I have really been digging this book The Open Secret by Leslie Newbigin. He was a missionary and professor of missions, and this books is all about the mission of the church. As our church is currently going through a replanting process I am finding this book to be very helpful to refocus on what we are all about.
I was challenged by the below quote because it emphasized the fact that there can be no one size fits all church:
The central thrust of all Rolan Allen’s Writing is expressed in the title of a posthumously published work, The Ministry of the Spirit. Allen’s charge against modern missions was that they had been tempted by their alliance with colonial power to act as though the mission of the church could be pursued in the style of a cultural and educational campaign, as though the object was to multiply replicas of the sending churches. In contrast to this Allen rightly saw that in the New Testament portrayal of mission the central reality is the active work of the living Holy Spirit himself. It is the Spirit who brings about conversion, the Spirit who equips those who are called with the gifts needed for all the varied forms of ministry, and the Spirit who guides the church into all truth. The Spirit is not the property of the sending church or the missionary who is sent. It is not part of the missionary’s duty to mold the new church into the style of the old. The Spirit is sovereign and free, and the missionary must trust the Spirit to do his own work. Where Christ is confessed, where the word of the gospel is preached and the sacraments of the gospel are administered, and where there is a ministry that binds the new community to the wider fellowship of the catholic (universal) church, there, Allen believed the Holly Spirit must be trusted to provide all that is needed, and the missionary has done his or here work and can move on.
I was really encouraged by this passage because even though our church is moving only 5 miles north, we cannot be the exact same church. We have to reach the community that we are going to, and we have to trust the Spirit to guide us in that path. We have to trust the Spirit more than our own cleverness or education of experience. Because what worked before is not guaranteed to work again. The Spirit is creative and wise enough to bring fresh ideas to reach the new community.
I am so excited to become Creekside Church, and I am eager to see how the Spirit transforms us and moves us.
God help us to trust you more. Amen!