GENETICALLY ENGINEERING CHURCH

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Yesterday we started properly on the process of clarifying our values as a movement. I thought I would post a wee recap so people could continue to reflect and contribute and maybe catch up if you weren’t there.

You won’t do anything that really matters until you define what matters.” Aubrey Malphurs. He is right, in order to do anything significant as a new church (as any church or organisation) you need to decide what really matters to you a community. The things that really matter are values. The culture created by our values shapes who we are and what we do, our attitudes and actions. NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT.

VALUES are foundational motivations and inspiration, nonnegotiable guiding principles. They are our “die fors” those things which
you never sacrifice
give a community a particular “flavour”
matter most
characterises everything that happens
never changes as vision, strategies and plans do

There is a lot of debate as to whether its ethical to carry out “genetic engineering” on unborn children to make sure that they have the right DNA for them to develop into healthy children. Well whether its ethical or not when it comes to unborn children, its absolutely vital when it comes to new churches which are about to be born. The DNA created by the core group of a new church will determine the extent to which that church will be a healthy and authentic expression of the Body of Christ. What we are doing right now is seeking God’s help to clarify our DNA, our core values, what will be the “ethos” of our church.

The “ethos” of a movement is the “atmosphere” created by its core values which shapes what it is and what it does. Ethos is the DNA of the community and as I said we are now in the process of clarifying what the ethos will be that will characterise us. We want to come up with about four core values which will be the impression people will have when they encounter Mosaic and guide what we do and how we do it.

WHERE DO WE DRAW OUR VALUES FROM?

Churches draw their values consciously and unconsciously from all sorts of places.
Here are the most popular from my experience, maybe you have encountered others?

Tradition? Business? Other Churches? Our own preferences?

There might be a certain amount of validity and even necessity in considering what those areas have to say to us about our values but I don’t think they should determine our values. We are God’s People, we are called to reflect His Character in our community. We are the Body of Christ, we are an living organism, which shaped, inspired and empowered by Jesus joins Him in His continuing mission, which of course means we need to share his values.

That’s why we are committed to this process.

THEOLOGY (who God is) —-> MISSIOLOGY (what God does) —-> Ecclesiology (What Church is and does)

We want to draw our values from God, from Theology/Missiology. We want our values to reflect what our God is like and what He does, his values being reflected in our values so that people through the power of the Spirit can encounter God through us His People.

We started that process last night by looking at what our God is like, that we worship a Trinitarian God. We got into some deep stuff. If you weren’t there, I can get you the hand out and go over it with you. Here are the values we came up that flowed from the nature of our mysterious yet awe inspiring Trinitarian God.

RELATIONAL
“Because the Christian God is not a lonely God, but rather a communion of the three persons, faith leads human beings into divine communion. One cannot, however, have a self-enclosed communion with the Triune God – a “foursome” as it were – for the Christian God is not a private deity. Communion with this God is at once also communion with those who have entrusted themselves in faith to the same God. Hence one and same act of faith places a person into a new relationship with God and with all others who stand in communion with God.” M.Volf

THEREFORE:
Community is important
Being human means being in relationship so relationship matter
We are designed to live in interdependent loving relationship and reflect God and become fully human to the extent we do
Spiritual maturity is about having deep authentic relationships not having lots of knowledge

MISSIONAL
“God engaged in a missionary act when he created the universe. Creation was the outward movement of God. It was an overflowing of the Trinity’s life as something new was brought into existence. God continues in mission as he sustains the universe, a flow of non-stop love towards creation. God also engages in mission by redeeming the world. This redemption is made possible through the death and resurrection of Christ. It continues through Christ, in the Spirit. God’s purpose is to restore and perfect the whole of creation. Mission, therefore, is no add on for the church. The Church becomes like God when it engages in mission. It falls away from God when it neglects mission”. (Moynagh, 31.)

THEREFORE
We can’t be God’s people if we are not joining with God in His mission.
Mission is not an “add on” but central to who we are
His mission is a mission of restoration and reconciliation and so is about transformation of people, situations, communities, creation.

INCARNATIONAL
Joh famously wrote that “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. ….. 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” God doesn’t carry out this Mission from a safe distance, he enters human experience in a way we can understand. God seeks out humanity.

THEREFORE
Mission must have cultural relevance
Mission is primarily about entering into the world of others rather than inviting them into ours.
Our primary way of mission will incarnational rather attractional

CREATIVE
The trinitarian God is creative. He reaches beyond himself in creativity. Sadly churches often value conformity more than creativity.

THEREFORE
In every discipline, from the intellectual to the artistic, the church should be the envy of the nations. …. the church’s birthright is to be the fountainhead of creativity and human potential” Erwin McManus

CHANGE
Its been traditional to think of God as unchanging, but that’s only partly correct. God’s character doesn’t change, He will never be less or more loving and holy than He has always been. However when God became human, there is a sense in which He embraced change, welcomed change into his very being. There is a sense in which God is different now because of the Incarnation, because of what he has experienced. God seems to love doing “new things” He takes the Kingdom to new people, new spheres in new ways.

THEREFORE
We should not avoid change but be open to it
We should view being in a period without change with suspicion in case we are missing God’s guidance
We should be open to new experiences which change who we are

Here are some more we came up with on the night

Loving
Hospitable
Servanthood
Openness
Acceptance of diversity, unity without conformity
Generosity
Creating a “home”

Any further reflections or thoughts on these values?

NEXT STEPS

We have looked at values that come from who God is (Theology) next we are going to think about values that might stem from what God is doing in our world, (Missiology) and then we need to distill all of this down so that we can have the essence of who we are, what we are committed to being, our ETHOS as a community.

I wanted to add a personal note. Its been a hard journey at times believing God has called me to Edinburgh to be part of a new missional movement. There are many times I have felt like giving up. Yet all the time I dreamed of a group of people who would say the kind of things that some of you said last night, that we are community of love, acceptance, committed to the mission of the Kingdom of God, hospitable and eager to serve and support one another. Last night was one of the most affirming experiences I have ever had as a church leader and I wanted to thank you for all being part of what God is doing in and through Mosaic Edinburgh.

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One Response to GENETICALLY ENGINEERING CHURCH

  1. Wesley Campbell says:

    Well stated James! Refocusing is indeed an necessary and ongoing exercise for any congregation desiring to continue a vital and vibrant relationship with God and His mission. Following the lead of our pastor a short while back our local church entered into a similar exercise as Mosaic. The outcome resulted in a decision not to state and print a Mission statement but rather to clarify our values and state them clearly for all to affirm.
    We based our approach on the premise that the How or What will not take place until the Why is clear. Mission flows from Values.
    Thus we state (print in our bulletin) and return to regularly, not a mission statement but the affirmed Values of our church.
    We value Godly hospitality
    We value intercultural relationships
    We value spiritual transformation
    We value service to one another
    We value Godly wholeness
    We value worship
    We value a vital relationship with the Triune God
    We value loving our neighbours

    Looking forward to your ongoing posts and the development of Mosaic! Blessings!

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