”…The intentional congregation is non-geographical, and those who attend choose to do so for a particular reason. Intentional churches welcome lay participation, are not clerical or hierarchical, are creative with music and worship, and de-emphasize doctrinal uniformity. Intentional congregations, however, do not draw members primarily because of programs and are not primarily seeker oriented. People come because the church lays out a theologically meaningful (but not dogmatic) vision in worship and Christian formation, giving them the ability to see their work, relationships, and the world with spiritual insight. Intentional congregations draw newcomers because of something transcendent -- a connection with God embodied in the spiritual practices of a distinct tradition in the context of particular community. They are pilgrim congregations -- communities that practice faith in the world yet live at some tension with the surrounding culture.
The higher the sense of cultural tension, the greater the sense of spiritual journey or pilgrimage. With a clear call to living as a pilgrim, congregations attract members who take faith seriously and engage in distinctive spiritual practices to enrich their journey and deepen their connection to God. This spiritual purposefulness breeds congregational vitality. A committed core of spiritual practitioners will reach out and bring in new members who, in turn, embrace the practices and continue the cycle.
Mainline congregations are appropriating, reclaiming, and recreating their own traditions in imaginative and innovative ways…”
Quote by Diana Butler Bass,
Adapted and excerpted from In STRENGTH FOR THE JOURNEY: A PILGRIMAGE OF FAITH IN COMMUNITY (Jossey-Bass, 2002). Bass suggests that a new kind of mainline Protestant congregation is emerging in America.
Is it possible new kinds of Anglican, Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist (etc) churches in NZ will emerge reinvigorated and reconnected (to the deep wells of a Christian tradition, bigger and richer than their own alone) into a cultural context that has changed hugely in the last 50-years, and will be further changed by 2015 - a date New Zealander Kevin Ward sees as significant for NZ mainline denominations. Click on his name for a series of articles written by Kevin, including an interesting one on Christchurch churches and one titled What Makes and Effective Church? (A more detailed essay on Spreydon Baptist has been published in the NZ Baptist Research Journal). Kevin was a much-appreciated keynote speaker at a small "unconference" I organised a few years ago to explore possible ways forward.