Thursday, February 04, 2010

Perhaps we have been arrogant –continuing the discussion

I used to swim in this river every day.

I have been thinking about issues related to cross cultural ministry

Seven or eight years ago I read Rolland Allen’s classic The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church. Only later did I discover that many of the principles he argued for were adopted by BEM the mission my parents worked for. No wonder what he observed resonated!

One of the issues that Allen raises is the very paternalistic and often arrogant way missionaries , sent by the Church of England, treated indigenous peoples. He observes that the indigenous person was not often entrusted with significant leadership and churches/ministries rose or fell on the presence of the “white missionary”. In my observation the indigenous person was also expected to adopt all the “trimmings” of the English church as if somehow these were superior. Allen argues that this placed huge restrictions on the development of Christian ministry. I am not questioning the intent or the desire of these missionaries to see the gospel proclaimed and to guard the truth, in many ways they were just reflecting the colonial culture of the day. I know we all have blind spots too! I wonder though, is there a link between these sorts of attitudes and the establishment of many independent churches in Sydney?

As I have spoken with some ministers of independent churches, with backgrounds different to the white Ango culture, they are often frustrated with the “established” church. They argue that there are simply too many hoops, to many demands to do things in a "certain way" . As a result they would prefer just to go it alone.

Just wondering what do you think?