by Albert Bogle, of Sanctuary First
Albert Bogle has started a new blog series over at Sanctuary First all about "kite flying" - here's an intro but do pop over to the blog to explore the full tale and interact with this brilliant bit of thinking...
This is the first in a new regular series of blog posts under the heading 'Kite Flying' where we fly various kites — making a light framework of a few ideas and then throwing it in to sky to see what catches the current. Join us as we mull, wonder and daydream…
The church must never be in the business of preservation. We cannot be spectators of the past, disconnected from the functions of that which we are trying to preserve. Instead we have to understand that we are called to conservation: to be custodians of the past in order to conserve that which is still valid and valuable. Understanding and defining the term ‘Heritage Mission’ will be a valuable exercise, allowing us to walk in the shoes and buildings of past generations. Not simply to applaud their ingenuity and artistic creativity but to join with them in their exploration of beauty, faith and worship and continue the journey they started. To talk of preservation is static — to talk of conservation is to include movement and development.
Scotland has an amazing heritage that the Christian church can use as a mission statement speaking out prophetically and acknowledging when in the past we have got things wrong, but also conserving and celebrating the heritage of faith that is inspiring us to be more compassionate, radical, generous and godly.
The unique relationship between church and state given to the Church of Scotland by Parliament need not be seen as an outdated ‘Preservation Society’, wearing past generation’s clothes, but rather a forward looking prophetic community conserving all that is best from the past and embracing all that the Spirit is doing in the present. Thus creating a relevant heritage that continues to leave a legacy to speak to future generations
In this post I want to explore two particular aspects of ‘spiritual conservation’ which I will call ‘Heritage Mission’. I believe recasting our understanding of mission to include: nature, ecology, architecture, the arts and technology will be essential for the church in the immediate years that lie ahead as we recover from COVID-19. If the church embraced Heritage Mission I believe it could be used to help many on the fringes of faith discover the presence of the living God walking with them in their journey of faith exploration. There are of course many more areas that could be and should be explored under this title.
Research has shown a growing interest in heritage trails and heritage history and also personal heritage. Recent research into behaviours towards faith reveal that a growing number of people could be described as belonging to the ‘invisible church’. This group of people have either left or never been involved with organised religion but they maintain a sincere respect for the teachings of the Christian faith which they see as part of their heritage. The challenge for Heritage Mission is to convert people of sincere faith conservation into conversations that lead beyond idealism to living encounters with the risen Christ.
In other words, people are no longer looking to science to give them proof of God or meaning in their lives; they are looking to the arts and to the beauty and wonder of nature to inspire them and give them purpose for living — often when living through the difficult and disappointing experiences of their lives. It is here in this place that the inherited models of church and mission need to engage in a more radical understanding of what it means when Jesus spoke of the day coming when women and men would not look to preserve a tradition of worship in one place but come to understand the meaning of ‘worshipping God in Spirit and in truth’...
If some of these ideas interest you, Albert would love to hear from you: firstname.lastname@example.org
Very Rev Albert Bogle