some methodologies for a missionary church
It is the starting point for determining what form a new church might
For church planting, listening to both contemporary culture and to church
tradition is vital. The planters here understood in the simple generic
sense of those involved in the starting and sustaining of further and fresh
communities of faith carry with them an existing understanding of the
faith and of church. They do not come with empty hands, but the next task
is to have open ears. Attention to the mission context, or listening to the
world, comes before discerning how the inherited Christian tradition works
within it. Mission precedes the shape of the church that will be the result,
when the seed of the gospel roots in the mission culture. Listening to the
context of the world shapes what emerges. Then the second aspect of
double listening validates it, through connection with the faith uniquely
revealed in the Scriptures.
Double listening is a process that enables something to evolve as its
context changes. It seeks to hold in tension both a creative engagement
with context and a faithfulness to the good news in Jesus.
A good case can be made for [evolution] being the best single word
summary of an Anglican approach to change. It suggests creativity,
responsiveness to present environment, and the ability to work at
a theme [or tradition].
An example of this approach is Bishop Michael Nazir Ali's book Shapes of
the Church to Come especially chapters 1 and 2, which demonstrate an
extended form of double listening.
context should shape the church
This approach, explicitly followed in best church planting practice, is a
pattern for the whole Church. In the past, two tendencies have caused
problems. Firstly, like nineteenth century missionaries, some planters have
uncritically imported their preferred existing model of being church, and
imposed this on situations where that model was not appropriate.
Secondly, many of the models of church planting described in this chapter
were popularized from the late 1980s, but little priority was attached to
them. It has taken the planting movement time to realize this has been
Viewed in the light of wider experience, it is as though church planting has
three dimensions. Different models or categories of church planting can be