How should mission inform church structures?
Taylor suggests that we can compare those engaged in modern day mission to the prophets of ancient Israel. Those called to be prophets often had an incredibly strong personal sense of calling, but often didn’t fit into either the religious or political structures of their day at all. He then draws us to consider many of the great missionary figures in church history, and the role that many of them played in challenging the structure and tradition of the existing church.
In many ways, those of us engaged in pioneering forms of mission today, can share this frustration. Jonny Baker talks about the gift of being a pioneer as ‘the gift of not fitting in’. But could this sometimes lead to an unhealthy fear of structures on our part?
For Taylor there is no doubt that the more we integrate our understanding of mission with a theology of the Holy Spirit, the more we find our existing structures and institutions in the church being challenged.
Some questions to ponder:
- Do you have the ‘gift of not fitting in’? How do you resource yourself to cope with the frustration that comes with this?
- What ways have you found to challenge and work within the structures you are constrained by?
- How does your own experience of structure, either positive or negative, effect your approach to mission and church?