Personally, I found the time profoundly restorative and hopeful. The Brits with whom we connected were overwhelmingly hospitable, and gave us a great deal to think about. I came home wrestling with some new ideas, and grateful for the following challenges:
- What might church look like in my own context? I've tried, too often, to find "just the right answer" to the question "What is church?" Each of the folks with whom we met answered that question differently, and each service we visited reflected diverse perspectives. This leads me to believe that God gives us the freedom to work out that answer uniquely for our specific context. What freedom!
- Who needs perfection? It seems we Americans feel tremendous pressure for a strategic, fully developed plan before we begin to implement. Relatively speaking, the folks we met with in London were remarkably laid back. When they felt the urge to start something new, they just did. It was clear that mountains of effort and time & energy went into their services, but very few groups had started out with a long-term plan. The excellence and beauty they achieved were, at least initially, on a "case-by-case" basis. And when things went amiss, they chalked it up to experience and kept going. Again, what freedom!
If you're interested in a visual story of the time, we've posted several short films. You can view clips of services we attended, as well as interviews with a number of leaders who graciously indulged our curiosity.
It was thrilling to meet with folks who enjoy the freedom of living into new ways of faith, and I was challenged to find ways to do the same, even back here in the heartland.