Friday, April 1, 2016

Ferment, Change and the Church's Vocation

Each month a member of the faculty at my college is rostered to write a short op-ed style piece for Crosslight, the monthly magazine of the Victoria/Tasmania Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia. My turn has rolled around again this month. Under the heading, "Ferment, Change and the Vocation of the Church" I've tried (very briefly) to flesh out the changing attitudes to Christianity that have emerged - and become more identifiable - in Australia in recent decades. This has involved resisting what I term 'catch-up ecclesiology'. One key paragraph reads as follows:

For the duration of the UCA’s life, Christianity in Australia has been shaped by social and cultural forces over which the Church has had precious little control. It is sometimes suggested that things could have been different: ‘if only the church did… x, y or z.’  But this kind of ‘if only’ lament is, I think, misguided. Behind it is often a kind of ‘catch-up’ ecclesiology: ‘if only we catch up with the changes in society, we’ll be a more effective in mission’ – or so the argument goes. But this underestimates the extent to which the power of even the most innovative, energetic, faithful and authentic missional strategy is often overwhelmed by the currents of change that have taken Australian society in directions few would  have predicted even two decades ago, let alone the nearly four decades ago when the Uniting Church was born.

You can read the full piece here.


Pamela said...

"They have simply moved on from the church, the story of Jesus, and the patterns of life to which he calls". Yes, I agree many people have abandoned the church but that doesn't necessarily mean abandoning grace, forgiveness, friendship, mercy, humility, sacrifice and hope. Join any community organisation and you will see these traits in people. Not in every person at all times, but can the church make a greater claim than that? Why do I go to church? It's complicated.

Geoff Thompson said...

Fair comment Pamela. I wouldn't want to suggest abandonment of church necessarily means abandonment of those virtues. My real concern is for the church to be intentional about cultivating them. Only as such can there be some integration of the what the church proclaims with how it lives. If they are practiced elsewhere, that's great. But, of course, there are parts of every society who do turn away from or resist such virtues. Thanks for posting.