I've had a most interesting conversation regarding the re-visioning of Church and the desire that Church would one day be a place of 'inclusion and acceptance' rather than a place of 'exclusion, rules and regulations'.
Of course me being me I had to say that surely what was needed (and desirable) was an inclusive Church; inclusive, not permissive, but I found that this was a different vision of the accessible and inclusive Church they had. In fact by the time they'd outlined their 'Church model of choice' I'd come to the conclusion that what they wanted sounded very much like the world and rather than reinvent the wheel all that was needed was for them to walk outside the door and enjoy themselves to their hearts desire.
Of course, saying it wasn't too popular - but let's be fair, I'm probably never going win one of those popularity contests now am I? Not only that, but as me dear old Mum used to say, 'Tell the truth and shame the devil,' so I get some Pharisee points for that and perhaps a few more for my integrity and candour (No, oh well!).
My struggle is that some have the idea that the path to a Church that is spoken of well and is 'popular' and flourishing is for us to stop being seen as a place of negatives. If we stop 'disapproving' and start 'affirming' the result is obvious, we will have re-invented Church and this new inclusive entity will flourish.
The reason I struggle lies in the fact that the logic behind it works on the premise that the removal of those issues or elements that cause conflict or contend with societal attitudes or values results in a lack of tension and division and pave the way to popularity.
The reality, as I see it however, is different and obvious:
i. Remove the current issues and, like buses, there will be another one behind.
ii. If the ground upon which the Church stands is slowly undermined, the building upon it collapses.
iii. Many of the issues that cause conflict are concerned with behaviour and attitudes and often come back to moral behaviour and that old fashioned, and much vilified, word 'sin'.
iv. What we need is to be engaged in inculturation. To learn the language of the culture and work to make the Christian message accessible and understood - after all, Christianity isn't about 'don't' it's about 'done!'
I don't think we need to revise the Church or the Bible but rather need to rethink our apologetics and renew the passions of those who call themselves Christian; to get back to basics and early Church practices.
I don't think we are engaged enough in the issues of social justice and this is more than folly, it's disobedient too!
I don't think making Church look like the world has any great value - for 'counter-cultural' has always been the reality when describing God' people (old and new) - what has value is love, integrity and acceptance. This is what Church does best.
Of course I didn't convince my opponent :-)