Can pioneers water down the gospel? (David Muir)

Monday, 30 March, 2009

David MuirDavid Muir asks whether pioneers can water down the gospel.

As an Ordained Pioneer Minister, I am sometimes asked whether gospel truths are being watered down in my pioneer work. People are worried that I may be diluting the challenge of the gospel in order to make it acceptable to the kinds of people I want to reach.

I can only agree that this is a genuine and important concern. Pioneer work involves expressing Christian faith in new and innovative ways, ways that resonate with people in our society and strike a chord in their hearts. It seeks to reformulate Christian truth and Christian lifestyle in order to apply the wisdom and grace of God to a different situation. There is a danger that we are not wise and astute enough to sustain the abiding truth of the gospel as we put new clothes on it. Keeping Christianity true to itself requires constant vigilance.

I think this is a danger that most of us pioneers are very aware of. Precisely because we long for people to embrace the Christian faith, we are tempted to 'soften' the gospel where it sits uncomfortably with people's values and viewpoints. But the danger mustn't deter us from engaging in the process of making the gospel relevant to today's society. An irrelevant gospel is just as untrue to the Faith as a watered down one. Both deprive the gospel of its power.

Christian faith becomes richer as it becomes more diverse

But beyond the danger there is a wonderful thing happening in pioneer work. As the gospel is related to more situations, to more different kinds of people, the truth of God keeps expanding. The wisdom of God is shown to be wise in new and unexpected ways. The grace of God transforms yet another situation, which we had never seen before. Far from being diminished and diluted, Christian faith becomes richer as it becomes more diverse. Christ is shown to be truly the Saviour of the whole world.

About the author: 

David Muir is an Ordained Pioneer Minister supporting 23 largely rural parishes to create fresh expressions of church. He is also course leader of The Pioneer Disciple, msm in Devon.


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