I’ve had a pretty varied last few days which has left me mulling over the words of Archbishop Rowan on belonging and the history of the church being renewed from the edges rather than the middle. The audios and the videos have now been uploaded on the fresh expression website here. They are all worth taking the time to listen to.
I think I agree that the church seems to historically be renewed from the edges. As I was listening to Archbishop Rowan last week I was envisaging myself as one of those people linking with those on the edges, looking for people on the fringe to be involved in this renewing. Looking for people to ‘tap on the shoulder’ of those that think they do not belong and remind that they do.
I have wondered this week, however, whether that is the case and whether that is, in fact, my role? Do pioneers work on the edge or do pioneers need too go beyond the edge. The edge still has a recognisable boundary, a place of safety or reference. We do not know what is beyond the edge, because we don’t go beyond the edge, for then it wouldn’t be ‘the edge’.
But I wonder … I wonder whether people on the edge want to belong because they are aware that ‘belonging’ is a possibility. Beyond the edge, however, I wonder whether this is as true. I’m not sure people beyond the edge need reminding that they belong because I’m not sure that people desire to belong. I believe a number of people living beyond the edge do not have the word ‘belong’ in their vocabulary They do not desire to belong because they have never belonged and not aware that belonging somewhere is a possibility. Belonging has never been an experience.
As well as people working at the edge, pioneers need to be people that are inspired in going off track, into the wilderness, beyond the recognisable fringe. They need to search out those areas where there are no obviously recognisable paths. They have no need of a map as they are drawing the map as they journey, mapping out various paths and many dead ends as they travel, usually alone, into new areas. Rather than working at the edge, they are creating a new edge.
And so I wonder – are pioneers called to constantly re-create a new edge for people to move towards? As they create that new edge, how do they show belonging is a real possibility to those who have never had any concept of belonging.
I need to think about those questions a little more ….