Creative ways to re-imagine church

Simon and Richard v1How can the Gospels of Matthew the teacher, Mark the action man, Luke the outsider, and John the reflector remind us that we are connected with eternity, rooted in the past, expressed in the present and revealed in the future?

The answer to this question was explored at Sanctuary First’s Re-imagining Church Conference held at Tulliallan Police College, Scotland, from 11-13 January.

Simon Peters, Walking the Way: Living the life of Jesus today Project Manager, attended the event with the Revd Richard Church, the United Reformed Church’s (URC) Deputy General Secretary (Discipleship).

‘There are as many ways to live the life of Jesus today as there are people in the world,’ Simon explained, ‘Ephesians 4:11-16 reminds us that absolutely everyone has something, right in front of them, that they can do to build the kingdom of God around them.’

‘So, if you see an opportunity to encourage, teach, contribute, share or otherwise act to improve people’s lives as followers of Jesus, you don’t need to wait for permission or approval, just go forth in faith and courage with Jesus.’

‘The Gospels, in unpacking the life of Jesus, help us to remember our heritage, influence the ways we live our lives today, and prepare us for a future of hope and fulfilment, in every respect.’

Both Richard and Simon feel that Sanctuary First – a pioneering online ministry developed by the Church of Scotland – echoes the heart of Walking the Way, the URC’s focus on lifelong missional discipleship.

‘Sanctuary First is exploring ways of revitalising and renewing ‘Church’ beyond boundaries and without walls,’ Simon continued. ‘It was great to see creative examples of church being used to keep alive the faith of people who don’t attend conventional church services. We came away with ideas to help inspire congregations.’

Simon encouraged congregations to explore the story of ‘Fullerton Connexions’, a Church of Scotland congregation in North Ayrshire which turned its focus completely to the community around it, ditching the name ‘Church’, but holding firmly to being the presence of Jesus in the town.

The Church of Scotland’s ‘Path of Renewal’ movement, which works with congregations which want to discover where God is already at work in their communities, also has a blog with some great examples of missional discipleship.

Visit www.urc.org.uk/wtw for more stories, news and information about the URC’s work to empower faithful discipleship.