John got an invitation this week to be part of the board that is being set up to oversee the development of Mission-Shaped Ministry, which emanates from the Fresh Expressions initiative of the Church of England and the Methodist Church in the UK. He couldn’t resist saying yes right away – somewhat to the surprise of Andrew Roberts, who is director of training for Fresh Expressions and who thought he might have to do a bit of persuasion, cajoling, or ecclesiastical arm wrestling first. But for once (though not for the first time) it was an invitation to something that really matches where the church mice find themselves these days. What made it a no-brainer though was the explanation that they needed someone who would bring ’theological grit’ into the conversation.
That strikes us as a great image, which apparently we owe to Steven Croft, the new bishop of Sheffield. Grit can either fly all over the place and blind people, or be the little bit of irritation that gets inside an oyster and forms the basis of a pearl. Hopefully a contribution from a church mouse will produce pearls. That’s certainly his aspiration.