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28 November 2018 | St Albans, UK [David Neal]

As the conversation about Women’s Ordination and Compliance reaches megaphone level, is there not a Holy Spirit prompting to take a step back and reflect, “Is this my church?” Has it really come to a point where we feel the need to produce just another quick-fire video, to remind the viewer of what, by now, is nothing new under the sun?

It is easy to kick the church. Because it means so much to us, and deals with matters at the core of our soul, we quickly rise up when things are not as they should be. When so much in society changes, disappoints, fails and riles us, the last safe place of refuge is the church. Because it’s divine in origin, if there is one place that promises to rise above the level of mediocrity – it is the church. When it fails and disappoints (locally, nationally or globally) the pain is deep. For many in the conversation right now, that’s real.

For a moment, let’s stop and reflect. Maybe—just maybe—we need to take another look at the church we love so much, take a step back and examine who we are, listening to each other as we should, really listening! What are the unique characteristics of our church? Why do we exist and why are we here?

Think about who you are. I am sure you know who you are, but to impress, you share with me that the Queen of England is your second cousin, and your DNA proves this claim. With such evidence, how can I not take you seriously? It’s the same when we think about our church. What’s in its DNA? Is there clear evidence in both word and deed to show we really are who we claim to be? Sure enough, our beliefs describe our understanding of God and His Word. They shape who we are, and our core values, which in turn become our priorities.

The video you are about to see provides an opportunity to reflect. As the current conversation seems to get ever more fraught and distressed, it’s becoming clear that entrenched positions are not going to solve our problem, as Raafat Kamal explained in his Year End Meeting report. Rather he invited members to be “Seers of Alternatives”.

Permission to Dream is an attempt by the Trans-European ministry team not only to say, “this is who we are” but “how we and our church should be”. It was recorded, for the most part, at the recent European Pastors’ Council. The participants recite the conclusion of a sermon given in the autumn of 1975 by the British preacher, evangelist and theologian John Stott.

Permission to Dream is a lasting resource to continue the conversation about how our church can and should be.

The full transcript with group discussion questions can be downloaded here (used with permission)


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