While there are variations, the missiological strategies of most mainline churches are primarily based on and operate with a fundamentally Christendom form structure mindset. This despite there being what might be called a ‘Divine Freedom’ to do things very differently. There are a number of arguments that can be made for this, for example-
i) The New Testament says so by implication because it does not give us any particular model for ‘doing church and mission’. Rather it gives us principles for the forming and shaping of Christian community.
ii) A study by the Sydney (Anglican) Diocesan Doctrine Commission in its report “A Theology of Christian Assembly” concluded that-
“Christian assemblies can take place anywhere, do not require the presence of any particular person, can occur at any time on any day and do not involve any essential ritual. Christians do not have a place on earth to which they must come to worship . . . and there is no need to observe particular days or rites”
iii) The Anglican articles of faith reflect this Divine freedom. In particular Article 34 says –
“It is not necessary that the Traditions and Ceremonies be in all places,
one and utterly alike: for at all times they have been divers, and may be changed according to the diversities of countries times, and men’s manners, so that nothing be ordained against God’s Word.”
Therefore in the search for greater missional fruitfulness we should obey Paul’s exhortation to “imitate him” by following his example when he says-
“I have become ALL things to ALL people
so that by ALL possible means I might save some.”
It is important to note he does not say ‘Some’ but ALL things, people, means. Yet it is largely the case that centuries of our current model have left many Anglican (and other) leaders and church members with frozen imaginations in regard to how we ‘do church’. There will often be an assumption that how church has been done in their lifetime is how it must continue to be done. Further the hard to comprehend objection of many bible believing church members to the exercise of the ‘Divine Freedom’ will be that this just isn’t ‘Anglican’ (or Baptist or Presbyterian etc. By which is meant not the Traditional/Christendom form of church that they are used to and are comfortable with.
Thus the reality is that effectively we continue to limit our missional efforts and methods to what we have been doing and failing in for decades, and of course what fits with our traditional parish paradigm.
We have a Divine freedom, and it’s well past time to exercise that freedom. This requires us to urgently reimagine a new church, a new paradigm that will unbind the church from its currently limited and missionally failing forms. This all for the sake of the mission of the gospel- our core business.