Weekly Blog - Paul Lancaster - Let’s go wild!!
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Posted on: 7th June 2022
Let's go wild!!!
This is not an invite to a wild party or maybe it is in some ways!
There has been a strong emphasis in ecology and environmentalism in recent times, on rewilding. Although these may be feeble examples, it was even mentioned at this year’s Chelsea Flower Show; the practise of “no mow May” seems to be catching on too, in order to boost the flowers, and nectar available to pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies. I will put in the widerness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle and the olive, I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together, so that all may see and know ….the Holy One of Israel has created Isaiah 41v19-20
Steve Aisthorpe in his book “Rewilding the church” (published at the beginning of Lockdown) uses the metaphor of ‘rewilding’ to raise some provocative questions for the Church. I too wonder whether now that the pandemic restrictions have been lifted, we are just getting back to ‘business as usual’, in spite of the fact there was much talk about NOT returning to normal? So, what does rewilding the church mean? As with the environment the desire to plan, manage, contain, tame and control has disrupted natural flourishing, so often similar patterns in church congregations can restrict the Spirit empowered movement we call Church.
This is not a call to abandon the Church (notice capital ‘C’) that Jesus spoke of, but to rediscover the adventure, life and Holy Spirit led dynamism, unhindered by excessively complex, domesticated and risk-averse institutionalism that so easily creeps into our mind sets. During lock down, apart from ‘virtual church’ we were forced to rethink what it meant to be Church. Many have rediscovered a deeper understanding of being a follower of Jesus and have not necessarily returned to organised church life. Whilst some may argue that this is not a good thing, others have found a new depth in their faith, relationships, and mission by meeting in smaller groups and finding themselves more widely connected.
So, wherever we are at, how can we discover what rewilding means for us, aware that this can be controversial in the natural environment as well as church? It certainly involves change, whether small or large. Rewilding is not conventional – how much are we allowing the non-conventional Holy Spirit to disrupt our lives in order for more life to be experienced and transmitted through us to others?
The rewilding process involves rediscovering who we really are and what it means to follow Jesus, our very source of life, ‘keeping our eyes fixed’ on him; it is not about ‘saving the church’, a preconceived view of church, new missional strategies or trying to be more culturally relevant.
Part of ‘rewilding’ involves releasing ‘biotic’ potential. Paul refers to this as “the immeasurable greatness of (God’s) power at work within us”. However, we have to be aware of invasive weeds, harmful habits and toxic influences that are a real hindrance. In Aisthorpe’s book he refers to the noxious influence of the frenetic, the poisonous pest of busyness, and the need to tackle fear that so often plagues the church. So much more could be said but as we ponder these things, let the wild, creative, innovative, unhindered , adventurous life of the Holy Spirit, centred on following Jesus be let loose again in our lives!
Reference:Aisthorpe.S Rewilding the Church. St Andrew Press (2020)
By Paul Lancaster (Hope for the Nations)