Mission demands downsizing Sunday. This was the message of Total Church author Steve Timmis to Sydney Anglicans recently at Moore College.
You can read the full article at your.sydneyanglicans.net.
Now the curious thing here is Timmis was apparently quite keen to distance himself from the emerging church movement (“He says it just a historical accident that that Crowded House began around the same time that the emerging church was coming to prominence”). And yet, this message is the same message I’ve been pushing and modelling myself (“Less expectations need be loaded onto a single hour each Sunday”) as a missional approach to doing church. And of course I’m not alone there. Really, just an accident?
Sounds to me that Timmis’ is possibly playing word games or maybe just operating out of a narrower definition of emerging church than I do. My definition includes Reformergent types within a broader, global understanding of the movement. His definition sounds possibly reliant on the Don Carson definition which, if taken seriously, would limit your vision to a narrower, Emergent Village centric understanding of the movement that would exclude even myself. How much of this difference is just semantic? There is certainly a degree of overlap.
Anyway, maybe if we can work past the semantics to true understanding there may be some common ground opening up here in Sydney. I have been encouraged by the conversations I have been having with more missionally open Anglicans here in Sydney. I still have some areas of serious disagreement with the Archbishop, particularly his media silence over gay hate groups like the “God Hates Fags” crowd, but I conceed that is something we may just have to agree to disagree on and if the Jensens are allowing missional talk at Moore College then that sounds encouraging.
I would like to think that one day those committed to mission in Sydney could work closer together. I think the big stumbling block is going to be penal substitution model of the atonement though. Moore College seems to teach this as the only valid model and Mathias media doggedly hangs on to the “Two Ways to Live” gospel and it various clones. But there are many outsiders like myself who consider penal substitution only one of many models that may be drawn on, and not always the most appropriate one. Can we work together for the gospel given such disagreements over how narrowly we define the gospel? I suspect there’s a lot of ground to cover first, even for those equally committed to mission. I hope there are those who are willing to take the journey.