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Richard Sudworth [UK]
"Do you have any principles?"

[09.03]

What are the most important principles that underlie the emerging church? Based on substantial research among emerging church groups in South Wales, Richard Sudworth proposes the following...

Whether you agree, disagree, or want to make some more suggestions, let us know on the discussion boards...

TAKE THE LONG VIEW
A constant thread in all these discussions has been the need for churches to invest for the long term as they step out with new forms of mission. The results are not instantaneous and require commitment, patience and the struggle born out of genuineness not expedience

PARTNERSHIP
Almost without exception, these case studies exemplify the importance of connectivity with other churches and groups and testify to the power of cooperation across denominational boundaries. In our age, hierarchies and histories are less important than relationship

CREATIVITY
I have been taken aback by the extent to which the arts and technology have been a natural component of so many projects. Many projects would not profess to be arts orientated but most have web-sites and publicity that reflect the culture. Music has often a key place in gatherings and is a tool for communication, not merely worship.

WILLINGNESS TO INVEST WITH LITTLE FINANCIAL RETURN
A concomitant of the first principle but significant in its own right. Projects that are getting off the ground and sustaining a work are accessing sponsorship that does not see the work as a potential feeder for income but as a recipient for mission

IMPORTANCE OF TIE-IN TO CHURCHES
Though there are often tensions and difficulties with organisational church structures, there is a universal acknowledgement that the unbilical cord to the wider church body should not be broken. This requires goodwill on both sides and often people that can ground the vision of the pioneers in the forum of the traditionalists

OPEN TO WORK WITH STATUTORY GROUPS
Many churches are ceasing to be sniffy about obtaining money from statutory groups. This is not entirely for pragmatic reasons but because there is an alignment of aims and objectives when serving poorer communities. There are still tensions but it is clear that there are resources to facilitate church projects that focus the needs of profile groups and locations

LAY LEADERSHIP ARE KEY
In many quarters this is being embraced as a financial imperative but the secret to its success is where the imperative is a wholehearted belief in the gifts and empowerment of ordinary people to shape the life of church

COMFORTABLE WITH QUESTIONING
A common characteristic of emerging churches is that dogma is taking second place to relationship. As the role of "experts" diminishes, so the need to suppress faith-searching questions. These questions are often taking place as part of corporate worship and enabling the Jesus story to ground in the reality of people’s lives

GOOD NEWS, NOT BAD NEWS
For those working with marginalized communities and people, the message is loud and clear that the church is there to bring good news. In Wales, this has especial prescience within a chapel tradition that has sometimes been characterised by legalism

WORSHIP REIMAGINED
The place, music and style of worship are beginning to be rethought in creative ways that bring the Gospel to our culture

DISCIPLESHIP REIMAGINED
Mentoring and creative, whole life shaping of young people as models of discipleship are replacing the cerebral instruction of young people. The accent is on equipping rather than protectionism

CHURCH BUILDING REIMAGINED
In many instances, the church building is no longer seen as the sacred space for worship but as the heart of community activity. The building as a resource to serve in bringing life where the tendency has been the building as a relic to filter the outside world


This article is an extract from "The Outside-In Church", a report produced for CMS, by Richard Sudworth

 

CMS website:
www.cms-uk.org.uk

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