Wednesday, 3 August 2011

New Wine Zoo

Earlier on the week I mentioned that there were one or two nuances of Mark Bailey's talk that troubled me slightly. Don't get me wrong, I think his call to be passionate is timely, spirit-led and biblically accurate. That's why I called my troubles *nuances* only - feel free to comment below or respond via twitter if you think I've got this one wrong.

"Church does to people what zoos do to animals." I can't help agree with Mark on this one.

We tie ourselves up with structures that limit our creativity and, more importantly, limit the holy spirit.

It seemed to me that Mark was talking about the established church in this, referring to how we've turned Jesus into a synod-loving Jesus and how we're the most over-resourced, over educated, least effective church in Christendom.

Now the Church of England is an easy target in this. It's often caricatured and has been guilty of many wrongs in the past. But it's still the church. And Jesus loves it.

And, as I gaze out upon this tented slope before me, I can't help feeling there's something slightly zoo-ish about New Wine itself.

As a 7 year old attendee of the Dales Bible Week in the 1980s (that dates me), I was impressed at how every church group would have someone strumming a guitar first the morning, as each micro-community would join in their own corporate worship before getting on with the rest of the day. This was an empowering act - each group led by the Spirit - and as Kenny Borthwick reminded us this morning, it was part of the pattern of solitude at night, community in the morning and mission in the afternoon.

Yet I never see or hear those mini-acts of corporate worship at New Wine. Only the big stage stuff. It's almost like the music is of such high quality, that those people who can only bash out a few chords daren't do so. It wouldn't be good enough.

At this point I want to make a joke about jumper-wearing, bearded worship leaders from the past. But Kenny Borthwick today warned us of the trap of coolness - we live in a society where the cool-looking, beautiful people take the stage. Is that also true of New Wine? Is that part of the zoo that Mark Bailey was talking about?

I could go on, but I don't want to spend my time nit-picking over New Wine when I love I here so much. There's a far more constructive approach: individual and corporate repentance - because I think there are two responses to the thought that churches limit the Holy Spirit.

The first is to acknowledge where each of us, as individuals, have imprisoned ourselves. Are there traps of coolness or other things that are barriers to the Holy Spirit? We each need to spend time with God for Him to identify where our own attitudes and behaviours have become blocks to the Wild Goose. The second is to acknowledge that as New Wine churches we are part of the whole church and need to say sorry corporately for the whole church. It's not as though there isn't a biblical precedent for this. When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai with the very words of God written in stone tablets only to find the Israelites had made a golden cow to worship while he'd been away, he later repented for the whole Israel people - he didn't say "they did it" - he said, "we did it."

So how about it, New Wine? A huge corporate act of repentance to get us all out of our cages?

It might even spark a revival.

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