20 August 2005

Opening doors?

Well, there’s lots going on in my ministry life right now. I hesitate to write too much about it here, because much is in flux and I don’t want to prejudge outcomes. In the last post I shared some of my thoughts regarding my church’s renewed focus on evangelism. Another Big Deal in my life is that my rector, Fr. Rick, is interested in working (with a small team that’s beginning to form, including me) on what we hesitate to call an “alternative worship service”, but which will be along the lines of Emerging Church gatherings: Experiential, Participatory, Image-based, and Connective. I’m really unspeakably excited about this. I’ll reprint here a paragraph I recently e-mailed to a friend that speaks to my passion for both of these new efforts:

“The single thing that I am most excited and passionate about right now is seeking and trying out answers to the following question: How can we make the faith of Jesus Christ relevant to emerging generations, who are often postmodern in outlook and post-Christian in upbringing? (This population includes many of my close friends, and included me as recently as three years ago.) I think exciting answers to this question are being explored by the Missional Church and Emerging Church movements, as well as the rich traditions of Anglicanism and other forms of Christianity. Many days, after reading a book or having a stimulating conversation or prayer session on these topics, I feel like my heart is ready to burst with a sense of mission and of work God has given me to do.”

To my non-Christian friends who read this blog: do not fear. I come in peace. I have no intention of trying to sell Christianity to you whenever we connect. On the other hand, I do know that for many of you being active in a church seems to make about as much sense as joining the circus. Sure, some folks may find it rewarding, but what could it possibly have to do with me?? What I’m interested in is coming up with better answers to that question, for those who might be asking it with some openness to the idea that the answer may not be the obvious “nothing”. These days, it’s easy to conclude that the church is all about closed-mindedness, bigotry, and exclusion on the one hand, empty irrelevance and dry rehashing of tradition on the other hand, and an unhealthy dose of divisiveness, defensiveness, and self-absorption all around. None of that is what Jesus or the first disciples had in mind. There are other alternatives. More than anything, I want to play some part in making those alternatives real and visible.

I’ll make one further admission: I really think this is what I’m supposed to do with the rest of my life. Less doctoring computers so they connect the American consumer with his destined advert, more doctoring churches so they connect the American seeker with her fellow humans, with the world, and with God. (Though I’ll probably be doing both, for who knows how long, to pay the bills.)

I’m not necessarily talking about ordained ministry, though I haven’t ruled it out. Nor have I ruled out teaching hang gliding to Asian tourists in the more crocodile-infested parts of Australia, if that’s what God wants me to do. (Please note: If You find that image amusing, as I rather suspect You do, You’d better be prepared to reveal some heretofore completely unsuspected spiritual and natural gifts, Buster.) In any case, one way or another, I want ministry to be a much bigger part of what I devote my time and talent to, so I pray that if that’s God’s will too, God will point the way to make it so. Amen.

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