Cris Rogers dreams of new forms of church. Cris is on our side but as an ordained youth minister is with the enemy too. This morning is about how we prophetically dream about connecting those on the edge of our community with those in the church.
Why do we do what we do?
- Because that’s what God’s created me to do
- The deepness and darkness of some of the pain young people are encountering – we want to see the whole life of young people becoming healthy
- God loves them but they don’t know it yet
- No one else loves and works with them
Charismatic monastic is how Cris describes himself. The monastic movement is really interesting – they move to the desert to get religion out of their system. We don’t want to move because the young people are in our patch, but we all have bits that are desert land in our community, we need to get out of the ivory tower of our church and start getting senses of how they view the church. St. Francis did detached youth work, not just looking out from an ivory tower.
Let’s dig into scripture, Matthew 16. Caesarea Philippi, the land of fertility Gods, the gates of Hades, they won’t prevail, one of the first church’s and bishop’s was placed here. Jesus was a rabbi but also seen as a revolutionary – he was expected to force a revolution – he spent time using Roman language – ekklesia was about a town/village who would worship Caesar and pledge allegiance to the Roman Empire, over the local authority, in return they gain protection, and some tax exemption. Jesus was talking about something that is anti-empire, something that is counter-cultural. An empire not built on politics or war – but on peace.
Archbishop Rowan Williams:
“Church is simply where a group of people find change by Christ’s presence. The Church is where broken people encounter Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Church is where the new creation is embodied.”
We’re wasting time when we debate what church is, arguing over do we need communion or a type of baptism. Young people need church now – not us to be wasting time debating it. We need to love people beyond the normal cultural boundaries.
We need a prophetic imagination
We need to have a prophetic imagination, we need to stop looking for our own ideas, fresh expressions isn’t that fresh, we need a prophetic imagination for what church could look like in our patch. Not stealing other people’s ideas but instead asking God for his ideas. Check out The Prophetic Imagination by Walter Brueggemann.
Matthew 13:31-33 – The Mustard Seed
To plant a mustard seed in your garden was illegal 2,000 years ago, e.g. Mishna 2:8 and 3:2, you had to have specific permission from Jerusalem – it takes years to grow and it is uncontrollable. It’s not the tiniest seed but it can to be a huge tree. It was thought to be a weed and the birds rest in its branches – the word in Greek is the wild fowl – the irritating birds – not big eagles that have it all sorted. The kingdom of God is where the small insignificant birds can come and find rest. Which Cris finds quite liberating, it is quite chaotic; in church we’re desperate for things to be clean and nice but it doesn’t have to be that way.
Luke 24:13-35 – Road to Emmaus
This is a good day’s walk from Jerusalem. Jesus was described as a good man, a prophet. During this long journey he goes through the prophets bit by bit and then into the gospel, telling them about himself. Explaining what it looks like for him as he walks for a significant time with them. Jesus acted as though he was going further – how often do we create extra opportunities to spend time with young people, e.g. we need extra help loading the car for Costco, we need a babysitter, and so on. Over the journey they go from calling him a prophet to the Lord, why because he’s gone through and explained things with them, shared his testimony without them realising that he was. At the end of that they could say no he’s not a prophet – but we live in that tension.
If church is a place where people see new heaven and new earth – it doesn’t matter where you do it – Starbucks & Costa, the skate park or even the local bowls club! We get so excited about starting churches but churches are nothing more than a gathering of people pledging allegiance to Jesus. What we’re doing is church.
Luke 17:11-19 – Jesus walks between the borders and abandoned places
On his way to Jerusalem – he’s a long way out of town to be travelling to Jesus – he’s heading the wrong way – Jerusalem is more a metaphor for his death. Anyone who was unclean, e.g.prostitute and leprosy would be sent to the borders, the borders became town-lands for outcasts. One of Cris’ church members lives in a street full of squatters, that is a modern-day border land. We need to be in places that no-one else goes, where are the places no church, youth minister, or even council youth worker would go. How can we gather people together to do church, e.g. a group in Yorkshire who rock climb for free if they do bible study before. How do we get into these border lands – we can’t sit back and pray – we need to be in the streets and prayer walk.
So far that’s Cris’ thoughts, what does anyone else think:
- Jesus went to places we wouldn’t be allowed to go today in our comfortable youth ministry – Jesus took his youth ministry to a lap-dancing club – a big challenge!
- Ministering in night clubs and getting involved in the border-lands at night. Certain places become border-lands at certain times of day or certain seasons.
- Group from Cornwall felt strongly a prophetic imagination last night for how they can do ministry in the rural border-lands.
- When church leaders want to do a-z and you just want to do a-b really well, how do we focus on ideas – difficult, many church leaders come up with tens of ideas before breakfast.
Cris has really struggled with working for churches who don’t want to live dangerously. Prophets are often poo-pooed but they need to keep persevering the vision, we have to do that, it’s tiring, it’s hard work, you might have to have battles (and that doesn’t mean the church leaders are always wrong because sometimes we need to do it in a different way or the dream is too big for now) but it’s about extending the kingdom of God. Cris used to take his vicar with him to the different projects to help him understand better what the youth team were talking about.