Some have been asking, what about the earlier model of The Church of the Saviour? Isn’t it a good enough way to be in meaningful community with others? As some of us have been exploring this different way of coming together, one thing we have discovered is that this supposedly “new” model is actually a very natural evolution of the “old” model that we’ve tried to embody faithfully for nearly 58 years.
We have always tried to follow the authentic Jesus, and to do so in small committed groups of people who are intentionally on an inward journey with God and one another and an outward journey with those who have been excluded, who are “other.”
We have been richly blessed by God, and yet when we look at our own churches we wonder, have we truly embodied the full, diverse nature of Jesus Christ? Have we impacted our society on behalf of the oppressed, challenging and changing systems that keep some outside? Have we become what God intended?
Sometimes we become so focused on sustaining what we’ve been given and wanting to honor the traditions of the past that we miss the new thing that God might be trying to do today, something that will build on all that has come before. We miss the surprises that lie in store for us. To be channels of that playful Spirit of eternal newness, we must always be ready to let go of what is in order to receive what will be. We must be ready to return to what is fundamental.
As long ago as 1963, Elizabeth O’Connor wrote in Call to Commitment that people were questioning why The Church of the Saviour was changing its structures. This is how she responded:
We never have expected to hit upon that final stable structure. This is important for a church to understand, for when it starts to be the church it will constantly be adventuring out into places where there are no tried and tested ways. If the church in our day has few prophetic voices to sound above the noises of the street, perhaps in large part it is because the pioneering spirit has become foreign to it. It shows little willingness to explore new ways. Where it does it has often been called an experiment. We would say that the church of Christ is never an experiment, but wherever that church is true to its mission it will be experimenting, pioneering, blazing new paths, seeking how to speak the reconciling Word of God to its own age, It cannot do this if it is held captive by the structures of another day or is slave to its own structures.
We must never let ourselves be held captive by the structures or traditions of any institution, including our own. We must be open to being given new structures and new methods that will serve the mission of Christ even better for this new time.
To be in the flow of God’s ever evolving movement, we will transcend all traditional and institutional loyalties, including loyalties to the very institutions we ourselves brought into being. We will adventure out into places where there are no tried and tested ways and be ready to experiment and pioneer and blaze new paths in order to make the news of our extravagantly loving liberating, reconciling God real to this age.