I’m doing a series of meetings around the diocese at the moment – reception process for our new Diocesan Policy. It’s the outcome of two years work and much involvement of clergy and laity. If you’re interested, you’ll find it to download from our diocesan website. I think what I’ve found interesting so far is the way in which the underlying challenge becomes clear as we talk about it. The SEC is a small church. It has survived by developing a strong sense of its independence – the shadow side of that is a church which is made up of ‘people like us’ and doesn’t seek a strong involvement in the wider community. The challenge is to turn outwards and engage .. in mission and service. The question is whether we dare to believe that a church which does that may grow stronger – while a church which lives to itself will inevitably grow weaker.
There is no dichotomy here! Sure, we need our members to be involved in society and in their community as Christians, serving Our Lord where he is to be found weeping and hurting in our humdrum lives but the Church, yes, even the SEC, has to be seen to be doing that as a Church. What credibility do we have when we ignore the crucified Christ on the street corners of our communities, on the edges and fringes of our so-called civilised towns and cities? Every parish should have at least one home rown initiative to hold up as an example of their compassion for Jesus, so that at the last when the sheep and goats are seperated we might find ourselves worthy of being worthy enough to be accepted by the Shepherd. Woe betide Holy Clubs!
I was heading into comments to make just the above point. Is there not something about the nature of our church which is more inspirational than social (and thank God for that!) which is often harder to introduce into casual interaction outside? I have to say the shallow end of the pool is where I find myself trying – the absurdity of the situation seems to help!
I think what you say is essentially true but one thing needs clarifying for casual browsers. Yes, in general “the church” doesn’ttend to see involvement in the wider community – though there are a lot of exceptions to prove the rule but individuals within the church are often deeply embeded in community life and activities. The problem is to link their christian (church going) life with their activities. We are uneasy about speaking about our faith in , dare I say it, a mission position!
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