October 2018

Greetings from Glo Church!

I have had a number of opportunities to share the story of Glo within the Diocese in recent weeks. It’s been a joy to talk about the importance of our partnership in the gospel and the courage and faithfulness of the people of All Saints’ in resourcing mission to this community. All Saints’ really is being celebrated as an example of
how larger churches can facilitate mission to poorer communities. My prayer is that this commitment might be replicated right across Chester as we seek to pioneer ministry into the forgotten communities.

In this sense, All Saints’ is pioneering the way for others to follow.

With that in mind, I’d like to share some of my recent reflections on the role of a pioneer. This will hopefully give some insight into the heart of Glo Church, but also, I pray, stoke the fire that burns for pioneering mission in Marple.

The heart of faithful pioneering isn’t in discovering something new, although it can often appear that way from the outside, but rediscovering something of the past. The ideas and practices of the faithful pioneer aren’t novel, fashionable or ‘relevant’ adaptations of the Gospel but an obedient compulsion to return to the ancient and narrow way of Jesus Christ.

In Orthodoxy, GK Chesterton describes revolution as restoration. He outlines the necessity of constant reformation in order to remain true to the original call of Christ. In true pioneering, the movement is not away from the plumb line of faith but a return to it. Chesterton argues that people generally assume “if you leave things alone you leave them as they are. But you do not. If you leave things alone you leave it to a torrent of change”. He uses the illustration of a white post which over time gets dirty and blackened. Change is necessary to make it fit for original purpose. If you want an old white post, you must have a new white post.

King Josiah’s reign is just one example of this. Remarkably, under the governance of
previous kings, God’s people were living and worshipping without any reference to the book of the law. They had lost their way but weren’t aware of it. It is only when Josiah found and read the Scriptures hidden in the temple that he realised how far they had strayed from God’s ways. Josiah, a faithful servant of God, immediately instigated massive reform. He reordered the temple, destroyed worthless items, fired people from jobs that should never have existed, banished dishonourable groups from the place of worship and stopped questionable spiritualistic and superstitious activities that had crept in over time. He was ruthless in removing everything Idolatrous from the community in order that they might bring glory to the God of their ancestors. Significantly, he reestablished the Passover meal, the table fellowship of the people of God.

To the people of Judah, this would have seemed like an entirely new way of life, not
without significant disruption. And, yet, Josiah’s actions didn’t represent anything new,
he was simply calling the people of God back to their roots.

So often, both pioneers and institutions adapt the vision to the reality they see in front of them. Chesterton argues that we must have a fixed vision in order to change our reality. In other words, the vision is Christ. By continually returning to the vision, we are able to change our lived reality.

This is the role of the pioneer, the activist and prophet, who calls the church back to
what was… to union with Christ, communion with His church and His commission to
seek and to save what is lost.

With love and in Christ…

Phil Harris

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