Thursday, April 05, 2007

A new read... a continuing journey...

So I started reading this book by a guy named Alan Hirsch entitled (that means - named) The Forgotten Ways. (Corrie, thanks for the recomendation.) I was actually looking for some insights on discipleship in our culture but it appears the book is more about approaching how God's church could look or must look in todays culture to be at its best or to be what it was created to be. (Which to an extent I am certain will tap into discipleship.) It's premise is looking at places in history and in the present at where The Church has been thriving and beautiful and trying to "point to " varibles that lead to this thriving. It's not as formulaic as it sounds. It's really just saying the only absolutes we have in looking at these things are our own personal observations and experiences, so why ignore them.

I am in the first chapter I am already challenged. He says this "In the study of the history of missions, one can even be formulaic about asserting that all great missionary movements begin at the fringes of the church, among the poor and the marginalized, and seldom if ever at the center. It is vital that in pursuing missional modes of church, we get out of the stiffling equilibrium of the center or our movements and our denominations, move to the fringes, and engage in real mission there."

While I am a church planter and possibly a Pastor (not by title but by giftedness or calling) I am constantly reminded of how my concern, desire, or passion is not to build a big church where people gather together on Sunday and thats it. Not a place where we have a center, place ourselves there, and expect people to come to us. I want to be apart of a community of people on mission to share the love, hope, peace, and resurrection power of the gospel of our Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ. I pray I am willing to risk everything including my job, my income, and even my life should it be necessary to be apart of such community.

Hirsch mentions the current decline of the church in the west and also in Australia where he is from. According to statistics it is not due to a lack of "spiritual seeking" or even "Jesus openess" (both my terms - sorry to poorly paraphrase) as an increasing percentage of people report a "yes" to God and to Jesus but that same increase is also saying "no" to the church. My prayer is that our church and the Church as a whole can find a place to meet people where we do not expect them to first be willing to walk in through the doors of a building that could represent oppression and/or judgement o reven worse to them.

I am becoming more and more aware of the gospel being for everyone and not just those willing and/or able to come sing songs with us on Sunday morning. If this is the case then it is our calling as the church to be on constant mission to bring this hope that we celebrate to all of the world and namely our neighbors.

My prayer for Visio Dei is not to become the church where "cool people" go, the place with the great teacher, or the place with the cool vibe (Lord knows we don't have to worry about it being the place with great music.) My prayer is that we will be an authentic Jesus community living on the fringes of culture taking a radical message of Hope to the world around us. I fully believe that is the only Church worth giving our life to and I fully believe that is the gospel that Jesus allowed himself to endure the cross for.

Just some thoughts from the first chapter... a new book... a continuing journey... may we follow Jesus more and more closely...

Love and Peace,

-J

1 comment:

kaelius said...

a) Being humble doesn't mean being self-denigrating. The music at Visio Dei IS good, and it doesn't bring any glory to anyone to slam it. Ooo..that sounded harsh. Maybe a smiley will lighten it up? :)

b) re: discipleship. In one of my favorite podcasts (The White Horse Inn), they recently pointed out (well, just before new year's eve, but I'm a bit behind) that during the Reformation, many churches looked around and basically said "Hey! Our population is becoming visually oriented. They love entertainment. Let's give them the gospel via 'morality plays' and 'character studies.'" Sounds familiar.

The reformers answered by instead diving into the heart and soul of the gospel -- the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and how the entire Bible is the story of how / why that occurred. According to the commentators in the podcasts, it was this focus that drove the protestant reformation and truly resulted in changed lives.

I mention this here because I think a big part of discipleship is teaching each other that the stories of Adam, Abraham, Moses, David, Samson, Isaiah, Paul, (insert character here) are all stories that lead to Christ. Seeing this picture, that even our salvation isn't about us, but about him, is what leads people to live differently.

The White Horse Inn commentators talked about Sunday School and why kids find it so boring -- it's teaching "morality," something that kids get every day, from all sorts of sources. Kids can handle complex storylines with lots of text -- look at the popularity of the huge Harry Potter books -- those aren't light reading. We need to be teaching kids, and each other, the awesome story of redemptive history, and getting as caught up in that overarching storyline as we do in Harry Potter.