for mission. and we have exactly the kind of question taylor was pondering in africa here. church is foreign to many people - they way things are done is just different, strange, inaccessible - and that's the case whether it is pentecostal, liturgical, or contemporary. things need to be done in a way that is as close as possible to peoples natural way of being and doing life - it's obvious isn't it!? the adventure of the imagination is to let go of our way of doing things, our religious sweet tooth and simply go on an adventure of the imagination to see what emerges. the last 30 years or so in england and other western contexts have seen a wave of experimentation and a loosening of wider church structures with emerging churches, fresh expressions, alternative worship and so on but there is so much more possibility, so much more adventuring that could be done. and sad to say there is still way too much fear, anxiety, defendedness and control in the structures that make the simple error of confusing the gospel with the way we do things round here.
[i have some books and happy to sell you one if you are nearby but with coronavirus that is unlikely i guess but you can order here from the publisher or any other bookstore online i imagine]