Paul writes – I came across some interesting thinking by Dr. Sara Savage recently. It’s an excerpt from the book The Human Face of the Church: A Social Psychology and Pastoral Theology Resource for Pioneer and Traditional Ministry by Sara Savage and Eolene Boyd-Macmillan. You can listen to an interesting interview between Sara Savage and Alan Roxburgh here. She's reflecting on Mission in Western Culture.
Also interesting was this brief (Dec. 2006) Church Times article by Sara, The Darker Side of Parish Life, though it needs to be remembered that when we are talking about the “darker side of parish life”, we’re talking about the “dark side”, the shadow that is characteristic of each of us. Thus transformation at the level of a parish church begins, and continues alongside the transformative work of the Spirit in the hearts and lives of individuals; when our darkness and brokenness is healed.
Here’s the excerpt:
“…The sociologist Max Weber observed a cyclical process among religious movements that he called ‘the routinization of charisma’. Weber argued that any great vision requires a human process to carry it through time, sometimes in the form of ‘a man, a mission, a movement, or a monument’. Even with the Body of Christ, the life-giving charism has to be embodied in a routine – in some form of human organization. Yet, life-giving visions do not fit easily into neat boxes. So, the very process that gives the vision continuing life also begins to kill it. When the maintenance of the institution (which protects the charism) becomes the institution’s primary purpose, the death of the charism is on the horizon. Only a spiritual revival or reform will re-ignite the gift. In our era, fresh expressions of church and the re-traditioning of familiar forms of church march alongside many initiatives to re-ignite the gift…”
As I read this I recalled a very similar line of thought woven through a very interesting talk given by Pope Benedict XVI, New Outpourings of the Spirit: Movements in the Church. Reform, and new “movements” are an important and historically precedented means of “re-ignit[ing] the gift” (‘charism’) that the church offers to the world (i.e. recovering the reality of the church as a “sacrament to the world”; the means of enabling God to be present to human beings in “visible tangible form”). Maybe too, new “movements” will also “recover” the charism by initiating new and contextual forms (and ways) of being church…?