One of the most stimulating parts of the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches for me has been the ecumenical conversations on renewal—a word which is often used, but rarely defined, in many Christian traditions. The conversation is headed toward a statement about renewal which will (hopefully) be adopted by the Assembly, but in this post I wanted to share some of the affirmations and challenges about renewal that surfaced in my small group with a Methodist gentleman from Nigeria and a Baptist woman from Ethiopia.
Here are the affirmations we noted:
- Renewal is God’s mission to bring us the abundant life Christ promises the world, which includes a relationship with him and justice and peace.
- Renewal incorporates the individual, the corporate/church, and the greater society.
- As they become more renewed, the individual becomes more like Jesus, the corporate/church becomes more like salt and light, and society looks more and more like God’s Kingdom, with justice and peace.
- Renewal is both the work of the Holy Spirit and also the work of humanity.
- Renewal involves both internal change (a stronger relationship with Jesus) and external change (more faithful social action).
The challenges which emerged from our small group included the following:
- Renewal is based on our interpretation of the scriptures, but different hermeneutics lead to different interpretations and therefore different understandings of renewal.
- Renewal requires change, which we resist as individuals and as churches.
- It is difficult to understand which changes are faithful and lead to renewal, and which changes are simply changes for the sake of change.
- We are tempted to believe that renewal is only about what we do, but it is also about who we are in Christ.
- Renewal of society requires churches to look outside of themselves, and for many churches this is a big change.
- Divisions within denominations show the need for renewal.
What affirmations and challenges would you add to the list?
For my previous post about the WCC assembly, please click here.
To follow the assembly, click here.