Tuesday, July 21, 2009
a whole new spin on organic church
As part of my weekend, my hosts took me to Heronswood. It was interesting to wander the place, thinking about how mission and church life. You see, here I was an outsider. I’m not a convert, not an “organo-freak” and I’m a tourist, visiting Australia, just passing through. As I wandered, asking myself: how many entry pathways do communities of faith offer? how many types of learning do we encourage? how many “give-it-a-go,” beginners type resources do communities of faith offer?
Here is what Heronswood offered:
1. A space: a historic house and established gardens, around which one could wander, free of charge, absorbing the peace, or pay a small entry fee to wander another part of the garden.
2. A cafe: selling a range of food, a real try before you buy experience of new vegetables and imaginative possibilities.
3. A demonstration garden: ln which new vegetable varieties were grown, stretching the imagination, offering possibilities. Tied to this was a demonstration plot showing “the size of garden needed to feed 3 people for a year.” It was quite stunning to realise how little a space of land was required to grow vegetables.
4. Which was tied to “product” in the form of plants, seeds and books. You could buy those new possibilites you see in the garden. You could purchase the seed pack required to start your own garden. Lots of resources were targeted at beginners, both books and hands on starter kits.
5. Regular workshops were offered, in how to plant, compost, harvest. A chance for relationships, a chance for those who might not get books, but might learn by hands on practice.
6. A festival, twice a year, offered a chance to celebration.
7. A committed core, the diggers club (what a great name) in the form of a membership group.
What would it mean to stimulate our thinking by placing ecclesial life and mission alongside this type of multi-faceted place, the hands on experimentation, the one-off workshops, the festivals, the demonstration plots, offering a wide variety of ways to access?
Most churches offer a church service, which is essentially targeted at (7) the committed core, the members, those inside the community. If they get missional, they run (2) a cafe or a variety of community facing programmes. But it pales into insignificance alongside workshops, festivals, product, demonstrations, space and core.
A common response when I talk about spirituality2go is “lack of resources”, yet this was at heart a business, who have find a way to offer their resources in a sustainable financial model.
Another response is the limitation of buildings. Yet here was a place defined by a building – the old homestead – at their centre, who had simply built pathways and produces in and around this.
Opawa has made some moves in this spirituality2go direction. Our lenten wilderness blog, our 7 practices, our art installations (and an article on whether the Opawa art installations are foyer or signposts) are all hints. But there’s so much more to explore.
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