I’ve returned from the Greenbelt Festival with a host new things to think about. I didn’t get to too many talks this year as it was my first greenbelt with a baby – definitely a different experience – but I did take in a bit of music and a few seminars.
Two talks by Tom Sine were very interesting. Tom is the author of Mustard Seed versus McWorld which has been on my ‘to read’ pile for a while and he recently wrote a new book – The New Conspirators. He spoke about the need for radical discipleship and authentic community, especially in the midst of the current recession. This has, he says, exposed the lies of capitalism that single-family detached suburban dwellings are the best ways to live. There are cheaper and more community-focussed ways. Many Christians, he claimed, are simply painting a veneer of Christianity over a fairly standard middle class lifestyle which many young people can’t afford anymore yet still strive for. He called for communities of Christians to re-discover Jesus-centred community in the way they live, quoting examples from fresh expressions, emerging churches and more radical ‘new monasticism’ being practised by some. There was a lot of truth in there and it leaves a lot to think about. My questions on that are, if radical community is the way, how does it reach out the message and character of the gospel amongst those outside the ‘new monsastic’ community, amongst those who are presumably happy with a suburban middle class lifestyle. I’ll have to read his book!
Also went to a very engaging seminar hosted by the Methodist Church about pioneers and fresh expressions. Made a couple of good contacts in the seminar, including someone who is three years into a similar project in Kent, and someone else whose Christian relatives live in my area. Most productive!
And there was a decent seminar on interactive / unfinished worship which allows the congregation to be active participants in what is going on, rather than passively consuming what the church leadership have served up. (Maybe I’ll blog a bit more about that tomorrow!)