Monday, April 7, 2008

Mission or Maintenance

In the interests of further ecumenical dialogue among Anglicans, let me post you a link from a fairly conservative, pro-Network website.

Fr. Joe Walker blogs at Felix Hominum. He recently linked to an article he wrote in the conservative Anglican Planet site.

Now, me pointing you to Anglican Planet is a bit like Jack Layton pointing you to the National Post. (For American readers, try Dennis Kucinich directing you to Fox News. In the UK, try Ken Livingston and the Times of London.)

But Joe's article is just so darned good that I have to link you to it.

It is a reflection on a recent letter in Canada's Anglican Journal regarding a priest who told his parish that they weren't "replacing themselves."

Let me just quote a small part of Joe's article. Then you should go read it for yourselves. And then you should check out his blog entry, where there is further discussion.

So who is “responsible” for those who are not in church? Plainly speaking, it is you and I. We are responsible. Perhaps it would help if we reframe the language of the question into something, well, something more "Gospelesque." To suggest that members need to “replace themselves” is, as the writer of the letter points out, the wrong approach. It hints that the purpose of the church is to perpetuate itself as an institution. Rather, we are called joyfully to help others into a reconciling relationship with God through Christ, and then to encourage one another to live out a life in the Spirit.

"How is it now their job to make sure there are others coming up to replace them?" It is never our job merely to replace ourselves (that criticism is correct), but it has always been our job to make disciples. “Go therefore into all the world, and make disciples.” This is not simply the call of the Apostles, but is part of the vocation of ministry for all the baptized. It is part of every Christian's call to present the Gospel to those who are unaware of Christ. One never retires from the Great Commission, just as one never retires from the Great Commandment. Sharing the joy of Christ has no age barriers.

Thanks, Joe.


The Sheepcat said...

Good on you, Malcolm. It is a terrific piece, isn't it!

Country Parson said...

I haven't yet read the article, but the excerpt you offered makes such a powerful point. He is right!. Thanks for making the connection for us.

Country Parson said...

We've got a clergy conference coming up in a couple of weeks with an agenda that touches on these themes. I want to see what the discussion will be like because I think we are well populated with too many who are content with complaining as the best way to deal with the issues of congregations growing toward spiritual health or sliding into spiritual death.