Rewilding The Church Pt 1

“I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it.”

Isaiah 41:19-20

Following on from last weeks blog, we thought it’d be great to share the inspiration for the 6 weeks journey of listening we have started. Sam is currently reading Rewilding The Church by Steve Aisthorpe, and has been sharing his notes of each chapter with us; this was the spark of the process for us.

‘Rewilding’: to restore (an area of land) to its natural uncultivated state (used especially with reference to the reintroduction of species of wild animal that have been driven out or exterminated).

Definitions from Oxford Languages

The idea being that the rewilding area is able to go back to its natural state, without any human intervention or control. For example, many would believe that after the worlds biggest nuclear accident in human history, Chernobyl would be a devastated waste land. However, because it has been untouched for the best part of 30 years, it has become a haven for wildlife. The Chernobyl Exclusion Zone (CEZ), which covers 2,800 square km of northern Ukraine now has lynx, bison, deer and other animals roaming through thick forests. This now represents the third-largest nature reserve in mainland Europe and has become an iconic experiment in rewilding: it has been untouched by human hands and therefore nature has been left to do her thing, allowing the area to be just as nature intended.

Chernobyl’s thick forest, surrounding the abandoned CEZ

Aisthorpe connects this notion of rewilding to the Church saying that, though it is human nature to want to plan and control every detail, faith and Christianity is not something that we should be controlling. In fact, we need to relinquish all control, understand that Jesus should be at the wheel and that it’s time to ‘rediscover the adventure of faith’.

Enter our 6 week pause. We as a Church shouldn’t and don’t want to be the driving force here at Barking Riverside, instead we want to listen to what God wants us to do here and what the community needs from us. Therefore, instead of starting with strategic thinking, we need to focus on our identity with Jesus at the core; ‘we need to allow the work of God’s Spirit to form his character within us’.

For some, the Church is dwindling here in the UK, with more atheists and people of other faiths growing in size. However, with the global pandemic, as we have previously explored, people are still looking to the church for hope and there is a yearning to learn more about Jesus. This ‘holy yearning’ illustrates that the Church can and will grow organically. But our starting point is always coming to Jesus, for Him to be our focus, becoming His disciples and sharing Him with those around us.

By the definition of rewilding, we won’t know the outcome for Church At Barking Riverside, we don’t have the exact plan, nor all the answers as to how we will become self sufficient or authentically relevant to our community. All we know is God has led each of us to be here. As we give ourselves to Jesus first, He forms His Church in this place for this time. The Church is an inevitable and unstoppable expression of people in love with Jesus.

In the meantime:

  • please keep 1st August in your diary for our baptism celebration and family picnic
  • if there is something you would really like us to bear in mind along our listening journey, please don’t hesitate to get in touch here
  • you can also get more information about us as a Church and how to get involved here or check out our social platforms

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