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A source of updates, stories, lessons, examples and peer news / resources from Building Bridges of Hope - a 'living laboratory for changing churches' sponsored by the Churches' Commission on Mission of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (an official ecumenical body for Christian denominations in England, Scotland, Wales & Ireland). Updated regularly.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

[52.1] GETTING THE CHURCH TO BE A REAL BODY

An article from Healthy Church magazine.

'On one point the boomingly positive vicar was adamant: “What we need is something practical, not more theories.” That was what stuck with me as I prepared to meet a network of regional church leaders. They had invited me to present Building Bridges of Hope (BBH), an ecumenical project aiming to help inherited and emergent churches to realise their missionary vocation more fully.

'What the group especially wanted to hear about was the ‘seven learning indicators’ for mission-shaped church which BBH has discovered through years of action-research. These concern the capacity to focus vision, build local partnerships, share faith and values, nourish daily life with prayer and worship, develop shared leadership, become ‘learning communities’, and (crucially) receive external accompaniment.

'Fair enough, I thought. I believe in this stuff. I know it can ‘work’. Yet I still felt distinctly uneasy. What worries me about many aspirational Christian leaders, I guess, is the apparent ease with which they slip into the language and assumptions of ‘technocratic success’ – the belief that if only we can find the right techniques and press the right switches things will get better. Even prayer and worship are recast by this ideology, so that God becomes the über-arranger of our destiny, rather than the Sovereign disturber of our peace.' More here.

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Friday, September 17, 2004

[51.1] CATHOLICS TO REFLECT ON EVANGELISATION

Roman Catholics from across Britain and Ireland will gather at All Saints Pastoral Centre near St Albans in the autumn to share stories of Catholic initiatives in evangelisation.

The event, which is by invitation, takes place on 23-24 November 2004. It is organised by the new Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, in association with Building Bridges of Hope.

"We intend to gather a range of people, each of whom has significant insight into evangelisation today", says Fr Philip Knights. "This will be an opportunity to share our stories, identify good practice and discern the contemporary shape of Catholic mission in Britain and Ireland. It will also help CASE present the 'means and methods' of evangelisation to the Catholic community and to our ecumenical partners."

CASE is at 114 West Heath Road, London NW3 7TX.

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Thursday, September 16, 2004

[50.1] MISSION-SHAPED CHURCH RESOURCES

Joanna Cox, the Church of England's National Adviser in Lay Discipleship and Shared Ministry, writes:

'The report produced earlier this year on "mission-shaped church" continues to generate a lot of interest, among the denominations and in para-church organisations, as well as Anglican dioceses. The report sold out, and CHP have had to do a reprint.

'Nigel Rooms from Southwell Diocese and a colleague have produced a study guide - which includes some exercises that are more imaginative than the 'discussion questions' included in the report (for example, a suggested visit to an unfamiliar context, with reflection).

He adds: "Mark Brown (our Canon Missioner) and I have written a study guide to Mission-shaped church with the aim of engaging with it locally... It wouldn't take too much 'tweaking' to adjust the content for another diocese or context. We haven't road-tested it, but are launching next week as these things tend to have a fairly short shelf life and we wanted to get it out there. If anyone is interested they could contact me at nigel.rooms@southwell.anglican.org " '

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Monday, September 13, 2004

[49.1] IN-SERVICE MISSION TRAINING

* How did we end up doing mission this way?
* Business (or) partners? Everybody talks about it but what actually does 'partnership' mean?
* Are inter-church and development aid really 'mission'?
* What difference does it make being a Christian in another culture?

In-Service Mission Studies is a short two-part intensive course instigated by the Churches' Commission on Mission at the suggestion of its member bodies and designed for employees of British and Irish churches and mission agencies.

It is an introductory course informing and stimulating mission thinking and raising awareness among those who are promoting mission, relating cross-culturally, or facing global mission issues in their daily work without the benefit of either missiological (or theological) training or relevant practical overseas experience.

The course is held at the United College of the Ascension in Selly Oak, Birmingham and facilitated by the rich inter-cultural resources of this unique mission community, sponsored by the Anglican mission agency USPG and the Methodist Church. UCA is ecumenically-minded in its openness to work with people of diverse theological views and evangelically-focused in its commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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Sunday, September 12, 2004

[48.1] NEW BOOK ON FREE CHURCH WORSHIP

'Gathering: Spirituality and Theology in Free Church Worship', by Christopher Ellis, is published on 15 September 2004 by SCM Press:

"Gathering is a work of liturgical theology in which the faith of the Christian community is explored through a study of its worship. The book is significant in doing this from a Free Church perspective. Most ecumenical work on worship has been greatly influenced by those traditions which use written liturgical texts and who give a normative place to the Eucharist.

"Free Church worship however needs to be studied on its own terms if its ecumenical contribution is to be fully appreciated. Conversely evangelical attention to worship has tended to be pragmatic rather than theological and has not used the insights of liturgical study to understand worship as a key place of spiritual formation or expression. Using a study of Baptist worship, Gathering explores the spirituality implicit in a worship tradition which to date has received little theological or historical attention."

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