The Parish of Burchetts Green

This month Rev Keith writes about

Setting god’s people free

As a senior civil servant put it: 'Interestingly, or perhaps sadly, at no time did my clergy colleagues ever take any interest in my working life, my [Christian] ministry at work.'

This needs to change, so that what will be primary is not what happens on a Sunday morning, or at church activities, but rather how well each Christian is able to work out his or her faith in whatever circumstances they find themselves.

The church meeting together be comes less of a clerical led 'act of worship' or 'teaching' (albeit with lay participation) and more about mutual support... as the writer of the biblical book Hebrews puts it: 'And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another." (Hebrews 10:24-25b).

A new church for a new era

The era of Christendom, when most people saw themselves as Christian and adopted Christian values whether or not they ever set foot in a church, is fast disappearing. For those of us who are followers of Jesus this change can be alarming! Increasingly our faith is being challenged and we are not always sure how to respond, how to live as a Christian in a secular world, how to be faithful witnesses of Jesus in word and deed in everyday life.

As part of her Diocesan role Tina Molyneux has developed a tool aimed at helping anyone who senses that God is calling us to grow as disciples and would like to have a structured conversation about it, leading to your own personal plan identifying what the next steps might be, maybe this is for you? As the 'Setting God's People Free' initiative rolls out there will be many more opportunities to grow in the 'discipleship of everyday life' to which we are all called.

The Church of England has recently published a report entitled 'Setting God's People Free.' It must be said that I rarely read C of E reports because they are often very wordy and, if I ignore them, sooner or later some pithy summary of what I really need to know will arrive from the Diocese. But I did read this one, or at least a 12-page summary of it for deaneries and PCCs I think it represents a pivotal moment in the life of the church.

Baptised to be Jesus' disciples

Commenting that the overwhelming majority of church members are not ordained or employed by the church and spend 95% of their lives in the factory, office, school or home, it asks: 'How can we, ordained and lay together enable one another to live out the Good News of Jesus in all our life - Monday Saturday as well as Sunday.'

Jesus's final commission to his closest associates was 'go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teach ing them to obey everything I have commanded you.' 'Go and make disciples' - that is those who are learning the way of Jesus in everyday life. 'Make disciples'- not simply churchgoers, nor passive "believers" but active disciples.

Changing the emphasis

During my lifetime, the church has changed its emphasis away from the role of the clergy towards, to use the jargon, 'every member ministry', recognising that all are called to make their own unique contribution towards the life of the church. But up until now 'every member ministry' has effectively meant 'we all help the vicar keep the traditional church show/group activities on the road'.

Partly because of this, the church has neglected to resource its members to lead confident Christian lives in the workplace, home, golf-club or pub!