It is an exciting time to be church.
God is doing a new-old thing around the world. I say it is new-old because it is both new and old.
The essence hasn’t changed. The Spirit of God is still at work through word and sacrament, calling the church into being and sending it out into the world with life-changing good news.
That is as old as creation itself, when the Word breathed life and made men and women in God’s image, and formed them into community with that eternal community of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and with each other.
It is also a new thing.
The non-essentials about the church is changing.
Old forms are passing away. Christendom has disappeared into the history books. The cultures in our society no longer support the Christian message.
We Christians are no longer listened to with respect. Pretty much the opposite, really.
Our buildings are no longer the beacon on the highest point in town and the world no longer delivers a steady stream of catechumens to our door.
We are a minority voice struggling for airtime, and we find that when we do get it, we are often quoted out of context to make someone else’s point. That even happened to the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) Bishop last month.
In Australia, there has never been a golden age when most people ‘went to church’. Even so, it is getting worse.
Most will never enter the sanctuary. So we need to go to them. Not that this should surprise us. After all, Jesus said, ‘go and make disciples …’ and ‘as the Father sent me, so I send you’.
He even sent out the 70 without provisions, so that they would not be able to offer hospitality, but would be dependent on receiving it.
We are sent out from our comfort zone to where others feel comfortable.
God is doing many new-old things. Christians are engaging with people in many different ways.
We don’t do this as individuals, but as small groups. These groups are different from other small groups and are usually called ‘missional communities’ or ‘new ecclesial communities’. We have also called them ‘Love.Life communities’.
The LCA, through the Committee for New and Renewing Churches, has now provided two packages of resources to help you establish such communities and do the work of evangelism among those who do not yet know Jesus.
Dean Eaton’s book ‘SENT: Seeking the Orphans of God’ and Noel Due’s new book ‘New Life New Love’ are available as free downloads from lca.org.au There are also video clips to support each chapter and other resources.
Dean’s book includes evangelism training, a series of studies to form missional communities, and devotions for leadership teams to help them understand what it is all about.
Noel’s book is two series of eight Bible studies, designed for those who are seriously investigating the Christian faith and those who have just become Christians.
Check both out! It is an exciting time to be church. God is doing new-old things.
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