Spike Posted by Colin Corbridge on Mon, 07 Apr 2008 | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

I realise that church law and structure are unlikely to be the most interesting subjects for most people but I’ve been encouraged to see a significant moment for mission in the Church of England last week with legal provision put in place to accommodate new forms of church that don’t fit within traditional parish boundaries.

The new legislation works through ‘bishop’s mission orders’ and a code of practice seems to give some useful ideas for groups, churches and dioceses looking to make the most of this new opportunity.

It seems, to me, to be a recognition of the need to acknowledge, accept and perhaps even celebrate pioneering expressions of mission and ministry that would perhaps previously have been been left with little support. I wonder how easily any of these ideas would translate in Ireland and what the consequences would be for the training and support of missional leaders…

I’m still not sure how helpful the terms ‘Fresh Expressions’ or ‘mixed economy church’ are (or indeed will be as we look to the future) but the movement towards provision and inclusion seems like a good one to me.

Jon Birch’s take on ‘Fresh Expressions’ made me smile last week – and now it’s the only image I have in my head when I hear the phrase!

Despite any misgivings I may have about the phrase ‘Fresh Expressions’ I am convinced that we do need to continually find ways of freshly expressing and contextualising the message of Christ into the situations in which we find ourselves – that seems to me to be, at least in part, the challenge of mission.

That question of contextualisation has prompted a fair bit of discussion and debate on TallSkinnyKiwi’s blog over the past few days and has made me think – not least by reminding me of John Stott’s fundamental question about mission:

Cross-cultural messengers of the gospel have to ask themselves: ‘How can I, having been born and raised in one culture, take the gospel from Scripture which was written in other cultures, and communicate it to people in a third culture, without either distorting the message or rendering it unintelligible?’

I suspect that its a question worth at least a few moments of our time…