Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A Missional Rev in London

Dave Strain is a Free Church of Scotland minister in London. (I think there are two Free Church congregations in the city, so I'm guessing that Dave is not on his own.) Dave is a great guy, an artist, a theological thinker, and a man with a passion for mission and evangelism in cultural context. Although I don't know him very well, I did enjoy and benefit from his friendship while he was in Glasgow a few years back. I sometimes seek his advice on stuff that ministers and student ministers need help with now and again.

Dave is a progressive thinker - check out this post, where he describes his view of a church service. I believe one of the things Dave is trying to do is recover a high liturgical tradition in line with the 16thC Reformed (and Lutheran, perhaps?) orders of worship (this includes responses to prayers, vocal confession of faith, vocal confession of sin using a set text, etc).

Exciting stuff, indeed. I was given a taste of this kind of worship when Sinclair Ferguson was minister of St George's Tron, in Glasgow. I became aware of the opportunity that liturgy provided for safeguarding evangelical truth, while at the same time enriching Presbyterian worship experience. Quite frankly, bare hymn sandwich services, with the emphasis on children's addresses and sermons, are just not good enough. The people of God deserve more. I don't know if Dave has any sympathy for the emerging church movement - but, it strikes me that this kind of recovery of Reformed 16thC worship is essentially one expression of the emerging church movement - people are finding all sorts of ways to express their disgust at the poverty of so much that passed for worship in the modern (1700-1950?) era.

So, perhaps my dilemma of similarity thesis doesn't quite cover all church traditions or denominations - but it certainly can be applied within traditions or denominations - and, reading between the lines of his post, I think Dave might just agree.


C G said...


really enjoyed these last two posts.

Dave Strain said...

This was a very encouraging post. Thank you for your kind words. I need to get you down to preach for me sometime!

As for the emerging church movement, in general I find myself agreeing with a lot of its concerns and critiques of contemporary post enlightenment piety and established church life, and I enjoy much of what Mark Driscol has to say (and the blunt humour with which he says it). If he is emerging, and he says he is, then mabe even Free Church ministers can be too. Whod've thunk it!

A lot of what I hear and see in the whole emergent movement leaves me cold though. 'Generous Orthodoxy' in the end comes out looking like the Iona Community (more headless chicken than wild goose!). It is ecclectic without being critical. To steal a phrase from Dr Phil, the emergent movement has theological and ecclesiological 'boundary problems'. It constantly wants to embrace everyone and every theological stream, so that in the end I find myself in the curious position of asking Brian Maclaren et al the same question Pilot asked of Jesus, 'What is truth?'