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The need for missional transformation…

March 20, 2008

images.jpgThe notes from the 2008 State of the Conference Address given by LMC moderator Keith Weaver include this summary of the findings reported in unChristian:  What the New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity…and Why it Matters–Kinnaman, David & Lyons, Gabe (2007) Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker.  See interview with David Kinnaman here

What Kinnaman and Lyons learned is that young people have a very low opinion of Christians.  They perceive us to be hypocrites who don’t practice what we preach, boring, unintelligent, old-fashioned, out of touch with reality, preoccupied with a right-wing political agenda, prideful and quick to find faults in others.

By any measure a bleak (although I believe fair) assessment.  Yet there is hope.  If we are willing to allow the reductions of Gospel–the “Gospel” packaged for the autonomous individualism deeply embedded in our Western cultural narrative–to die.  There is hope if we are willing to dismantle the ecclesial narratives that cater to individuals as consumer.  There is hope if we are willing to allow the Gospel to shape our communal life.  There is hope if we are willing to enter the Community of the Spirit–the Trinitarian reality that is eternal in the communion of saints. 

There is hope if we are willing to let the Event of Incarnation, Cross and Resurrection–Gospel–reshape and transform the small narratives that guide our lives…our ideas of church.  There is hope if we will live as communities of resistence–challenging the ways in which the powers of the age seek to coopt the Gospel and make it palatable to the enlightened, liberated Self. 

There is hope if we are willing to live as a people on the way–not as those who have arrived.  There is hope if we are willing to trust the coming of the Kingdom–not to epic acts of “redemptive violence,”  but to epic expressions of sacrificial love.  This is the way of Jesus.  This is the way that many postmodern agnostics are intuitively seeking. 

As we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus, may we be drawn deeper into the narrative that offers hope for the human condition.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 20, 2008 4:18 pm

    What are some ways, in your own anabaptist tradition, that we can practice this sacrifical love? What are some ways that you practice it?

  2. just an apprentice permalink
    March 20, 2008 5:12 pm

    Coldfire,

    Ways we can practice sacrificial love:

    taking care of widows, orphans and single moms (Bridge of Hope)

    showing hospitality and welcoming the stranger–refugee support team

    living simply…so others can simply live

    orienting our lives around the community of Christ (this is both local and through time and space) and the mission of God

    seeking to uncover the reality of the risen Christ in our midst–loving neighbors and enemies, rejecting the myth of redemptive violence, embracing the cross (Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Disaster Service)

    I am trying to live in this direction. I am seeking to do so in community with others who are seeking Jesus and his Kingdom at Sunnyside Mennonite Church.

    I am convinced that the practice of hospitality–making room for the other is a central expression of the Gospel. As such, I am seeking to grow in this.

  3. just an apprentice permalink
    March 20, 2008 6:56 pm

    Coldfire,
    You asked me how I practice sacrificial love. I attempt to do this in my day to day relationships–family, friends, community.

    I do live among a community of friends who uncover the love of Jesus in some amazing ways. I have seen a family take in an ex-con providing a roof, warm meals and other support in an attempt to help guide his steps in the right direction. I have friends who open up their home to provide foster care. I have friends who open up their home and give of their time to help re-settle a refugee family. Others have volunteered their time to help in the clean-up effort after Hurricane Katrina. Some make comforters or gather the supplies for a relief kit.

    I have a friend who has served with Christian Peacemaker Teams in areas of conflict–Colombia, the U.S. border. In the broader Anabaptist community some have served with CPT in Iraq.

    These are some specific examples of ways my immediate community and the broader Mennonite community is seeking to live in the way of Jesus.

    Of course the way of Jesus that is uncovered in the gathered community is deeper than an ethic of love and non-violence. The holy mystery of being the body of Christ is also uncovered as we gather for worship, as we center ourselves in the Biblical narrative, as we receive the Eucharist.

  4. coldfire136 permalink
    March 20, 2008 10:03 pm

    I am glad to hear that you are being used by Jesus Christ.

    What is “bridge of hope?” Is that an organization?

  5. just an apprentice permalink
    March 21, 2008 7:53 am

    Coldfire,
    Bridge of Hope is an organization that connects single moms with Christian communities so as to help provide a support network as they attempt to meet the challenges in front of them.

    What does missional transformation look like in your context? How are you a part of a community that is making visible the way of Jesus?

    Brian

  6. March 25, 2008 8:16 am

    As I re-read this, you have packed a lot into your prescription for a hopeful Church. What I appreciate about your post is that you have refrained from the cliche’s that Kinnaman reminds us we need to let go of in order for our words to be understood . . . words that are sincere, express true desire and are non-exclusionary. These are words of vision.

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