You REPA what you sow

A “storm in a teacup” – a minor argument or fight – is sometimes useful.  It can help you see people in a new light. Consider the “storm in a teacup” that followed the proposal in a recentSouthern Cross that the diocese set up a College of Church Music.

One of our young-ish and trendy-ish rectors started to dream of how to set up such an institution in his church building. He’s the sort of bloke who uses jazz concerts as part of a mission week after all.

On the other hand the editor of the local magazine, The Briefing, Tony Payne, was moved to write a heavy-handed satire about the diocese setting up a football academy.

Tony is one of those whose immediate reaction was that a music academy would be a waste of money. The trendier mob think of it as a no-brainer to train better musicians – music is a good way to connect to people who need Jesus. All the people involved in our storm in a teacup are conservative evangelical types. They even like each other. So why the divide?

This pewsitter thinks that there might be a generational change here. Even to suggest this sounds simplistic and there will be heaps of exceptions, but please persevere. The Briefing is the house journal of the no longer young Turks who stormed the battlements of church house some years ago and finally took it over.  They are the people who rightly re-awoke Sydney Anglicans to church planting and the need for vigorous evangelism.

They are the new establishment. Once the critics of the diocese’s centralized apparatus they have become its masters. Youthworks and now Anglicare have set off in new directions with extra fizz.

But every generational takeover has an equal and opposite reaction (as Isaac Newton did not quite say).

While The Briefing, generation come to terms with turning the Titanic around, a new crop of ministers, newly put in charge of speedboats want to experiment and change things. Under the influence of examples of places like Mark Driscoll’s Mars Hill church in Seattle where cultural edginess is married to conservative theology, good music is seen is vital weapon in the battle for young minds. 

The younger Turks have come of age in the church-planting era and they want to tease out NEW ways of reaching NEW people groups.

The establishment group was the impatient men of their time. Many of them were part of a ginger group with the cumbersome name “Reformed Evangelical Protestant Association”- REPA.

But last month’s Southern Cross reported a new group of ministers banding together to set up their own shared parish missions. They are not waiting for St Andrew’s house to organise it, they are impatient for mission. (And St Andrews house is probably cheering them on anyway.)

They may not all be so young, and they don’t sound so militant, but there is something REPA-ish about this new group. You might say you REPA what you sow.

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