1. NEVER DO THE SAME THING TWICE
First time is radical. Second time is a tradition. Let the excitement of not knowing what will happen, and the adventure of going to places we’ve never been, be the faith we express and trust in our discipleship.
3. DARE TO BE CREATIVE
It is a long time since we were allowed to use only one or two senses in worship and creating worship space. People have different learning styles and God is unpacked and discovered anew when we try out a new sense or allow a new emotion or engage through art, music, poetry, that engages with the space and community and context in which we find ourselves.
5. REMEMBER WE ARE LIVING
Sometimes we forget that bit. When we are fully alive we use all our gifts and emotions in laughter and questions, sorrow and wonder when we express our faith formally or informally. Worship isn’t meant to do us down, but gives us a chance to be lifted up.
7. IT ISN'T ABOUT 'ME'
It is about ‘us’. Faith expression is a community activity. God’s grace is given to the community. God’s salvation is for the community and that extends wider than a few streets round the church. It ventures out into the world.
9. ALL GOD'S PEOPLE...
...have plenty to say to enrich our life together. It’s minister led but not exclusively so. All ages participate in expressing faith in prayers and worship in ideas and belief and music and just being God’s People. It’s called theology and the best theology isn’t written down but expressed in life.
11. SPACE TO BE OURSELVES
Point 10 is blank because we attempt to offer space to be ourselves and invite ourselves to respond as ourselves rather than in a particular way. From Remembrance Sunday to harvest we offer people a space to reflect and respond honestly to the events of the world.
13. SOMETIMES WHAT WE DO WORKS...
...and sometimes it doesn’t, but even when it doesn’t seem to work, actually it does because we are together, in community and we learn, and rediscover what it is to make mistakes, learn something new, find ourselves on new ground, and know what is important. It isn't a performance, but an engagement with mystery. Who knows how any of these things really work, invite change and open up new experiences, but they do.
15. JESUS IS A STORY
He is the word among us. He isn’t the last thing we mention but we finish everything with him. Just like this manifesto.
A lot of people imagine worship is… well dull with the best bit being the ‘bit for children’. If that is the best bit, then dare express our worship in these more colourful, interactive, conversational ways. That’s how you build a relationship with meaning and depth and it certainly isn’t just for children. They just show us how to do it.
4. TELL STORIES...
...as if we are hearing them for the first time. Remember David and Goliath or the fish with the coin in it’s mouth? Stories are the vehicle for faith. They aren’t children’s stories and it is good to visit them again as adults now we’re past the stage when we take everything as literal truth. They speak anew the ancient truths. That is done by word of mouth, or by the shape of the worship space or the relationships we build. We’re continually telling verbal and non-verbal stories in faith expression.
6. ARTISTS PERFORM, FOLLOWERS FOLLOW
Faith Expression is about real life and our expressing of our faith recognises we aren’t playing at following. It is for real. It doesn’t leave certain subjects untouched, nor us unaffected. We may not all agree or like what we hear or see but it does send us away asking questions, laughing, crying, and hopefully hitting a nerve when it needs to be hit.
8. NOR IS IT ABOUT BUILDINGS
The building is stunning, and it helps our worship, but it doesn’t contain it. It shapes it. The building has doors and they don’t open in only one direction. If we come in, then we go out again too.
12. LOTS TO SAY
While we create reflective space we also have lots to say because we don’t leave our minds at the door. Nor do we leave our hearts their either. We have a passion for things and a sense of compassion towards issues and people we meet in real life. So we have lots to say about issues that aren’t so easily sorted such as sexuality, music, social justice...
14. GOD ISN'T AN ORNAMENT
God is a way of being together. All the above speaks of God through our relationship to love and grace and justice and each other. Expressing faith doesn’t mean you need to mention God in every sentence to be a follower but that we recognise God in every person, word and in silences between.
Nineveh was a city with a bad reputation but it didn’t last, the reputation, that is, because the reluctant prophet called Jonah reluctantly entered the city and reluctantly preached the gospel and almost immediately the whole entire city repented.
This didn’t please the reluctant prophet because he had to reluctantly conclude this meant God wasn’t reluctant to include everyone, even foreigners into the kingdom and that in turn meant Jonah would have to do something about his reluctance and reluctance is a difficult thing to get rid of, especially if you tend to be reluctant. Reluctance can be a big problem for religious folk.
52 Stories: The BOOK