Acts of the Imagination pt 1 - The leap

Modern Church is thrilled to be supporting the Greenbelt Festival this summer. For us, it is a real leap of imagination – out of our comfort zone and into a place where anything might happen.

For two generations Greenbelt has stood for open, thoughtful, imaginative, and inclusive faith, and we are proud to be even a small part of its work and witness.

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New directions for the Church 6: Accept diversity of belief

This post continues my series looking for new ways to conceive of the Church and its role. Here I argue that we need to accept diversity of belief as normal and not treat it as a problem.

I have been critical of the post-1970s version of Evangelical Christianity that dominates the thinking of church leaders. One of its characteristics is the fantasy that all Christians believe, or should believe, the same things. We don’t, and never have done. The idea that we ought to discourages honest expressions of doubt, and encourages those with a little theological training to imagine they know all the answers.

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New directions for the Church 5: Open membership

This is the fifth in a series of posts looking for new directions for the institutional churches. Here I argue that they need fuzzy edges.

One of the unfortunate features of the post-1970s version of Evangelicalism currently so dominant is the presupposition that there is a clear distinction between true Christians and everybody else. In reality we are a mixed bunch. We all have different beliefs, doubts and practices. Becoming a Christian isn’t necessarily a big jump.

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New directions for the Church 4: Beyond church services

This is the fourth in a series of posts looking for new directions for the institutional churches. I am hoping we can move on from what I have called the post-1970s dominant Evangelicalism of church leaders, to find better answers to the problems that face us.

Here I question the way the churches’ contribution has been so reduced that services have become almost the only thing on offer. Once Christian churches, like other spiritual traditions, offered a worldview – an account of why we exist, how to live well and how to express and celebrate it. Now, it is easy to imagine that it offers just one more leisure activity to rival the gym and the television.

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New directions for the Church 3: explain how it can help

This is the third in my series of posts looking for changes of approach in church leadership, away from the post-1970s version of Evangelicalism that currently dominates its thinking and policies. Here I address the need for an outward-looking focus.

I share the archbishops’ sense of frustration. Although the number of full-time paid clergy in the Church of England is declining, there are still many thousands. If the Dalai Lama could command a workforce of this size, wouldn’t Buddhism take over the nation? What are we doing wrong?

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