Thursday, May 04, 2006

eden

When I was a child, the World Wide Message Tribe did quite a bit of stuff at our church. They were a group of Christians who did a lot of songs, some of their own and some from hymnbooks, in a kind of house / rap / dance style. They went into schools and did missions there. I thought they were pretty good.

Later, through the influence of some of the people they'd come into contact with, particularly Soul Survivor, their theology started heading more in a kind of wacky charismatic direction. They claimed that revivals were taking place (sometimes despite external evidence), they claimed that OT verses were being given specifically to them and applied directly to them, and so on. I still went along to some of their stuff, and God kept on using them, but was less keen than I had been.

About the time I went away to university, they started trying to put lots of Christians into some of the rougher areas of Manchester, in what became known as the Eden Projects, not to be confused with the dome things in Cornwall. To be honest, I was put off supporting it by the ropey theology and seeming craziness of it generally. Some of that was snobbery.

Since then, the Worldwide Message Tribe has ceased to exist, but the Eden projects have multiplied and kept going. I've stayed in touch roughly with what was going on, but last week I read this book about Eden.

It basically tells the story of what happened - how what started out as a theologically wobbly and unsustainable attempt at urban regneration ended up being a network of church plants / grafts / transplants / reboots doing what seems to be a really good job of incarnational evangelism and working out fresh expressions of church in a series of difficult urban contexts in Manchester. In terms of how to go about planting churches in situations like that, I think it's probably better than mission-shaped church.

It's been really encouraging and challenging to see how God, by his grace, uses the commitment and risk-taking-ness of his people, even when we get stuff wrong, for his glory. Really challenging because I'm far too good at playing it safe.

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