sheffield centre research now is available in articles

i am on the e-mail list for the sheffield centre research bulletin. it’s always onto something interesting in relation to mission and pioneering.

the summer issue explored larger churches and mission.

in his article george lings suggests that what is needed most is the nurturing of the following attitudes…

  • Generosity to give away resources, believing it is more blessed to give than to receive.
  • Humility to enquire what is needed in the new place, not assume we know already.
  • Trust in the people, the word and the Spirit that renounces the tendency to control.
  • Confidence to let diversity flourish, as churches best multiply through a bipartite process. Within it, the gospel embodied by a church engages with context, and this leads to non-identical reproduction. The next generation of churches will have our DNA but they are not us.

clare dalpra explores what maturity might look like in sending and sent churches and their independence or interdependence.

beth keith’s article caught my attention the most (and yes i think i am probably in her fan club as i always seem to highlight any research she does). she discusses ethics and finds that where there is a tension between the practice of every day life and the church’s stance young adults move on rather than finding a safe space to explore questions. she suggests…

The expression of faith embodied by the church was too rigid, too controlled and leader-led for many of the young adults I spoke to. Whilst this style of leadership in part contributed to the growth of the church, it left many people short changed over time. Perhaps a less controlled, multi-congregational approach which allowed for variation in belief and practice, would have enabled the members to move beyond the inflexible faith approved by the church, and in doing so create safe spaces for them to worship and explore.

there is actually a lot of discussion and interest in larger churches in the missional conversation – i think al hirsch for example is speaking at the new wine leaders conference. there is a genuine desire to turn outwards in mission which has to be a good thing. if that’s your interest you might like to dive into something like al roxburgh’s introduction to the missional church which i reviewed here

the latest issue explores leadership succession . the overriding thing that comes through that is for pioneers starting something, think about succession and longevity now and not in 5 years time when you about to move on. stuart murray willimas shares some wisdom and clare dalpra makes some great suggestions which also highlight the challenge this poses within existing structures of ordained leadership

Once again, this proposed solution for leadership succession within fresh expressions seems at odds with ‘the system’ which is geared towards finding outside successive leaders for long-established churches. It’s a shame. Our young churches would certainly benefit from more realistic time frames, participation before application by potential successive outside leaders and ways of championing young churches who raise up successive leaders from within (rather than regarding them a strange anomaly). It’s a tall order with so many financial and ministerial pressures facing the wider church. No wonder we have a problem.

anyway have a browse and add this to your selection of feeds and so on….

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