Messy Church

Fresh ideas for building a Christ-centred community

Ecosystem Church

Posted by Lucy Moore on 02 May 2017 (0 comments)
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There was a cracking Radio 4 programme about Sherwood Forest recently, in which the forester was looking at one of the ancient oaks. The reporter gushed about how beautiful it was. The forester replied something like this: 'Yes, I suppose it is a beautiful thing in itself. But it's most important for the variety of life it supports. That's why we've propped it up with massive buttressess and put a girdle round its trunk – to keep it going a few more years until the young oak trees we've planted grow up and can start supporting those different species of life themselves.'

What if church is just a beautiful thing in itself, but actually is more important for the variety of life it supports? That makes sense of the props we put up around what might look like churches rotting round the edges and ready to collapse in the next storm. We're not keeping church alive for its own sake, beautiful, noble and connected to the past as it is, but for the life it brings until the next generation is mature enough to support those life-forms itself.

Normally, both an oak tree and a local expression of church would grow, flourish and, at the right time, die, having provided bountiful resources for the next life-bearing generation of tree or church. When there has been either mismanagement or eco-sabotage, the life-bearers need propping up to help the cycle resume healthily. At this point in history, both oaks and churches need the right buttresses.

The oak tree in the photo is a Hampshire oak from Hartley Wintney, where 80 Messy Church leaders gathered on Saturday to think about discipleship. Every person there was passionately committed to their existing local church but also to the next generation of that same local church.