Church Planting

"Whoever is not against us is for us", Mark 9:40.

We have all heard of church planting. Anglican parishes and dioceses have for years helped to plant churches in mission areas, from the edges of rapidly developing cities to villages untouched by the gospel.

In the Sydney diocese, Australia, the business of church planting has taken a new twist. A number of the leading neo-puritan parishes in Sydney are into cloning their particular form of Anglicanism throughout Australia. Their shape is Presbyterian in theology (reformed in theory) and Baptist/semi-Charismatic in style (arminian in practice). This shape has very few links with Anglicanism. Naturally the Bishops throughout regional Australia are rather disturbed by this innovation. Imagine how the local Anglican clergy feel when they find a new "church-without-buildings" planted in their parish?

The reasoning behind this move is typically puritan. It's the "only we have the truth" syndrome. There is an underlying belief that only Reformed Evangelicals can properly exercise gospel ministry. Middle to High Church Anglicans are dismissed as ineffective in gospel ministry. Even conservative Evangelicals like myself are distrusted, let alone the local Presbyterian, Baptist, etc. who now has to contend with the consequences of an increased choice in worship venues.

How foolish to dismiss the ministry of a person simply on the basis of style, as if robes, colour, liturgy.... or the like could in any way restrict the gospel. How foolish to duplicate a form of ministry already perfected in non conformist churches. A love for Jesus and His Word is not limited to Evangelicals.

It is true that throughout the Anglican communion there is a range of churchmanship. Evangelicals have always contended against ritualism, sacramentalism, liberalism, and more recently pentecostalism. On the other hand middle to high churchman have contended against the puritanism, arminianism and often downright anarchism of their low church brothers and sisters. Yet we have lived together till now, with the Prayer Book in one hand and the Bible in the other.

There is allot to be said in support of parish boundaries. Even if a minister worked 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no parish would be too small for them. A little bit of mutual respect is all that is required.

[Pumpkin Cottage]