open source teaching on spiritual accompaniment, take II
i posted the picture above not only because i am proud of my beautiful wife, but because we have recently become convinced that bearing children is the best way to grow God’s Kingdom. when a man decides to grow the Kingdom of God through procreation he can be assured that his seed will not spoil upon rocky soil and, unless his wife is thwarting God’s providence with pharmacological elements, the devil will not snatch the seed away. before you quibble with these assertions the pixie and i would encourage you to read a full quiver: family planning and the lordship of christ. now, onto our conversation about converts who do not spring forth, fully-formed from our loins.*
what i’m reading
theology of the community God, by stanley grenz. simkins’ comment in the last thread encouraged me to read grenz’s discussion of “outreach” which is found on pages 501-510 of this impressive tome. b already summarized grenz’s argument, so i won’t bore you by doing so again. however, i will say that his understanding of outreach as including proclamation and presence, focusing on disciple-making and utilizing the subversive power of prayer is a helpful matrix that will likely inform my consideration of spiritual accompaniment.
hannah coulter by wendell berry. i just finished this story last night and i must say that was overwhelmed by it. the picture of the port William “membership,” which is a group of extended family and friends who work together, support and serve one another (and i would say “worship together” if that would not leave you with an emaciated image of these people who fully understand that worship is more intimately connected to work, suffering and service than it is to what pew or perfectly padded, individual, theater quality chair you sit in, what songs you like to sing and what elements are included or excluded from worship) is absolutely startling. hannah’s story is not simply a sentimental rendition of “blessed be the tie that binds” but is a simple, yet elegant consideration of both the passions, commitments and tasks that connect us to one another and the opportunity each of us have to enter into the eternal even in the midst our ordinary lives. my words could never do the story justice. just read it.**
mere discipleship by lee camp. i’ve read this helpful, yoder-influenced, introduction to discipleship before, so i thought i’d see what he had to say about “evangelism.” camp’s small chapter on evangelism is an excellent example of what grenz terms “evangelism as presence.”
what I’m thinking
after reading berry, i cannot help but wonder how a sense of place informs and influences our willingness and ability to introduce others to and invite them to follow the way of Jesus. i have long thought that place is an essential element of one’s vocation and, reflecting on my occupational life, such a statement does not seem without merit. for instance, when i was slogging through days at sentimental somethings i found myself speaking words that were not meant to foster life,*** entering into meaningless office conflicts and flat-out gossiping much more than i found myself musing about the Kingdom of God and modeling the way of Jesus. at the ss as well as at lightway i regularly felt guilty about fostering a culture of death instead of one of life, but i never found a way to genuinely follow Jesus in those environs. fortunately, at rectangle, my new employer, my work (largely) consists of empowering others and creating a context in which people with challenges can focus on ability instead of disability. unsurprisingly, i can already tell that interpersonal fault lines and unnecessary gossip exists at my new employer, but, so long as i focus on being an incarnation of compassion and reconciliation i believe that i will be able to introduce more life than death into our community.
and, speaking of rectangle, i had an interesting conversation with a couple of employees after work in an off-site location.**** after one of my fellow employees asked me a question concerning the layout of his office and a second employee teasingly promised me that i could listen to wow worship tunes any time i wanted on her xm radio a third employee spoke a bit about the sectarian religious environment he once worked in where volunteers were apparently required to reveal what translation of the Bible they utilized before serving soup. the mere mention of conservative christianity in the conversation led someone else to bring up the deplorable, manic ravings of pat robertson and jerry falwell. this led another co-worker to say that “people like that is the reason i don’t have anything to do with christianity,” and, before i knew it, i responded by saying “anytime you hear someone using the teachings of Jesus or the church as a platform for power, run away from them, for you can be sure that the gospel of Christ is not one of power but of love.”***** in years past, i might have been slow to denounce robertson, falwell, dobbie and the like, for “whether by false motives or true the gospel is being preached!” but now i’m not so sure that such proclamations of power have much to do with the gospel. moreover, if the such political and social rants do produce conversions, i fear that the new followers will likely be deformed if not still-born. as i left the conversation i promised my co-workers that they wouldn’t have to worry about me seeking to proselytize them anytime soon and i immediately began to wonder what that promise said about my ever-evolving understanding of following Jesus.
i’m makin’ me some super bowl queso tonight. that’ll be mm, mmm, good, bitch!
what do you think
what do you think about my promise not to “proselytize” my rectangle co-workers? do you find such a promise unwise? could you make a similar promise?
do you think that place really does have a significant effect on vocation? how does your sense of place effect your attempts to follow Jesus (assuming, of course, that you do so)? do you think that the contemporary church suffers from regularly elevating non-local men and women to leadership? could the contemporary church’s reliance upon non-local leadership be related to the current focus upon imported evangelistic programs such as the purpose-driven church?
are there any additional books that you would recommend as i continue to prepare for the “spiritual accompaniment” discussion i am going to facilitate next week?
can you forgive me for being so loquacious? thank you for reading.
* i trust that none of you took this seriously. i do not believe any of the assertions posted above, but i could not help myself.
** a tip o’ the hat to rick for turning me on to berry’s work. i think i’m going to read nathan coulter next before diving into berry’s his essays and, perhaps, his poems.
*** such phrases were expected and accepted in this workplace, fortunately. though i did ultimately realize that terms like (f _ _ _ i _ _ d _ _ c _ _ b_ g) were a bit too much. don’t you just love hangman?
**** take note, potential censors!
***** of course, i probably wasn’t quite so eloquent, but that’s the power of editing for you.