What if…the ELCIC had an R&D program?

Most would agree that the UK is now very much a post-Christian nation.  Christians in the UK are having to rebuild the Church from the ground up, and their desire for renewal is truly inspiring.  Consider for a moment that The Alpha Course and Christianity Explored are two British innovations in Christian education, outreach and evangelism.  Perhaps it would be worth a look at how believers in a post-Christian nation are rebuilding and even thriving in their changing cultural climate.  We Canadians are not far behind – do we have a plan for rebuilding the church, or are we just holding on and hoping our out-dated strategies will carry us through the next decade.  Below is a photo of an abandoned old church in Paris I stumbled across a couple years ago.  A timely reminder that Christ-centered renewal and ministry innovation is essential.  History reveals two options: deep change or slow death.

An abandoned church in Paris

The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity is doing some of the best work in terms of developing a new vision for Christianity in the UK.  Started by John Stott, this organization is doing some very creative work – they are like a research and development organization for the larger body of Christ.  Among other things, they have begun the Imagine Project.  Consider the vision of the Imagine Project, “The UK will never be reached until we begin to cultivate open, authentic, learning and praying communities that are focused on making whole-life disciples who live and share the gospel wherever they relate to people in their daily lives.”  The backbone if the Imagine Project is an experimental pilot research program.  “In this programme LICC and a small number of local churches partner together to learn how practically to achieve the goal of becoming whole-life disciplemaking communities in the context of the UK today.”

What if we started to realize that Canada is quickly becoming (or may already be) a post-Christian nation.  What if we started to consider seriously the need to make real changes to the way we do ministry and engage the world around us.  What if the ELCIC created a consortium with the vision, motivation, and leadership to enact the necessary research and development needed to thrive as a denomination.  What if we created experimental communities or leadership development programs to test our effectiveness?  What if we created a large-scale project to re-focus our energies towards “whole-life” discipleship. 

Our brothers and sisters in the UK have learned some lessons the hard way – I don’t think we need to.  Many of our brothers and sisters in the UK have risen to the challenge, now I think its time for us to do the same.

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