Ministry to Melbourne's Docklands
written by Rev Gary Heard

The Docklands Churches Forum (DCF) is an eclectic mix of spiritual traditions, drawn together by a common desire to see Christian presence and ministry within the emerging Docklands community. Everyone on the forum is being pushed way outside a comfort zone within which churches usually operate: facing a community which is alien in its structure and language. We are literally outsiders to this gated community of people: an anonymous and privatised community. We are confronted with significant questions and challenges to our understanding of God at work.

Church communities are not accustomed to being uncertain about their place and identity. Our historical antecedents have been clear on two things as they began the pathways into the present denominations. In the first instance, they expressed a clear dissatisfaction with the status quo, accompanied by a deepening belief that change from the inside was impossible. They were equally clear and passionate about the things to which they were seeking to give expression. Place, need and opportunity were before them, and they grasped it firmly and diligently. Such things cannot clearly be said about the constituent members of the DCF. Drawn together and sharing in a common commitment to minister to the new Docklands, the constituent churches do not necessarily express dissatisfaction with the church as it is, but confront the reality that the traditional expressions of church and doorways for ministry are not available. Therefore to confront the challenges of ministry is to reexamine the foundations of church and faith, and to look for opportunities to express them anew. This is both an uncomfortable and challenging position to occupy.

Here we confront the challenge laid down by Jesus: “For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39) Dare we move in directions which fundamentally challenge the ways in which we see ourselves and our ministry? Will we see the gospel incarnated until we do?

The challenges facing the DCF are similar to those we face today: to risk losing the identity which has defined this community in order to see discover the life of Jesus Christ made fresh/flesh in and through us.

February 6, 2005
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