Where we find ourselves: reflections on church and culture

There was a time when if you didn’t attend church on a Sunday, your boss might ask you ‘why not’ on Monday. There was a time when the local parish was the centre of social gathering and networking. There was a time when it was routine for parents to drop their children off at Sunday school, and when sports and extra curricular activities were not competing with church attendance for the limited hours in the pressured schedules of most families.
Such was the nature of what we might call Christendom, the time when Christianity was at the privileged centre of Western cultural life. It can be argued that this “privileged centre” is not ever where the church should be found as attachments to power and influence cannot coexist with the gospel of Jesus the Christ. Regardless of our critique of Christendom, however, the reality is that Christianity is no longer at the centre and our place within culture and society has changed dramatically in the past century and even in the past few decades.
How we navigate these times will be, I believe, determined by our convictions. These convictions are the “why” of our community and the basis of our mission. They are the things we hold to, the things that do not change while all the world shifts.
How would you articulate these things that do not change and the mission which determines all of our priorities in this shifting social landscape?
It is worth looking back on our shared reflections from earlier years to answer this question.
When asked in February 2020 what represented the core values of our church, the answers included words like love, grace, beauty, hospitality, and worship of God. The ongoing creation of a sacramental community which practises these at the heart of all they do leads to a desire to live the way of Jesus in all of our relationships with one another within community and an intentional practice of hospitality and inclusion towards our neighbours without.
These are the things that do not change and inform our decisions and priorities for the future.
On Saturday 15 of October we will be holding a Visioning Day for our church. Instead of bringing in a facilitator this year, I will be reflecting on the last four years and hosting the space where together we can make observations of our culture and a realistic assessment of the challenges and possibilities before us. We will then spend some time considering values and values collisions which always impact our everyday decisions. After that, there will be time to gather over a cuppa before working collaboratively on discerning our core values and priorities for mission into the future.
The biggest question before us is, “What is the story we at St Andrew’s want to tell about God through our lives, relationships and service?”
All of our decisions about the way we spend our money, our time and our passion come back to this question.
I invite you to reflect on that question and I hope you will join us as we gather on the 15th of October from 9:30am- 1:00pm.
Grace and peace,