Plant churches that are shaped by their culture, but reflect Christ

David Keen, a Church of England vicar, has some interesting quotes from Graham Cray, Bishop of Maidstone and lead author of the Church of England report “The Mission Shaped Church”. These quotes are specifically about church planting but also relevant to strategies for an existing church. The emphasis is probably David’s.

You will need to go where they are, you will not get them to come to you. Plant churches that are shaped by their culture, but reflect Christ. The Christian distinctive stays, but otherwise the shape of the church is substantially decided by the actual lifestyle and circumstances of the people you are trying to reach. The very shape of church we are used to can be a stumbling block to the gospel. No one expression or shape of church life will fit the whole of our diverse culture. I suggest that to have in mind what a church plant will look like probably wonโ€™t work. We need a baptised imagination in the practice of mission, not just dreaming up what we think we are going to do under God as we begin. …

The first stage of our strategy is to reach people where they are, in the form of community they actually live in, and not the ones we believe they ought to live in. You plant churches in networks, communities of people who do have a relationship with one another, not in streets of people who ought to have a relationship with one another.

9 thoughts on “Plant churches that are shaped by their culture, but reflect Christ

  1. Again my security was abaddon. Is this some omen? ๐Ÿ™‚

    At any rate, the Bishop is absolutely correct. In fact, I thought about the church at Antioch, Syria.

    Must we turn an African tribe Western? Not at all! But should they reflect Christ? Absolutely!

  2. TC, it certainly applies in Africa. I was thinking more or how it applies in unchurched communities in western countries.

    If God is speaking to you through my anti-spam words (all biblical names), who am I to comment further? Just now he is saying to me “Kadmiel”, but I’m not sure what he wants to say through this obscure character in the lists in Ezra and Nehemiah. Well, the New Bible Dictionary says “He was concerned with the commencement of the Temple rebuilding …, with the day of national repentance …, and with the sealing of the covenant with Nehemiah …” Is God telling me to have the same concern? Who knows? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. This sounds very similar to Mark Drscoll talking about not changing the gospel to make it relevant to culture, but find ways of expressing christian community that engages with culture to exress the relevance of the gospel to the culture.

    So you don’t change the message, you change the expression.

    Facebook, online content, drinking/clubbing and sports/leisure dominate the lives of many of my friends. 10am on a Sunday is not the answer.

    The “sunday morning” mentality of many UK christians makes everything much more difficult, as Church remains somewhere we “go” in order to “do” something…

  4. Indeed, Blue. While I don’t support some aspects of what Mark Driscoll says I entirely agree about the need to express the relevance of the gospel to the culture.

  5. Thanks, David. This material is worth keeping.

    By the way, I came across Graham Cray at Soul Survivor last year. Definitely my favourite bishop. Indeed some of you will be amazed that there actually is a bishop I approve of!

  6. “Take a close look at today’s culture and today’s church. On several occasions, history has provided the needed critical mass and the synergistic inertia to thrust the church into breaking out of its’ box and becoming the force in culture and society that God intended it to be.”

    “Today, the church, in the 21st Century, has once again reached this “critical mass.” It is something so big and so obvious that the winds of change demand we look hard at our traditional forms and face the reality that a different church must provide a different response to a postmodern age.”

    This is the opening paragraphs of a site devoted to exploring ways of doing church differently.

  7. Thanks, Duane. The sad thing here is that the church has put itself in a box which can be broken out of only with “the needed critical mass and the synergistic inertia”. We need to not just break out of the box but destroy the box and the mentality of putting oneself in a box.

  8. Thanks for this – the church of which I’m a part is about to launch a youth program with which I am to get involved. Thanks for the thirddaychurch site link, it has lots of useful info. Keep up the good work and lively discussions, Peter.

    Love Rachel at Re vis.e Re form

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image