Last year at a gathering of NAMS Companions and friends a controversy broke out. The central issue turned out to be: “Is NAMS Anglican or not?” I must confess I was stunned. All my life I have been part of the community of Christians who owe their life in Christ to the coming of the gospel to England. All my life I have worshipped in the liturgical tradition that came from the apostolic church through England. Since I was 22 years old I have given my life as a leader in the Anglican family of the church of Jesus Christ. The question undid me?
I have prayed and struggled for over four months with this personal question: “How could men I care for so much ask that question of me?” What had I said or done in the last few years that could have brought this doubt to the surface? What was NAMS doing now that made that question come to the fore?
Two things, which are interrelated, seem to be the answers. The first relates to the outcome of our work.
From day one NAMS was charged (by our three founding diocesan bishops) to plant new Great Commission Congregations. This is the outcome of our work. We want to see those congregations we help plant be obedient to the clear teaching of the One who gave the Great Commission. We help plant communities of faith that “submit to Christ“ in all things (Eph 5:21). Obedience to the Great Commission is not an option, it is the final command of the Lord Jesus. None of the things that are necessary for this to happen are unique to Anglicanism. They are Christian.
The second answer is related to the first. We have found over a lifetime that the heart of a Great Commission community is a people who have learned to be disciple-making disciples.
Making disciple-making disciples has been a central part of our practical strategy at NAMS from the beginning. It is the basic building block for planting new congregations. We have taught this everywhere and always. But we did not see clearly when we began how rare this elementary Christian way of life was in our denominational family. Now we know it has to be re-introduced if the work we have been given is to prosper and flourish. There is no way to be obedient to the Lord’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:19) without this re-introduction. Therein lies the root of the most serious objection from some of our friends. Most of the traditions of our denominational family do not facilitate this task, or at least in a rapidly reproducible fashion.
Are we to be loyal to our traditions or to the clear teaching of the Lord? The answer to us at NAMS has always seemed clear. We must serve the Lord. This has been true of NAMS from the beginning. We have not changed our mission.
— Jon Shuler