Some work I was doing today reminded me of recently coming across some intriguing suggestions about the church in its ‘sodal’ (i.e., actively, timely, conspiratorial) form and its ‘modal’ (settled, long-haul) form.  It put me in mind of sociologist Bryan Wilson’s assertion of a distinction between ‘timely truth’ and ‘timeless truth’ when it comes to religion, and I suspect the most effective religious movements are those that manage to hold the two in tension and deal in both.  It also puts me in mind of the distinction in Mike Breen’s work between the ‘pioneer’ and ‘settler’ forms of church.

For more on ‘sodal and modal’ there’s a great article on the Sheffield Centre’s website, by George Lings (http://sheffieldcentreresearch.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/why-modality-and-sodality-thinking-is-vital-to-understand-future-church/) plus a link to the original use of the term by Ralph Winter, and also some good stuff in a blog posting by the ever-thought-provoking Jonny Baker (http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/jonnybaker/2011/03/new-monasticism-this-has-been-a-surprise.html) who was the first person I heard using the words ‘sodal and modal’ in a seminar at Queen’s in Birmingham earlier this year (although I’m pretty slow on the uptake – the term has been widely used in missiological circles since the 60s and 70s).

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