Unbounded Church and the Divine Freedom

The central motivation for this website is the belief that if the ‘church’ is to achieve its Divine mandate to go and make disciples it needs to be set free (unbound) from its captivity to current traditional forms of ‘doing church’ and mission. The great tragedy is however, and one with seriously negative implications for the mission of the gospel to our culture, that it is still the case that, while there are variations, the current mission strategies employed by the vast majority of Australian churches are primarily based on and operate with a (fundamentally Christendom form) parish/local church structure mindset. However there are strong arguments for what might be called a ‘Divine Freedom’ to do things very differently. Some reasons to consider are:

i) The New Testament indicates this freedom 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) An investigation by the Doctrine Commission of the Anglican Diocese of Sydney reported as “A Theology of Christian Assembly” came to a highly significant and relevant conclusion:

“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 rights” (Author’s emphasis)

iii) Further some of the articles of faith of Christian denominations underline the Divine Freedom’. In particular Article 34 of the Anglican Articles of Faith 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.”

iv) The apostle Paul exhibits the use of the ‘Divine freedom’ when he says:

“I have become ALL things to ALL people so that by ALL possible means I might save some.” (Author’s emphasis)   1 Corinthians 9:22

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 Christians with frozen imaginations in regard to how we ‘do church’ and mission. 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 Christians to the exercise of the ‘Divine Freedom’ will be that this just isn’t ‘church’. 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 to what we have been doing and failing in for decades and of course that which fits with our traditional parish/local church mindset.

However, given the chronic missional failure of the Australian church it is urgent a new paradigm must be created that will ‘unbind’ church members and leaderships from their currently very limited mindset and encourage the exercise of the ‘Divine Freedom’ to the fullest extent. This will, and in many places already is, manifest itself in new forms of ‘church’- small missional communities, simple churches etc. which have the potential for much greater missional fruitfulness.

There is a warning however. The development of new forms of church is not an excuse for us to ‘do our own thing’! Rather, alternative forms of church, whatever their form, will only be legitimate in God’s sight and therefore likely to be missionally fruitful if they are shaped by the New Testament spiritual DNA (principles) for Christian community. Given this caveat, let us rejoice in the Divine freedom for missional churches and use it to maximum effect, for greater fruit for God’s glory.

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