Saturday, September 08, 2007

A Bunch of "P" Words

St Stephen's Cathedral - Vienna

I am still digesting all the information and feelings I took in recently in my trip to the PGF Conference in Houston. In particular, I have been thinking about the ideas of Michael Frost, and the implications they would have for my life - when I take them seriously.

They are a bunch of words that begin with the letter "P".

I once had someone ask me, "Name the five sermons that changed your life the most.....and now name the five people that changed your life the most." Of course, I could barely thing of one sermon, let alone five. But the people were far easier to name, to remember, and to smile about. Remarkable people, who I am thankful for, to this day.

Simply stated, faith is often best developed largely in community, in connected relationships with other people. Proximity. But this means that our disconnected, self-absorbed lives will need to change. We will need to become people who are invested in the lives of others, where our needs often come second. Turn off the Dish Network, go out for coffee, spend time with a troubled friend. Get involved.

Our lives will need to become marinated in the gospel story, and we will need to discover ways make our stories, and our lives, reflections of this gospel. We will need to become a presence in the midst of where we live, not just another institution. Michael Frost, who is himself an Aussie, once met with a group of
Australian Christian surfers. He asked them, "who is the greatest surfer that ever lived?" The answer was easy, and delivered with massive enthusiam; Kelly Slater. The surfer dudes could go on for long stretches about all the amazing and awesome skills and characteristics of this, the world's greatest surfer.

Then, Michael asked them about the characteristics they admired about Jesus. The same room full of surfers who could go on at length about Kelly Slater were at a comparative loss to come up with superlatives concerning the person of Christ. Lots of mouth breathing, instead. Interesting. Am I like this, as well? Are we, North American Christian People. Do we have more to say about Miss South Carolina, than the person we aim to follow daily? Am I too...well, institutional?

No control, no power, weak. Small. Perhaps we need to demonstrate the
powerlessness of the church. The church in the third world is growing by leaps and bounds in many ways because there, the church has adopted none of the temporal symbols of power that we consider so dear. Buildings, political influence, prestige. None of that.

When the Cultural Revolution resulted in the suppression of the church in China, in 1966, there were about 20 million Christians in China. Today, after years of persecution and hiding, the Chinese church is estimated at 100 million. What happened? Over 25 years of powerlessness for the church.

Imagine the Catholic and Protestant churches in America going broke, simply paying back the people they have hurt; and God knows there has been a lot of hurt on both sides of the Christian isle. Might this not be the best thing that ever happened to the American church? Owning up to our faults, and taking responsibility. Being powerless.

We will need to proclaim with our lives the Good News. Michael Frost tell a story of meeting with a prominent Australian who was involved in business and innovation. He remarked of the Christian church, as he knew it...."you have, in Jesus, a bloody good product, but your current delivery system is screwed". I could not agree more. Our delivery system is screwed.

How can we improve it? By being close to those around us - proximity, presence. By being upside down people that are willing to be powerless. And by being willing to proclaim, in new ways the Good News.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...