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Gettin' missional

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01:58 AM ET (US)
It is true that Jesus sat, ate and drank with people who were considered to be untouchables but the purpose was to touch those very lives during their time of meeting. Such a meeting should bring around, sooner or later, a change in attitude and lifestyle.
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
11:18 PM ET (US)
Guardian, I think what Meader observes is true. From what I see of Jesus in the Gospels, his inclusion of people from diverse backgrounds which were not regarded as socially acceptable should become indicative of how `wide' our inclusiveness should be in today's situation.
Jesus ate, drank, sat with, and most importantly, included a great many in his own highly-religious society who were ostracised and outlawed as `unclean' either ritually, or culturally, for a whole host of moral/legal reasons within Jewish society, and accepted those people into the depths of his faith community. It is evident some of those `came out' as tax collectors, zealots, drunks, prostitutes, thieves and various assorted other backgrounds, but were embraced with true love as full members and followers of the Way. Had there been LGBTI people among those, I am fairly confident, Jesus would have been just as accepting and inclusive of those people as he was toward the others. People may disagree with me, but that's they way I see it. Jesus' welcome is far more open-armed and hugging inwards than it is exclusive and ejecting. Jesus saw, and sees people as people - people who need to be loved, and not condemned, irrespective of their cultural background.
I personally know a number of wonderful Christian men and women who are both artistic and LGBTI, and I have often found them to be better practitioners of Jesus-type grace in practical life than the people who hate and reject them often without knowing anyone from an LGBTI background.
Whether liberal or fundamentalist in background, Jesus' command to love is the bottom line fundamental principle that should over-ride any bias in one way or the other. Love, mercy and compassion is Jesus' bottom line, time and time again in the Gospels - not the letter of the law. Glad you posted Guardian.
Edited 10-05-2015 11:21 PM
10:39 PM ET (US)
Lindsay Meader is the chaplain at the Apollo Theatre (where the roof collapsed) and Rector of St James Church in Piccadilly, a church with a large LGBT membership. Meader is fascinated by the contrasting experiences of people who are gay and religious with those who are religious and theatrical. "It is much harder to come out as Christian in the theatre than to come out as being gay," Meader says.
11:31 PM ET (US)
"The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in a man who is fully and wholly committed to Him". Evangelist Henry Varley to Dwight L. Moody, in Britain in 1872.
11:42 PM ET (US)
Do the pastors of global city and suburban churches even understand the phrases: urban mission; creative evangelism? Or are they too busy building a career and achieving numerical success within their own definition of Gospel?
Deleted by topic administrator 02-23-2016 01:55 AM
Andrew D Park
02:37 AM ET (US)
Not a member of CDFA, but a longstanding friend of it, as well as a person friend of Lucy's and mine. He was once asked to lead a conference, which he planned to do, but couldn't due to a medical emergency. He also played a small part in Lucy and I meeting up before we got married.
Deleted by topic administrator 02-23-2016 01:55 AM
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
12:04 AM ET (US)
Decided I would restart this topic with something personal, include an Easter reflection and then make some leading comments.

In my early youth I occasionally experienced delusions of grandeur when I thought of myself `being missional’. I recall one time when, after hearing my favourite preacher, John Smith of God’s Squad CMC (Christian Motorcycle Club), that my friend I was praying with said to me: “You sounded just like Smithy spoke, when you prayed the words you just prayed”. Meaning, I just imitated a major faith hero, by copying him with my own idiom, emphases, words and noises, and my mate had just picked that up from me. How embarrassing was that?

It is so easy to try to be copies of someone else we deeply admire and respect, who we consider to represent our own want for spiritual presence and fulfilment, instead of just becoming our real selves as Christ created us to be.

Jesus Christ didn’t call me to be John Smith. He saved me to be Andrew Park – to become the real and the best Andrew Park Jesus created me to be. Not someone else, however admirable that person might be.

My doing that was nowhere all that unique. People imitate others all the time in this life. And it is not always so wrong. The Bible tells us to be imitators of Christ. But that doesn’t mean we actually become Christ and lose ourselves into the bargain of trying to do so. Our imaginations sometimes get the better of us in how we see ourselves in relation to the others.
I could no more channel John Smith then I could channel Jesus Christ. And God didn’t call me to channel either.
When we speak for Christ, we speak out that as ourselves, and not as if we are channelling Christ or God.

“Christ In us is the hope of glory”. Not Christ `Is' us is the hope of glory.
We are `vessels’ of the Holy Spirit. Not we `are’ the Holy Spirit.

And that applies to speaking out prophesies, words of knowledge or similar incantations, however dramatically or passionately we perform those tasks. God speaks for God, and Jesus speaks for Himself as Christ, quite sufficiently enough, and we can never become adequate replacements for God and Christ in speaking as if we are somehow microphones for either.

Yes. We can speak for, or on behalf of God. And God does speak to us in many ways, such as through Scripture and in the whispers of the still, quite inner voice of the Holy Spirit to our own spirits and hearts during prayer. But when we do speak for Christ, we speak from ourselves interpreting theologically and from the Scriptures, and not as some sort of `little god’ or `god’s as some modern day preachers and prophets seem to depict they are in their delusions about what they are and who they are in performing their `miracle, signs and wonders’ manifestations at countless religious revivals occurring over the Western World today in bizarre exhibitions Christendom power and glory.

Christ does not need to be `revived’ for us. The resurrection already achieved that once and for all time. We just celebrated it this Easter. There is no `bringing back the king' or ways we can cause God to manifest the divine self more by what we can do. Christ is already here! Christ's Presence is already manifest among us - in the bread and the wine we regularly celebrate that in faith. Christ just needs to be acknowledged by us, and bowed to in our hearts as our Lord. If God seems far away - guess who moved? Christ is already Risen and HERE. Christ is Lord. Christ’s reign has already begun. Christ’s kingdom is in-breaking around us. We just need to acknowledge Christ and what Christ is doing to accomplish the Missio Dei (God’s Mission) and to cooperate and partner with Christ wherever we can, in which ever small ways Christ calls us to participate in fulfilling that mission vision.

We do that as Ambassadors of Christ, not as replacements for Christ, and inspired by the Holy Spirit Presence of Christ `with’ and `in’ us.

Jesus Christ has provided us with all the necessary tools and resources we need in order to function as his Ambassadors and missionaries, to go into the world preaching the Gospel and making disciples of all nations. The locus of that work is typically focused on ministry within our own neighbourhoods and families, and sometimes more widely abroad. Missionary service to our own neighbourhoods and families should not be interpreted as some sort of “lesser status” version below that of going overseas. In fact, I personally think the former should be of higher priority for the vast majority than the latter type of missionary service because it `brings home’ a lot more mission possibilities for us than we often come to realize.

Mission service includes evangelism, but evangelism is not the “total sum” of mission. If we only regard evangelism as that, we are actually truncating what mission really meant to the early Church in the Biblical text.

If we want to `be like Christ’ to the world around us, we need to `do like Christ’ by following Him and doing the kinds of things Jesus did to spiritually form him as the minister he became to be. So I am talking about wholeheartedly adopting ourselves the kinds of spiritual disciplines we observe Jesus practising throughout the Gospels. The early Church took those spiritual disciplines very seriously. And that was why they thrived during those early few centuries from Acts to the reign of Constantine. The words “following” and “the Way” were very significant in the life of that early Church in its understanding of its mission.

In your dance, you just need to become the best you that Christ made you to be. You’ll never be Dame Margot Fontaine or Ginger Rogers, but you will always be you. When Christ breathed life into you and placed dance into you, he didn’t do that to make you into a clone of Fontaine or Rogers, but to be YOU. God’s vision for you was to become the best you that you could be. And the journey of becoming that best you involves embracing many challenges and disciplines in order to reach your goals. Like Paul, there is a race to run, and lots of pre-race exercise and disciplines needed beforehand to prepare yourself for that race along the Way to be the best ambassadors and “letters from Christ” to others as `sent’ people promoting and declaring Christ’s kingdom reign as a people in whose love for their neighbours and enemies others see Christ’s Living Presence embodied through their good deeds of compassion and mercy toward others.
Edited 04-07-2015 06:01 AM
  Messages 11-10 deleted by author 02-23-2016 01:55 AM
Andrew D ParkPerson was signed in when posted
12:02 AM ET (US)
Thought I'd add a link to this article by Matt Stone about Missional Spirituality.
And also cut and paste what he said here as well:
August 11, 2014

"Last weekend I finally got to meet Karina Kreminski in the flesh, fully incarnate you might say, and it has prompted me to lay out where some of my own thinking on Missional Spirituality has led me (given that Missional Spirituality is the focus of the doctorate she is working on). I think its a hugely important topic that I'd like to see more and more people collaborating on it. This is a rough draft only and no doubt there are gaps, so think of it as a conversation starter, nothing more.

"The religious ambivalence of the average Australian
•The religious stance of many Australians could be described as ambivalent
•Confronted with so many religious choices they have chosen not to choose
•Given this, even Atheism has limited appeal, as this too requires too much conviction
•What results is a consumerist, a la carte approach to ir/religion, where the customer is always right and the only wrong is to have your choices arbitrarily limited by others
•Many of these Australians have a residual Christian identity, but an increasing number don’t
•But either way it is clear that Christ is not central to their path but peripheral at best

"The religious intensity of the cultural influencers
•Religious ambivalence is not always shared by cultural influencers
•On the contrary, many on the cutting edge of culture tend to be much more ir/religiously intense - whether we are talking of Atheists or Christians, Muslims or Wiccans
•It is instructive to compare religious adoption curves to technological adoption curves, where innovators and earlier adopters, while fewer in number than the early and late majority, have disproportionate influence
•In short, innovative religious minorities should not be ignored by misisonal Christians but, on the contrary, recognized as potential bellwethers for cultural change in Australia and beyond

"The call for a more Missional Spirituality
•One thing which is common to both the ambivalent majority and (militant Atheists aside) many elements of the innovative minority is an increased emphasis on spirituality.
•It can be argued, however, that neither the Missional Movement nor the Charistmatic movement have bequeathed Australian Christians with a fully fleshed Missional spirituality
•The attention of the Missional movement tends to be focussed far more on Church contextualization (ecclesiology) than contextual Spirituality (pneumatology).
•The attention of the Charismatic movement, while focussed firmly on Spirituality (pneumatology), tends to have a “Temple focus” rather than an “Exile” focus, with a tendency to demonize religious others without trying to understand (e.g. when I suggest to Charismatics that they should not just pray “for” Wiccans at a distance but pray “with” them in the midst of their lives the conversation often ends in stunned silence).
•What we need more of is a Spirituality that is “in the world, but not of the world”.
•We need to explore how the spirituality of religious innovators and the religiously ambivalent may serve as alters to the Unknown God (Acts 17), through which we can share our own understanding of the Spirit of God as revealed to us through the Messiah.
•Contextual communication may extend to reworking imported spiritual concepts such as “chi”, “qi”, “energy” and “prana” in more Christ centred and Christ honouring ways to aid mutual understanding (and dare I say it, mutual transformation).
•This implies moving considerably beyond the Celtic revivalism of the NeoMonastic movement, particularly when ministering amongst non-Anglo and globalized-Anglo Australians, though in a complementary manner"
- See more at:
Edited 04-07-2015 06:02 AM
Deleted by topic administrator 02-23-2016 01:55 AM
Noel Buchanan
09:13 PM ET (US)
I will take this opportunity to invite missional dance participants to watch the Costume and Context forum discussion where I have asked for assistance and prayer from fellow designers of faith. God delivered starting in August 2012 a strong mainstream ballet concept with powerful prophetic content. The ballet is not an average church production. It is aimed at the nation in this generation and time! The music and envisaged dance content will be very compelling and beautiful. To get you praying please read Isaiah 56: verses 6 to 12 inclusive and allow the Holy Spirit to identify phrases and specific word content. Read Matthew 24 and 25 and keep an eye on current events, political action and incidents involving Australia. I have a senior newspaper background in Canada and Australia and have never before experienced such a complex, challenging and life-breathing project in this lifetime. Ballet peppered with prophecy that requires the intentional collaboration of at least two large and well-resourced professional companies to perform.
Andrew Park
04:07 AM ET (US)
I think the power of story is quite important to what we are communicating through dance - particularly if it is our personal story, or something we are passionate about.

In relation to your question, if we want people to be encouraged to navigate and cross over liminal thresholds in faith - to grow, mature, be transformed - questions posed may well be important to that process.

Clever usage of metaphors, parables, symbols conveying both in specific and multiple meanings, collaborative art forms such are dance/poetry, dance/film, type of music scores mixed with dance, deliberate pause moments, suitable stage props can all be used to help people imagine, dream, and question and journey theologically.

We want people to engage into our journey, but also to be challenged and stretched further in their own journey both individually and in community with the others.

Eugene Peterson talks about the concept of "inscape", during which a painter will use "oils and canvas to bring into visibility what left to ourselves we might never notice [drawing] our attention to the way shape and form affect our awareness. Poets arrange metaphors and similes, vowels and consonants and alert us to meaning and significance...create participation and responsiveness to what we do not have words for. Artists make us insiders to the complexity and beauty of what we deal with everyday but so often miss. They bring our attention what is right before our eyes, within reach of our touch, help us hear sounds and combinations of sounds that our noise-deafened ears have never heard" (Practise Resurrection: A Conversation On Growing Up In Christ, 2010, Eerdmans, Colorado Springs, p.138-139).

In dance, we aim to do that through physical movement, imagery, and language which engages people into a new story - the story we are telling with all its complexities, simplicities, reimagining, beauty with all questions it may provoke alongside that.

In terms of effective mission, we are telling a counter-story and script to the one being offered them through the secular world. That may well be a hope as yet unseen, and not being yet perceived, but one "to be grasped" through the posing of suitable questions through artistically-devised metaphors, movements and images.

"Inscape means that there is a lot more to church [life and ourselves] than we can see, hear or read" (Ibid, p.141). That is until some artist creatively reveals that to us in a brand new way, which will probably be through alerting our questioning minds to it about the new God-sent possibilities and alternatives in relation to what God may be speaking through the art work to us and others personally and corporately.

If as St Anslem said, "theology is faith seeking greater understanding". And in all that if theology is discovering more closely where God is, and bringing meaning into our lives by how that growing understanding informs us, it isn't going to happen unless we are encouraged to ask questions - and sometimes questions which may seem provocative and confronting to us that are proposed through good and thoughtful art.

Jesus loved questions. That's why he taught in quite artful parables, which didn't give all the answers, but opened up the listener's imaginations - often quite challengingly to the existing status quo thinking - to alternative possibilities, and loads of open questions about where they were going in life, and where they could alternatively head in life if they followed Him. Those teaching activated their imaginations toward a better Way. What did he use as props? The things his listeners encountered in their day-to-day life, but which they had not seen with the same significance which Jesus made of them - mustard seeds; seeds of faith sown in sand, rocks, weeds and good soil; fishes etc. He also reinterpreted familiar concepts e.g. "Moses said this, but I say this...Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you", which inevitably were thought provocative, culturally challenging, stretched people and deliberately caused them to question the existing status quo of things and to see new emerging truths to "set them free" and to imagine things in new ways resulting in hope-generating transformation.

I think dance can, and often should do the same. We are encouraging people missionally to engage meaningfully with God's vision for their future, which stands as a countercultural alternative to what a world without faith, hope in Christ scripts for them. Inevitably that raises questions.
Edited 05-01-2014 04:18 AM
Sharon EreauxPerson was signed in when posted
08:02 PM ET (US)
I hope that in dance and creative movement, I can transmit hope, joy and freedom. That's the work of Christ as well as love and life and all good things.
I'm always dancing and moving my testimony in as much as I have felt and lived and truly known what it is that I dance. And the power of testimony is enormous.
If I dance what comes out of my very core, then I'm dancing my truth, whether it's victorious testimony or searching-questions.
I have a question. Do you think it's helpful for others if we dance our questions as well as our testimony? Perhaps that would be like some of the Psalms in a way. Questions are posed, though the answer is always to remember God and who He is to us. Perhaps a good dance always has a question in it.
Joylene Smith
04:47 PM ET (US)
Greetings Fellow worshipers from South Africa-Cape Town, Stellenbosch!
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