Mission without Christ?

Rob has picked up on an article by Stephen Bevans I read while ago and have been meaning to blog.
The article gives a good backdrop to the pressure that we have to move Flow from a pneumatology to christology. To quote a line form the paper “Mission in obedience to the transcending immanence of God’s Spirit can avoid the danger of what William R. Burrows calls the over-objectification of the Christ-event, that is, preaching the gospel as if one controlled its message, or as if that message could be exhaustively expressed in objective, rational categories.”

I have always found this to be a difficult issue to address and ask myself how much of the desire to introduce Christ stems from my own conditioning rather than following the presence of christ that is in Flow and present through the trinity. Perhaps I am beginning to think the unthinkable as Bevans suggests below in his conclusion

“To think deeply about the Holy Spirit,” writes John V. Taylor, is a bewildering, tearing exercise, for whatever he touches he turns inside out” (Taylor 1972: 179). The Spirit is the Spirit as God turned inside out; the Spirit given to Jesus turned him inside out and opened him up to the vision of God’s reign among women and men; the Spirit lavished through Jesus turns his disciples inside out as they include unthinkable people and go to unthinkable places. Thinking missiologically about the Holy Spirit can turn the church inside out, and perhaps make it more responsive to where God is really leading it in today’s world.


In mission terms we often talk about the missionary imagination happening in terms of a balance between a culture, tradition and bible triangle. Often people talk of using tradition and ritual as a place to root discipleship or as a resource for creativity. With the emerging post christendom context and the gravitation pull of tradition, I think we need to explore the balance in a new way and give it a different sort of prominence in the mission task.

In church on the edge, the tradition balance comes not from a replication of ritual but using traditional language a resource to locate the work in a christian tradition. As we talk about Flow and often when reworking bible passages talk about Jesus as a sufi or wise man and it would be easy to completely miss the christian underpinning. However using words like church connects with the echo of the memory that gen y still hold, or gives an opportunity to locate the project in the christian story but also importantly enables us to balance out the gravitation pulls that can come with the usual way of approaching the triangle. Then as communities of faith become more important ritual can be revisited but in a way that does without the purposed dominance that many people ascribe them, and rather genuinely allows for a reciprocal re-working that values the culture, tradition, bible balance.


I have been reflecting around the issue of Flow and christology recently. Jonny pointed me to this great article “God inside out – towards a mission theology of the Holy Spirit”. It challenges the adage that the father sends the son – the Father and son send the spirit – and the trinity sends the church and unpacks the centrality of the spirit.

The article started me thinking about the Trinity as an echo. For a while now I have had the vague idea of church being an echo of the trinity of coming from God and continuing in the unfolding revelation of God. (if the spirit sends the church what does this say about the divine nature of the church).

The reduction of G-d to the trinity is problematic and avoids the transcendent nature of G-d beyond our understandings (not mention the other characteristics of God within the biblical narrative that do not readily fit the Father Son Spirit image).

G-d echos through the creation, all our images and encounters are echos of G-d that we are swept up with (missio dei) and join the echo of G-d towards the fulfillment of creation. The power of the echo can transcend the blocks of institutions and break beyond the walls of our imaginings, it calls us forward, beyond and out of what we know, to be more and less (at times) of what we are, towards unity as the bride of christ.

sunday mite be different!!

FYT have posted a collection of creative and at times wacky ideas for a service based on the Widows mite. If you are interested please visit HERE for a download of a heap of creative ideas.

Please text ‘mite’ to 82540 to enable FYT to launch 36 StreetSpace projects working with young people on the streets over the next 3 years. Your text will cost £1.50 plus one standard message and FYT will receive at least £1 of this. Thank you!

Widows Mite

PLEASE HELP SPREAD THE WORD. I just got back from the launch of Streetspace Weston super Mare and they already have great stories coming back from the young people on the streets. Can you help us reach more projects by getting involved by asking others to text their mite. If you are going away this christmas or in church this sunday would give out a notice or show the picture.


Do something small to make a big change for young people! Text the word MITE to 82540 and help Frontier Youth Trust raise £100,000.


Frontier Youth Trust (FYT) has launched a project that will lead to a huge increase in Christian youth work that is on the street alongside young in the UK! They want to grow at least 36 new local StreetSpace projects in the next 3 years and develop a national network of Christians who are working with young people in their own neighbourhoods. FYT have secured £60,000 to start the project, but needs to raise a further £100,000 to make it all happen.

For the last 3 years FYT has piloted StreetSpace and it has been effectively and creatively engaging young people on the streets in the South West. This has even included the exploration of new ways to grow church with them. The project has been recognized and welcomed by young people, local police, councils and Christians and has been inundated with requests to start or support similar projects across the UK.

Richard Passmore (StreetSpace Project Leader) says “we have an amazing opportunity to help and support young people, especially those who may be at risk, by meeting them where they are at. We are at a critical point in this development and we want to mobilize Christian youth work as an expression of God’s love for young people on the streets.”

To make StreetSpace happen nationally FYT is launching the ‘widow’s mite appeal’ (See Luke 21). Dave Wiles (CEO) says, “we recognise that money is tight for most people at the moment so we are simply asking for lots of people (actually 100,000 of them!) to contribute a small amount to make a huge difference”. FYT is asking Christians everywhere to turn on their mobile phones (even if they are in church!) and to text their individual mite to help them help young people on the streets.

So please turn on your phone and text the word MITE to 82540 calls will cost £1.50 and over a pound will go directly to the StreetSpace initiative. Text with all your mite (excuse the pun). For donations from outside the UK or for larger donations to the ‘MITE’ initiative, please go to: www.widowsmite.org.uk You will then be able to make a donations to FYT and pay by paypal, credit or debit card.

For more information please email Frontier Youth Trust frontier@fyt.org.uk or call Dave Wiles FYT CEO on 01225 480973 or 07799108339

An orthodox view

Years ago when Off the Beaten track was first published I did a training session, and described a street based communion (coke and crisps style) and asked participants – Is this church? Oli was present and has been thinking and working on his eccelesiological position in response to the question. He has published an interesting short read exploring the need for orthodoxy around the issue of eccelesiology and communion that is well worth the read and download. Find it here.

I really like the fence model he proposes and it presents a good challenge, but before I post my responses i would be interested to hear others views.

Balance, feel and prayer

I used to build pebble towers with the kids on beaches so I was prompted by Robs post on balance to experiment myself with some stone balancing and prayer/meditation . At charmouth beach today and I put up a few stone circles, it was a really helpful way to centre and good entry point to prayer without words. I have always found creation and nature helpful in getting me to focus but usually it motivates me towards praise and thanks. However the physical act of trying to balance with an object of nature was really helpful and I found myself in Flow quickly. Perhaps it was seeking the external balance that helped the internal.

‘When thou prayest, rather let thy heart be without words than thy words be without heart.’
John Bunyan

As asbo baby approached to knock over the circle, Exodus 20 v25 came to mindIf you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it, -and the hammering behind of fossil hunters was magnified in my ears, as people split rocks searching for ammonites.

Subverting the empire

Good day yesterday at the CMS blah on Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire with Brian J. Walsh, Sylvia Keesmaat. Lots of interesting correlations with where we are, and Flow particularly around the use and practice of Targum Highwaymen movies in synagogues. It raises questions about the approach we should take to using what until now we have called re-contextualised bible stories. In the traditional approach to targum the original is also read, however I have questions about how obsolete our christian language has become because of Christendom and the corruption of the christian stories through the ages.
For me this was a weakness of the targum that Brian and Sylvia had written, as it contained quite lot of christian language. There is the question of who are you talking to, and in the main their targum based on colossians was to believers, but in our context, even though it was well written and eloquent, I still think people will hear it through their cultural lenses. Brian mentioned it was longer than the original texts, and this was in part to try and convey the real meaning behind the text. I wonder if keeping it shorter but using a new language would be more helpful, as then people would need to dialogue with you around the meaning, and you are less in control of truth and meaning is discovered together.

Nightmare City 2035 buy