Tuesday, January 22, 2008


in the midst of the forgotten ways alan hirsch argues that the church would be more effective at developing committed disciples and transformational leaders if christians encouraged one another to "act our way into a new way of thinking" rather than trying to "think our way into a new way of acting."*

as one who has long tried, and often failed, to think my way into a new way of acting, i found hirsch's suggestion intriguing. i have long thought that i learned more about pastoral ministry by serving the core members of l'arche and have connected with God much more naturally when i have intentionally entered into silence and set aside the prefabricated, a.c.t.s.** model of prayer.

if christian leaders were to follow hirsch's suggestion by seeking to shape Christ followers more in the context of action than a context of abstraction,*** we would need to constantly encourage experiences, practices and settings that would empower young believers who are seeking to effectively love God, love people and contribute to their communities.

so i'm wondering, what experiences, practices and/or settings have helped you learn how to love God and/or other people more passionately and proficiently?****

please take a moment to help this brother out. if i'm ever going to exchange a ministry of abstraction for one of applied wisdom, i'm going to need your help!

* emphasis his. pg. 122.
** for the (fortunately) uninitiated, a.c.t.s. is an acrostic that reminds young prayer warriors to adore God, confess sin, thank God before inserting one's supplications into God's sanctified in-bow.
*** read: classroom.
**** please note: i do not for one moment think that Christ followers have cornered the market on love. people of all, and no, religions are more than welcome to contribute to the conversation.


g13 said...

okay, i asked the question, so i'll venture forth one answer.

in the mid-90s, when i was a no-nothing youth ministry intern at an up-and-coming mega-church i realized that the most effective "small group" the church had was the group of individuals who got up early on sunday morning to set up the church for service, serve (utterly horrible) coffee throughout the morning and tear down everything after. this group did not have a formal bible study each week and were not bound by a prayer chain or anything, but as the year went by they clearly learned to love one another more passionately - even in all of their significant differences - and they seemed to be benefiting greatly from the church even though they were able to attend service only rarely.

based on this experience, you would have thought that when i had another opportunity to attend another megachurch i would establish a group of people who were bound together by service and shared purpose rather than a start yet another small group bible study. of course, i did the latter, and though the group was healthier than most groups i've been a part of before or since, i cannot help but think that the young christians in my group would have learned more from serving even the most basic needs of those within and without the church community than they learned from passively tolerating my attempts to explicate romans and so turn them on to john calvin.

it seems to me, if we are to take hirsch's suggestion seriously, we should seek to explicate and apply scripture in the midst of service rather than in the midst of a warmly lit living room.

kristi.bennett said...

i see that your comment relates to not meeting in a "warmly lit living room" and getting out into the community and really serving people.

for me, being a mother of 3 and working all the time, i find that the biggest "spark" i see in my life spiritually happens when we DO have people over in our living room. however, we aren't sitting around "thinking about how to act." we have been doing this in varying degrees for the past 4 years (since leaving boston) to connect with people on a relational level--people who are hurting, who have no church home, who need real conversations with someone. and of course, you know me, and i can be nothing if not completely honest--to my detriment so much of the time!

i feel pulled at times to go out into the community and "serve" at the local homeless ministry, or i worry about not doing enough (or anything?) to serve the downtrodden in our midst, and i hope i'm not hiding behind "hospitality" as some easy way out of following Jesus. i do feel like when people come into our home for food, real-life conversation, prayer--that's when i really feel my faith propelled forward.

g13 said...

kristi - my gift for overgeneralization asserts itself again:) i didn't intend to critique such gatherings in general, just those - such as the small group gathering that i mentioned - that tend to encourage missional inertia. i've had the priviledge of attending a number of those meetings in your homes and i miss them greatly.

much love.