Tuesday 5 July 2011

Derek Christensen on Equipping the Lay Mission Force

Here’s a short but powerful essay which echoes a lot of our concerns at London Institute for Contemporary Christianity, where I work...

Derek Christensen, ‘Equipping the Lay Mission Force’, Momentum 2, 2 (2007), 129-34.

He begins with the ‘scattering‘ of the missionary church in Acts 8:1-4 and 11:19-24, pointing out the vital role that ‘lay’ people have continued to exercise in the history of the church, right up to recent times. Even so, as he says, while there has been ‘a great deal of writing on lay involvement... the truth is, it’s not happening’.

The bulk of the article is then taken up with an expansion of five reasons for a lack of lay involvement and five possible courses of action to take, as follows:

Five reasons for a lack of lay involvement:

1. The dominance of a professional leadership model of church life.

2. Continued focus on ‘come’ instead of ‘go’ strategies.

3. Related to this is the fact we leave most of our people with a gaping chasm between Sunday and Monday.

4. Failure to achieve a theology of culture that handles the dialogue between church and culture in ways that resonate with both people of the culture and people within the church.

5. Failure to fully resolve the church-academy divide.

Five possible courses of action for renewal in lay education:

1. Change our expectations of the role of the lay person.

2. Establish a seamless range of training opportunities for the whole people of God.

3. This implies a greater emphasis on the reflective practitioner.

4. Have as watchwords for our training three words: appropriateness, assessment and access.

5. Learn to see training of the lay mission force as a long term, lifelong task instead of short term and detached experiences.

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