ANiC Goes To War

ANiC Goes To War

Our future in the Anglican Network in Canada is not one of bricks and mortar. Canadian law courts are stripping us of our churches and leaving us homeless.  This is a painful blessing.  We now have to fend for ourselves in a cold world.  We are reluctant to face this unexpected hardship, of course, but face it we must.  And, indeed, the more we think about it the more we can see a land of opportunity before us that promises a new Christian life with much more adventure and much more fun than we have had in a very long time. No buildings means no bills.  No fixed address means mobility.  No stained glass windows, no altars, no organs, no vestments, no fonts, no pews, no processions means people come first not things.

We are going to have to become – no doubt much against our will – the mobile units of the Christian church.  We are going to have to learn far more about operating in small groups and building those small groups from scratch.  We are going to have to do what churches of fixed address cannot do – that is move around freely, invade our pagan culture and occupy some part of that world as a Christian rendez-vous for those who reject that culture or are rejected by it, and then move on again – think of Brebeuf among the Hurons (without the stake!).

The pagan culture in which we find ourselves is a chaos of shallow religions, spiritual indifference and vehement atheism.  A swamp of ideas and ideologies.  It is also a desert of pain and loss, of heartbreak and anguish.  And it is in this desert that small mobile Christian groups can create an oasis of spiritual calmness, strength and nourishment and a refuge for those who do not find a means of life in the surrounding culture.  Small church groups, anchored in an orthodox Anglican theology, can do this in a way that no traditional church congregation can.  In such groups, the formal is replaced by the informal. Such groups can meet when they need to meet and where they need to meet.  They can attend to the needs of the individual and put those needs first.  They can interrupt a liturgy, for example,  to deal with a pressing issue or to welcome a newcomer.  Such small church groups can concentrate on spiritual growth and teaching, on healing, prayer, evangelism and fellowship in a way that traditional churches can not or do not do.

The challenge thus becomes to focus our attention on small mobile church groups:  how to organize them;  how to build them;  how to equip them.

In ANIC, we are inclined to think of future church growth in terms of church Projects,  church Plants and church Parishes.  That is, a small group driving toward a permanent structure and then toward a permanent building.  That is an option, but there is a place and a place of honour for small church groups with no such ambition but looking always outward and living out in the open, behind enemy lines.

 

D’Arcy Luxton