7 reflections on a mixed economy of church

September 26th, 2018

1. A mixed economy is a willingness to see a form of church that may not be most comfortable or comprehensible for us as an instrument that God chooses to use and bless in this world for the sake of the mission — to make disciples, to transform communities.

2. A mixed economy is our capacity to embrace law and love — law when to do so will help our brother or sister not to stumble, law as a disciplined life, love when law becomes an end in itself and is used as a tool to oppress or exclude.

3. A mixed economy is gratitude for the inherited church — we sit under the shade of trees we did not plant, and hope for the fresh expression of church — we desire fruitfulness and not famine among generations to come.

4. A mixed economy is the creative work of a God who prefers the catholic to the parochial, the diverse to the standardized, who endows us with many languages and cultures and dialects, who places us in many contexts, who delights in the chorus when everything that breathes offers praise to the Lord.

5. A mixed economy is the apostolic journey into the unknown and unexplored, and correspondingly the refusal to stay in the well-defined places where we have been. It is more like new creation and less like nostalgia. It is a more like holy curiosity and less like dogmatic equations.

6. A mixed economy is contemplation and action, the inner work we would most often prefer to avoid and the external engagement that is just as messy and chaotic. While our personal preference may be for one or the other, a life of integrity includes both.

7. A mixed economy serves a greater purpose — more mission, more healing, more conversions, more justice, not among the few but among the many, not only in our tribe but among all the nations. It is a movement from death to life, from a closed tomb to the promise of resurrection.

Kenneth Carter is the author (with Audrey Warren) of Fresh Expressions: A New Kind of Methodist Church. He also wrote Embracing the Wideness: The Shared Convictions of The United Methodist Church. Both titles are from Abingdon Press.

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