Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Agonising or organising?

Just started reading 'Breakout' by Mark Stibbe, on his experience in moving St. Andrews Chorleywood towards 'clusters' as a way of moving into mission. Interesting to hear his reflections on spending 4-5 years of being event-centred, organising big central events/courses for people to bring their friends to, but seeing frustratingly little fruit.

The church has moved towards clusters: groups of up to 50 based in neighbourhoods, workplaces etc., as lay-led missional communities - but I've not got to those chapters yet, but see p20-22 of the St. Andrews parish profile for the story, thanks to Richard Peat for the link.

Anyway, there's this very punchy quote from Leonard Ravenhill on page xv of the introduction:

"The church used to be a LIFEBOAT... now she is a CRUISE SHIP...We're not marching to Zion, we're sailing there with ease.

In the Apostolic church it says they were all amazed and now in our churches everyone wants to be amused. The Church began in the upper room despised, in the upper room with a bunch of men agonising, and it's ended up in the supper room with a bunch of women organising.

We mistake rattle for revival, and commotion for creation, and action for unction."

It struck me not just because it's a good quote, but because it's a bit too close to home for the way I like to do things, and the way I do mission.


  1. This ties in well with the big Willow Creek research about programmes and discipleship, which called into question the whole idea you can build a discipled Church out of activities, even godly ones. I'd be fascinated to see people try to build multiparish benefices as networks of clusters of 50 — not an impossible figure in many rural communities.

  2. The most interesting thing about the MSC's at St Andrews is what happened when their building needed major work, detailed on page 19/20 of their current Parish Profile from http://bit.ly/3boYH7.

    Much like us in Finchampstead, they initially looked at hiring a local hall to accommodate their congregations, but having got the initial MSC structure in place, they took the pretty radical decision to run the church only within the MSC's for the duration of the work.

  3. Thanks Richard, very helpful. Sometime in the next 2-3 years we may be closing down our building for a refurbishment.....