26th April is always a significant date in our family. It’s my half birthday! More importantly, it’s my wife’s actual birthday. This year it is also the date of a Forum that will meet at Hinde Street Methodist Church in London. Here is the basic idea:
Pioneer Network is co-sponsoring the event together with:
Discipleship & Ministries Learning Network (London Region)
Pioneer Network UK
VentureFX and Methodist Pioneering Pathways
Authorised Ministries Commission of the London Methodist District
Methodist Central Hall Westminster
The Epicenter Group US | UK
The day is being put together by Trey Hall, a United Methodist Minister who moved to the UK from the US in January this year and who is part of the Epicenter Group (American Methodist church planters and coaches).
I met with Trey at the British Museum in London,having been challenged to find somewhere cool and interesting to meet. We didn’t see much of the museum if I am honest – we spent far too much time engrossed in discussions about our work and in getting to know one another’s stories. We did this around a table in one of the museum cafés where I had hoped to grab a sandwich. Sadly, there were no sandwiches – the choice appeared to be either a full-blown cooked meal (which I didn’t want) or a cream tea.
So, naturally, I opted for a cream tea – at lunchtime. Trey had already eaten so didn’t have anything; at least not until it came time for a second cup of coffee, when Trey returned to the table with his own cream tea.
The whole full meal or cream tea thing got me thinking. Can we bit a bit like that in our church thinking: It has to be all one thing or another? Is there nothing in between?
Do we have to be fully “Traditional, Inherited Church” or “Cutting-Edge Fresh Expressions”?
When I began working with Pioneer Network in 2010 I had already resolved to find those things that work well in Networks such as Pioneer, or larger Mega-Church settings such as Willow Creek, and bring “home” to the Methodist Church those things which represent best-practice and are transferable or translatable to a present-day Methodist context. Since then I have found that there are many places in the UK, both outside and within the Methodist Church where great things are happening.
You see, I don’t think we have to be radical about how we “do church”. We just have to do it well. We have to do it with commitment. We have to do it with joy, in the power of the Holy Spirit and for the glory of God. We have to to do it because it’s just bursting out of us because we are so full of His love and we are desperate for others to feel that too. And when we do that, it is as obvious to the world that we have met with God as it was to the Israelites as they saw Moses returning from the Tent of Meeting with his face shining, “radiant”.
Telling those stories and sharing those successes is so important. We can be far too busy reinventing the wheel and wasting energy on things that have already been worked out somewhere else.
So I would like to encourage you, if you are able, to come and share in our day at Hinde Street – to share good practice; to hear great examples of “church that works”; to contribute to the conversation and even have a bit of lunch. I don’t know if it’s a full meal or a cream tea, but it’s free!
If you wish to join us, then you’ll need to book and you can find out how to do that on the RETHINK CHURCH event page on FaceBook here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1099136826856459/