Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Thoughts on Culture, Education, and Faith
I am reading Center Church by Timothy Keller right now. I am probably doing more learning about faith from him as an author right now than I have from any Christian author in a long time.
Both he and another author David Kinnaman talk about how we are similar to those exiled to Babylon. The Jews in Babylon were encouraged in Jeremiah 29 to live their lives among the existing culture, making a difference there at that time but also in hopeful expectancy of the restoration of the end of their exile. I really like this quote from Keller about the exile in Babylon:
"This reflects the same balanced attitude that Jewish exiles were called to have toward Babylon. The Jewish exiles were not to hate the pagan city as they bided their time, waiting for the day of their departure. They were to be fully involved in its life, working in it and praying for it. At the same time, they were not to adopt its culture or lose their distinctive identity as God’s holy people. God called the Jewish exiles to accept and embrace the tension of the city for the sake of God’s glory — and this is exactly what today’s Christians are called to do as well."
I got to thinking about this in terms of church ministry and outreach as well. If one thinks about it, a city is where one has a thousand points of connection with others as people walk and work together. The challenge with ministry where I live in suburbia is that people live compartmentalized lives. There are not the same natural interactions with others. Therefore, it seems to me that the long term strategy for outreach is to help church members find and leverage ways to embrace many little conversations, just like the opportunities you would find in the city. And this strategy probably goes beyond a growth in worship numbers, although it could at some point, but it means helping people make a difference with the Gospel by connecting with many others in small ways, just as you would see more naturally in an urban area.
In a sense, Lutheran schools, while many are in suburban settings, are really artificial urban communities, were many gather in a high density setting. Each of us in schools have thousands of points of connection with others like one would find in the city.
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in curriculum and "excellence", however that is defined, that we lose sight that the most important role in Lutheran education is to leverage and build upon the thousands of connection points we have in schools. If we truly are about the Gospel first, then our most important responsibility is to be intentional about using these connections to the glory of God in sharing His love with others.
Posted by David at 7:11 AM