rainforestI’m a firm believer that Sweden needs a healthier rainforest. I really do and I’ll explain why. But wait a minute, you might say, you didn’t know that Sweden had a rainforest?! Well, it doesn’t. At least if what you mean by rainforest is a proper one like the one on Borneo or in the Amazonas (although that wouldn’t be bad at all, in my opinion!). 

Actually, the image of a rainforest has come to mean a lot to me and my wife  when it comes to thinking about church planting and what we hope to see emerging out of the context we’re in. If you look at a rainforest you will most likely see the gigantic and ancient trees that shoot upwards into the sky. They’re old and they’re impressive, and without them there wouldn’t be much of a rainforest to talk about. But if you look a bit closer there’s more to the rainforest than these huge and impressive trees – there’s vegetation growing pretty much everywhere! There’s vegetation on the ground, on the trees, and in between the trees. Everywhere. And that vegetation is just as much part of the rainforest as the big trees. Actually, I believe (although I’m aware of that I’m not a botanist!) that without all that vegetation there wouldn’t be much of a rainforest to talk about, at least not a healthy one. 

The problem with the church in Sweden, in my opinion, isn’t that there are too many big trees around – the problem is that there is too little vegetation growing in between. That vegetation is very important – besides giving evidence of a healthy rainforest – because it is able to grow in places where the big trees can’t. It is able to grow in and bring life to every nook and cranny imaginable. 
    We identify more with the vegetation in between than with the big trees, and we hope and dream about a Christian community that is able to grow in places where the church normally isn’t present. We’re not competing with the big trees, because together we can become a healthier rainforest, full of life and beauty. I guess that is part of what the Anglican church in England mean when they talk about “a mixed economy of church” – the inherited and emerging forms of church need each other and should work together, not view the other with mistrust.

 

(By the way, if you want to find out more about what is emerging in the Church of England, have a look at the Fresh Expressions website)

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