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In other words, the context (terrain) where the church finds itself today is quite different to the past. So much so that the old ‘maps’ are more than misleading and they can easily get us lost. If we are to “rethink our stance entirely” the church needs to go back to the drawing board and redraw its maps. We need to relocate ourselves in the changing terrain.
It is only after we have located our position on the redrawn map that we will able to discern the most appropriate way for us to venture forward. Current modes of operating are no longer appropriate for the new terrain, they will not get us to where we want to go. Becoming a “missionary church” is Robinson’s suggestion of what we need to become if we are to move ahead.
In my blog last week I reflected on the relatively recent development within the Australian church where we are beginning to take seriously the task of presenting the gospel to Australians in culturally appropriate ways. For too long we have borrowed from our British and American Christian counterparts, presuming their approach to mission and evangelism would transfer to our Australian context. But if we had taken time to map our history and culture we would have confirmed what we have discovered in practice – these imported programs are not suited to local conditions.
Australia is a little over 200 years old. We are a relatively new country, with our own history and culture. Australian cities are different from each other and in other ways we are unique. In Hobart, where I work and live, the Baptist churches have accepted the challenge to “rethink our stance” and “become a missionary church” through our 2020 Vision. A foundational feature of that challenge is to understand our history and our culture so we can better navigate our way ahead and bring the gospel to our fellow Hobartians in a way they will hear, understand and hopefully accept.
Much has changed since Hobart Baptist Church was established with courage and determination back in 1884. Yet, that same courage and determination is what we need as we face the challenge of what it means to be a “missionary church” in Hobart in 2015.
I bet it is the same in the church where you live too.
Stephen L Baxter
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