Thursday, April 08, 2010

Living in Medium Tension

John Coles writes in the latest New Wine e-newsletter:

Starting from the edges
...a (new) movement must live in medium tension with the surrounding culture. If the tension is too high then the movement will only attract social misfits – if it is too low it will not attract anyone who wants to be changed or wants to be different from society’s norms or from religious norms.

It also appears that most radically effective missionary movements start from the edges rather than the centre of historic denominations. This is probably because the centre of most institutions is more interested in self-preservation than in change and development.

When God baptizes a person or a church in a fresh way with his Spirit they will probably need to work out how to live in medium tension with the mother church. If not they will spin off and may be effective amongst a new group altogether but not succeed in bringing fresh life to the mother church. In contrast if they don’t live in any sort of tension with the mother church they will probably revert and be conformed again to the old way of doing things.

makes a lot of sense to me, very helpful.


  1. this is really good. I think for "living in medium tension" you could probably substitute: "living in grace"

  2. Makes sense to me. In my last "home" church we were an accidental plant from the mother-ship. Although we had a number of scraps down the 15 years before becoming a Conventional District, the incumbents were sensible enough to let the new stuff happen, up the road, without trying to normalise it. We had the great advantage that the mother church was very high Anglican while the plant was very low-church.

    In all that time I think we only threatened to walk out of the Church of England once, which was a real credit to the vicars at the mother church in letting us get on with things and trusting us, while keeping a watching brief. A lot of credit also went to the late and missed Bishop of Peterborough, for encouraging the work.