Monday, June 27, 2005

So What I Meant to Say

So what I meant to say was that we prayed like crazy. That was the deal.
I mean, we just prayed a bunch, and asked everyone who didn't run to pray for us also.
Yes, we did "by instinct" or divine guidance or whatever do things which we later realized were just the sort of things you would do if you were going in consciously trying to start a mission among an "unreached people group," as the lingo has it. And yes, once we realized that this was what we were doing, I in particular became intentional about casting it in those terms, and in framing the situations we were dealing with and the questions we had and the problems and obstacles we were coming up against in an overtly missiological way.
But really, the way it started, back in 1994-1997 was, we'd go to our Utne Reader salon, come home more or less blown away by the conversation there or some person we had met or something somebody had said privately to us. And we'd just be having a ginger beer at the dining table or half-listening to the BBC on KERA at night, and just pray desperately, fiercely, for something to work with, something to say on Jesus's behalf, some way we wouldn't disgrace the Name or botch a relationship or just in general let God down or betray the tentative hope and trust people were hesitantly placing in us.
We weren't masters of technique.
Fair enough, we weren't stupid about group dynamics, and Dawn was not stupid about the psychology of religion and about the nature of cross-worldview relationships.
But it was, and we were, all about the prayer: with Connie and Mark, with Elizabeth and Barbara, Paul and Chris, and so on. It wasn't about technique.
Even when we did things which have been techniques for many people since, they weren't for us. We didn't see some study that "oh, the kids are really into candles these days" and think, man, we better go get some. Dawn's been burning anything she can find since freshman year of college at least. We didn't meet in Connie's living room because house churches are the ideal strategy, we met there because we didn't have any money. Vince doesn't do Celtic stuff because it's cool, he does it because he's half-Irish.
What's really funny is when some of the things like that that you could describe as techniques, but which were just the organic way things developed for us, come up, if they aren't popular with what's currently hip to describe as a technique, people just act like it isn't there. So the hip thing is multimedia, short sermons. But I've used 45-minute, dialogical talks since like day 2 of Lower Greenville. No one's interested in that. Too Puritan.
To me, the technique addiction in church planting circles is just grim. It's pathetic, in that people who should be asking God what to do and the people they're working with what they want, instead spend all their attention on other Christian leaders, trying to figure out what they're doing. And it's angering / frustrating, because if you can ape the movement of the Spirit, or fake cultural relevancy, that's bad, not good. You don't want to learn the skill of how to pretend you relate to another human being.
I see some native desire on the part of people under 25 to operate outside of that. I hope that grows. Because the idea that there are a few basic missiological or gospel principles, and then you just have to live them out in your situation--too many leaders, "emerging" and otherwise, hear that and then have this expectant look on their faces, like, okay, so, how do I do that? To which my response is, I don't know, I'm not you and I'm not in your situation.
And the notion that, well, you just need to ask God seems to not be good enough for them, either. It's sort of the church starting equivalent of the "I'd rather diet than live healthily" thing vis-a-vis food. "No no no, good physical health and the best look you're capable of can't possibly be about appropriate sleep, a balanced diet with a reasonable caloric intake matched to your metabolism and lifestyle, and regular physical work or exercise. No no no. It must have to do with colonics, and with seaweed--echinacea tea--and--apple--fritter diets." Or something exotic and technical like that.
Um, no. It's about living openly before people as someone who has an invisible Friend. So if I've failed to get the basically prayer-saturated way in which Lower Greenville happened across whether in writing or speaking, I hereby hope this starts making amends.

3 Comments:

Blogger iMonk said...

thanks. needed that.
i was going to call and ask if we could have conversations about relevance over coffee.
i think i'll wait on that one. (grins)

11:03 PM  
Blogger Lorenloo said...

i like 45 dialogical talks. i want more of them in my life. multimedia short sermons=not taking your "audience" very seriously (at least in my experience). to have these little mini-sermons in which nothing is said just makes it seem like what you say you believe in must be pretty uncomplicated and unimportant. having longer talks in which you invite comment, including disagreement, shows that you a) are interested in what people have to say and are not "preaching" and b) what you're talking about is worth your time.

2:18 AM  
Blogger scott said...

thanks mark

10:29 AM  

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