Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
PS- There's an ancient quote from the Kildare Papers posted there which says, "Always remember three things, 'Whence you came, who you are and where you are going.' " Great quote!
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
In Scott McKnight's 'Missional Mondays' post this week he shares some insights that are particularly helpful from pastor and author Dr. Tim Keller from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. He shares Keller's "key characteristics of missional churches who've made the ecclesiological shift" from his article 'The Missional Church':
1. Discourse in the vernacular: Missional churches avoid tribal language, we-them language, talking as though non-believers weren't present in our churches. We must learn to discourse in the local vernacular's our churches are situated within
2. Enter and re-tell the culture's stories with the gospel: Missional churches enter into their culture by showing sympathy toward and deep acquaintance with the artifacts of the culture (music, art, literature, food, etc.) acknowledging the goodness of culture because of common grace and the image of God in all humanity; missional churches are able to re-tell their cultures stories in light of the biblical story which shows us how in Christ we can have freedom without slavery, embracing the 'other' without injustice.
3. Theologically train lay people for public life and vocation: Missional churches train everyone to 'think Christianly' about everything and work with distinctive's shaped by the biblical story; people are encouraged to renew and transform culture through a theology of work; and to become culture-makers; missional churches encourage people to demonstrate love and 'tolerance' in the public square, under cutting intolerance as a common defeater of the gospel in the Post-Christian West.
4. Create Christian community which is counter-cultural and counter-intuitive: Missional churches seek to empower and equip the body to show the surrounding culture how radically different a Christian society is with regard to sex, money, and power; and missional churches practice holistic mission because the world is a holistic mess because of sin and God has provided a holistic answer in Christ; they do this through word and deed, through the proclamation and presence of the Kingdom of God.
How does this all dovetail with the Arts? Well, as per Tim's first point, the Arts ARE the vernacular of any culture. It seems to me that it's a matter of art imitating life and life then, in turn, life imitating art. It's a strange cycle, but true for the masses. So, if we are to be masters of our craft - whatever the field or medium may be - we have an opportunity to become more conversant in the vernacular or the 'everyday language' of the places, spaces and networks in which we live, move and have our being by listening. No one who has yet to develop the art of listening will have anything really valuable to contribute to a conversation, much less someone's life. Learn to listen, then, by God's empowering Spirit, offer what He has already given you ("What is in your hand?" He said to Moses) in a 'language' that those around you speak.
The second point Dr. Tim Keller makes about entering and retelling the culture's stories is one that should come somewhat naturally to someone with a gifting and vocation in the Arts. It doesn't really matter what your discipline is, every area of specialty in the Arts is essentially about narrative. Through your medium you're telling a story. Even if you deny your work communicates a story, the work itself carries it's own story within it - how it came to be and what brought it 'to life'. If we are to really move people, learning and re-telling stories that they either face daily, or that are embedded deep within their psyche, is a core practice. We, as artists, can employ our general vocation as 'prophets' in society to share Truth - especially when we reinterpret and present anew stories that people thought they already knew and understood. We can enable someone to see life from a different perspective or angle. Speaking Christianly, this conversion to Truth, is akin to the role C.S. Lewis believed the Arts fulfilled . . being pre-evangelistic in nature.
What other thoughts do you have on Tim Keller's points three and four regarding the role of the Arts and the 'Creative' in culture?
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
"Some of you know that, a few months ago, I spent three weeks in the UK, exploring the Church of England’s “Fresh Expressions” movement. It felt like I barely scratched the surface in my explorations! I met so many wonderful people – sat in on challenging and inspiring conversations – I mean, overall it was more than I ever expected from this visit. I was welcomed by gracious hosts in Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield, London,Devon and various stops along the way. I went there with one question on the tip of my tongue – everywhere I went. I asked that same question in pretty much the same way, each time. It went something like this . . .
“If you knew twenty years ago what you know today about the impact of secularization on the relationship of Culture to Church and vice versa, what might you have done differently to prepare the institution for those emerging realities, back then?” I asked this seemingly rhetorical question of nearly seventy people there in the Church of England. Some lay folks, a scattering of bishops and a whole lot of active clergy agreed to talk “for the record.” I filled a notebook with their responses – it was marvelous! There were a few who objected to the question and a few more who cautioned me against asking such a question from Church leaders engaged with a very different culture.
Nonetheless, I’ve been carrying that notebook around with me for the last three months, reading and rereading the responses. A few weeks ago, I began sorting what I’d written into major themes – sort of categories of answers. It was no surprise that the most powerful answers I encountered centered around the following paraphrased response:
'Twenty years ago, we were actively pushing our young people out the doors of our churches and Dioceses. We didn’t mean to – it’s just that we wouldn’t make room for them in our activities; we didn’t include their voices in our public conversations; we didn’t ask them for stories of their encounters with the good news of God as known in Jesus Christ. As a result, we lost them. They went elsewhere to find expression for their gifts. Today, there is little likelihood of attracting them back into our Church. In their absence, we lost sight of the huge gap growing between the insider language of the Church and the realities of the Culture we are called to serve. Now that’s a huge loss, but it’s not the biggest loss we’ve experienced, subsequently.
The greater loss is that we forgot how to nurture the prophetic voice in our midst. We’ve forgotten how to foster new young leaders in nurturing and mutually-shaping communities. Today, we are working on bringing new young leaders into our churches but that’s not the same as nurturing the prophetic voice in community – training new leaders to cultivate community with a hoe instead of directing with the Verger’s mace. That takes time to develop! It’s an art of “being in community” that very few have ever experienced, nonetheless mastered.
So, (several of them concurred) if we could go back – if you could learn from us – we would encourage you to take action now; do not wait until you have it figured out. Invite faith-filled young leaders into your communities. Listen. Try on new ideas. Experiment. Be willing to fail – often and early. “Fail away” until patterns of meaning start to emerge from your communities in discernment. Listen for the Fresh Expressions of the Spirit in their sometimes awkward and clumsy offerings. Especially listen and observe the way they use ritual and music to make sense of the insanity of our lives.'
(I’ll stop there – I think the point is clear!)"