The Provocative Church

The Provocative Church


Last month Revd Liz wrote about moving on to new things and challenged us to think:

“Perhaps we all need to try something before we say “No, I couldn’t possibly do that.” Perhaps we all need to be a bit less diffident about our talents”.


Her words come at a time when it appears that fewer people are stepping forward to fill the gaps left by those moving on or stepping back. That said, as a church fellowship we should also be aware that we cannot do everything and for this reason doing less, is not such a bad thing, especially if we do it better with renewed vision and enthusiasm. The trouble is, that some people just expect everything we’ve always done to carry on, or that it is a failure when something comes to an end. Nothing could be further from the truth. As Revd Liz said, quoting the writer of  Ecclesisastes, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven”.


It is good to take stock and review. Problems arise when we do nothing about change, do only the things we like to do, continue for the sake of it, or protect at all costs what “I’m”  doing for fear of losing a particular power base. It then becomes easy to blame other people for the demise of whatever it is the church is or isn’t doing. On my recent retreat I was considering my own part in all this as a leader using ‘The Rule of St Benedict and Leadership’ to consider some disciplines of good leadership. Needless to say there’s room for improvement! But there is also need to travel the road of change. For this we need clear purpose.


In his book ‘The Provocative Church’ Graham Tomlin asks “When was the last time you sensed danger in going to church”?  He explores evangelism and offers some thoughts on how to spot an evangelistic church. This is about being a community and not a closed institution; a community that faces outward and not inward. He says “at all our meetings our purpose should be to focus on Christ.” This very much resonated with me. Our purpose is to be serving Christ in all that we do, if it doesn’t, then we have to ask questions and this includes our need to empower evangelism.


In the coming months, we will be considering what God is calling us to do, and for this to happen, we all need to step forward, have a go and take a risk. After all, risky worship is about meeting with the living God who by the power and presence of the Holy Spirit can transform our prayers. Instead of waiting for something to happen, we become part of the solution.


This will excite some and horrify others. Is Nigel going to insist on evangelistic campaigns, guest services, evangelical power preachers and the like? Nope! That’s not my style. What I do hope will happen though, is that together we can explore what it means to be in a new relationship with God (Adoration), a new relationship with others (Belonging), a new relationship with creation (Compassion), with self (Discipleship) with words and action (Evangelism).


To this end we have a few new things developing in the coming weeks and we need people to come on the journey and get involved.

Every blessing

Nigel – Vicar