Culture: Living in the Places of God by Scott Nelson

41MUe4-gLXL._SY291_BO1204203200_QL40_.jpg Author Scott Nelson
Isbn 9780830810451
File size 0.8MB
Year 2013
Pages 80
Language English
File format PDF
Category philosophy


Culture Living in the Places of God Scott Nelson Foreword by Alan Hirsch Forge Guides for Missional Conversation FGMC_CULTURE.indd 1 7/25/13 2:01 PM InterVarsity Press P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426 World Wide Web: E-mail: [email protected] ©2013 by Scott Nelson All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without written permission from InterVarsity Press. InterVarsity Press® is the book-publishing division of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA®, a movement of students and faculty active on campus at hundreds of universities, colleges and schools of nursing in the United States of America, and a member movement of the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students. For information about local and regional activities, write Public Relations Dept., InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA, 6400 Schroeder Rd., P.O. Box 7895, Madison, WI 53707-7895, or visit the IVCF website at . All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. While all stories in this book are true, some names and identifying information in this book have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals involved. Cover design: Cindy Kiple ISBN 978-0-8308-9571-7 (digital) ISBN 978-0-8308-1045-1 (print) Contents Foreword by Alan Hirsch. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Introduction to the Forge Guides. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Using the Forge Guides . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Introduction: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Culture: Living in the Places of God Session 1: Living as Ambassadors. . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Preparing People to Encounter God Session 2: Living as Illuminators . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Shining God’s Light in Every Context Session 3: Living as Translators. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Contextualizing the Gospel and the Church Session 4: Living as Narrators. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Changing the Social Story Session 5: Living as Foreigners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Belonging to a Different Realm Session 6: Living as Enhancers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 Bringing Out the Beautiful FGMC_CULTURE.indd 3 7/25/13 2:01 PM Appendix. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71 Tips for Having Great Small Group Gatherings Recommended Resources for Further Study . . . . . . . . . 75 Notes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 77 FGMC_CULTURE.indd 4 7/25/13 2:01 PM Foreword For the better part of two decades now, missional has been equal parts buzzword and byword in the contemporary church. Many church leaders have decried the trendiness of the term, predicting that it will eventually go the way of all fads, and that responsible church leadership involves simply waiting it out, keeping the faith. And it’s hard to deny the trendiness of the term: as the editors of Leadership Journal noted in their preface to an article of mine five years ago, “A quick search on Google uncovers the presence of ‘missional communities,’ ‘missional leaders,’ ‘missional worship,’ even ‘missional seating,’ and ‘missional coffee.’”1 The closer the application of the term approaches absurdity, the less seriously we are inclined to take it. And yet over the same period the concept of a missional church has proved its durability. Conference after conference has organized itself around the concept that God is on mission in the world, and that as means to the end of achieving his mission God has created a church. Seminary after seminary has reconfigured its core curricula to take the model of a church on mission seriously, and to train pastors and other leaders to understand themselves as missionaries first, “keepers” of the faith a distant second. What so many have dismissed as a fad or FGMC_CULTURE.indd 5 7/25/13 2:01 PM 6 C u lt u r e a trend, substantial and growing numbers of people are recognizing as a paradigm shift. Of course, any number of paradigm-shifting conversations are taking place at the conceptual level among the leadership of the global church at any given moment. Many such conversations bubble up only to dissipate; such in-house deliberation is part of the long history of the faith. It is in this historical reality that the durability and trajectory of the missional church conversation reveals its significance. More than a mere theoretical conversation, the missional church bears the marks of a true movement—broad-based, but with a cohesive sense of self-understanding; goal-driven, but deeply rooted in principles and conviction; critical of the status quo, yet always motivated by the greater good. Christianity itself has always been a movement, inspired by the God who created the world and called it good, who so loved the world that he gave his only Son for it. Any movement over time has the capacity to atrophy, to be distracted by its own sense of self-preservation, to be enthralled by the beauty of its past accomplishments and the currency of its cultural power. But the original vision of the movement relentlessly beckons, confronting our self-congratulation and propelling us toward the greater good of our original calling. At Forge we have always said that the best critique of the bad is the practice of the better. With this series of guides on missional practices we are trying to help create a more productive and better future for a church now in systemic decline. We believe the church was made for far more than mere self-preservation, and certainly not for retreat. We were made to be a highly transformative Jesus movement; we had best get on with being that. To do this we need to redisciple the church into its calling and mission. Discipleship is a huge key, and for this we need tools. Every movement requires the education—the formation—of its people. I believe the next phase of the movement that is the missional FGMC_CULTURE.indd 6 7/25/13 2:01 PM Foreword 7 church resides not so much in seminaries or elder meetings as around the tables of people of faith wherever they find themselves. These Forge Guides for Missional Conversation are intended to facilitate those conversations—to help you, wherever you are, to step together into the flow of God’s mission in the world. Scott Nelson is particularly equipped to facilitate such conversations. He has held leadership positions in traditional churches and studied the church’s mission while pursuing his doctorate. He has taken on the responsibility of the theological direction of Forge Mission Training Network in America even as he has developed a missional community in the neighborhood where he lives. The mission of God is thoroughly integrated into Scott’s life—heart and soul, mind and strength—which is as it is intended to be. Each of the five guides that make up this series will be valuable on its own; thoroughly scriptural, accessibly theological, highly practical and fundamentally spiritual, each will give you a fuller appreciation of what it means to be a follower of Jesus on God’s mission. Taken together, however, they are a sort of curriculum for a movement: you and your friends will be fully equipped for every good work that God has in mind for you in the place where you find yourself. Our missionary God created a church in service to his mission. We were made for a movement. Read on if you’re ready to move! Alan Hirsch FGMC_CULTURE.indd 7 7/25/13 2:01 PM FGMC_CULTURE.indd 8 7/25/13 2:01 PM Introduction to the Forge Guides I’ve been obsessed with the idea of helping Christians develop a missionary imagination for their daily lives ever since I began to develop such an imagination back in 2007. My missionary imagination began at a church staff retreat. I was asked what I thought our church staff should do if God dropped us all from a helicopter into our city with absolutely no resources and asked us to start a church. While thinking of my answer to this question, I realized I would have to take on the mindset of a missionary—go out to the people, learn who they are, get involved in their lives, care about what they care about. The years that have passed since that fateful question have been an amazing journey for me. I quit my job, dove into full-time study of the missionary mindset in Christian congregations, began exploring ways to live like a missionary in the condominium complex where my wife and I currently live, and teamed up with the Forge America Mission Training Network to be a part of an organization that actively seeks to implant a missionary mindset in Christians and their faith communities. I’ve written these guides to help you ask some of the same questions that I asked, and to help you think about what it might look like FGMC_CULTURE.indd 9 7/25/13 2:01 PM 10 C u lt u r e if you, your group or your church were to develop a missionary imagi­ nation for everyday living. There are at least three reasons why it is crucially important that you ask these questions and develop a missionary imagination. The first reason is the cultural changes that are taking place in Western contexts. Changes such as increasing globalization, religious and cultural pluralism, huge advances in science and technology, the collapse of many modern principles and the growth of post­modernism, and the secularization of the West have drastically altered many cultural landscapes. If the gospel is to be proclaimed faithfully and effectively in these changing contexts, Christians must be missionaries who study cultures in order to translate the gospel so that all can clearly hear it. Simply saying and doing the same things in the same ways as generations past is no longer effective. A second reason it is vitally important for Christians to develop a missionary mindset is the crisis facing the institutional church. The many different statistical studies that measure the size and influence of the church in the United States are sobering. Despite the explosion of megachurches, congregations in the United States as a whole consist of older people and fewer participants, and experience decreased influence in local contexts. The institutional, established church is experiencing a serious internal crisis as contexts change and congregations fail to adapt. Christians must regain a sense of their missionary calling if the trend of a diminishing role for the Christian faith is to be reversed in the West. Third, I see evidence of a common longing for a deeper, lived-out faith among many Christians, especially among emerging generations. I’ve felt it and so have many others who I have read and talked with. It is the feeling that something about the way I am participating in church and faith seems to be missing; it seems to be too easy or too shallow. Conversations with Christians across the country reveal a longing to be challenged, to do something significant with their faith, FGMC_CULTURE.indd 10 7/25/13 2:01 PM Introduction to the Forge Guides 11 to make a difference in the lives of people both globally and locally. By developing a missionary imagination for everyday living, these Christians develop a mindset that can lead to deeper expressions of faith, which ultimately reorient a person’s whole life around what God is doing and wants to do in this world. My life story and the three reasons I just listed compelled me to write and use these conversation guides for my own small group. Perhaps you have had a similar experience, or maybe one of the three reasons prompted you to pick up the guides. Even if not, I sincerely hope the questions contained in these guides will infect your minds, as they did mine. And I sincerely hope the mission of God will infect your lives, as I pray every day for it to infect mine. FGMC_CULTURE.indd 11 7/25/13 2:01 PM FGMC_CULTURE.indd 12 7/25/13 2:01 PM Using the Forge Guides My focus in creating these guides has not been to give you all the answers. I firmly believe you and the members of your group need to discern the answers for yourselves, and further, to generate the crea­ tivity that will shape your imagination for what a missionary lifestyle might look like in your life and community. My task in creating these guides is to help you ask good questions. While creating these guides, I kept coming back to the idea of mini­ malist running shoes. The science behind these increasingly popular shoes claims that the human body is naturally equipped to run. Big, cushiony, fancy running shoes are not only unnecessary but counterproductive. What runners really need is a simple shoe that accentuates their natural abilities, encourages proper running form and protects their feet from environmental hazards. These guides are designed to be a lot like minimalist running shoes. They offer the bare minimum you will need to ask good questions, seek innovative answers and develop a new imagination. The guides do not do the work for you. Rather, let them draw out your natural ability to hear from Scripture, to think about the world around you, to wonder about who God is and to imagine ways you can live as a missionary. These four practices appear in each lesson under the headings FGMC_CULTURE.indd 13 7/25/13 2:01 PM 14 C u lt u r e “Dwelling in the Word,” “Contextual Analysis,” “Theological Reflection” and “Missionary Imagination.” I have identified relevant biblical texts, but it is your job to listen for how God is speaking to you and your group. The guides also provide probing questions about your local context, but it is your job to do the analysis required to provide the answers. Similarly, the guides will provide theological content and point to basic principles of missional living, but it is your job to reflect on the nature of God and how he is asking you to live out his mission in your context. To help you understand what you will be doing as you work through the conversation guides, a brief description of each basic practice follows. Please note that some groups will naturally gravitate to some of the practices more than to others. Don’t feel the need to go through each section with a fine-toothed comb. There is more material than will likely be needed for most group gatherings, so be flexible with the practices and allow the group to choose how much time to allocate to each section. Practice 1: Dwelling in the Word Each group gathering begins with a time to hear from Scripture through communal reading and listening.2 Dwelling in the same text over a period of six weeks (or more!) will allow your group to begin developing a shared imagination and a shared openness to the many things God may want to say and do through the text. The group listens to the passage, reflects in silence for a few moments and then breaks into pairs to discuss two questions about the text. After sufficient time has passed (while allowing adequate time for the remainder of the session), the group gathers together. Individuals share what their partners heard in the text while answers are recorded. This section concludes with the group asking, What might God be up to in this passage for us today? Sometimes people will doubt the value of returning to the same FGMC_CULTURE.indd 14 7/25/13 2:01 PM Using the Forge Guides 15 text time after time, but trust the process and believe that the Bible is the living Word of God. The more you continue to return to the same text, the more you will find blessing at the insight you gain, the habits you learn, the imagination you develop and the community you form. One final point can help you get started on the right foot: dwelling in the Word is about hearing from God’s Word and hearing from each other. Each person is responsible for helping one other person give voice to what she or he heard from the text and to then be an advocate for that person’s thoughts in the larger group. These practices are intended to help the group create an environment where thoughts are safely shared and members listen deeply to one another. Over time, dwelling in the Word is a powerful tool that can form a community of the Spirit where the presence and power of the Spirit is both welcome and expected. Practice 2: Contextual Analysis Missionaries know that the gospel must be translated—literally and figuratively—into local contexts. Every local culture is unique and will hear and receive the gospel in different ways. A good missionary learns to understand local cultures so that he or she can inculturate the gospel in a way specifically tailored to a specific people group. At times of inculturation into new contexts, the gospel has proven to be the most effective at bringing about radical transformation in individuals, communities and whole societies. The Forge Guides for Missional Conversation are designed to help Christian communities inculturate and translate the gospel into their local contexts by facilitating shared practices of contextual analysis during group gatherings. Practices of contextual analysis will focus on three main areas: describing the local context, discerning what God is already doing in the local context and wondering together what God might want to do in the local context. A variety of ways to practice contextual analysis are provided in each session. Sometimes the group will simply have FGMC_CULTURE.indd 15 7/25/13 2:01 PM 16 C u lt u r e questions to answer. At other times they will be asked to complete an activity or reflect personally. It is hoped that the variety of practices provided will lead the group to a new understanding of their context and will help the group faithfully proclaim and live out the gospel in new and exciting ways that transform the members of the group and the world around them. Practice 3: Theological Reflection David Kelsey defines theology as the search to understand and know God truly.3 Theology in this sense becomes wisdom in relationship to God. Much like understanding an instruction manual about building a bike leads to the ability to build that bike, searching to understand God brings about some ability to relate with God through spiritual practices, worship and faith. Those who know God can sense and participate in what God is doing in the world around them. The section on theological reflection is designed to help your group seek to know God truly so that the group might become wise in relationship to God. It will encourage you to actively wonder about who God is and what he is up to in the world. Scripture passages and a few reflection questions will be provided for the group to study. Sometimes other sources of theological reflection—such as distinct church traditions, church history or other texts—will be provided. No matter what specific content is provided for you to reflect on, the goal will always be the same and that is for your group to ask, What can we know about who God is and what God does? How does this influence the way we relate to God and join with him in what he is doing? Practice 4: Missionary Imagination Each session will conclude with a time for developing a missionary imagination through conversation, personal reflection, group affirmation, prayer or a variety of other activities. The time set aside for FGMC_CULTURE.indd 16 7/25/13 2:01 PM Using the Forge Guides 17 missionary imagination is intended to help each individual in the group gain a better sense of his or her own missionary calling, and also to help the group as a whole develop a missionary imagination for its existence. I’ve tried particularly hard to provide a wide variety of activities in this section. The goal of these activities as well as their very nature is meant to help you and your group break the mold when it comes to calling, vision and imagination. When my own small group went through this material, we had a blast doing things like drawing pictures, sharing stories, writing limericks and making collages, as well as answering the more conventional discussion questions. Have fun with this section and do your best to encourage one another to be imaginative, innovative and experimental in missionary living. Before We Meet Again Midweek assignments are given at the end of each week’s session. These assignments are fun little projects designed to help group members continue to think about the session throughout the week. For instance, one assignment might ask members to take pictures of three things during the week that they think represent the work of God in the world. Time for the group to review the midweek assignment is often built into the next week’s session. I strongly encourage your group to complete these assignments whenever possible. My own group really enjoyed them! Recording and Reflecting As your group talks through these guides, my final recommendation is to take notes during the discussions, whether individually or through a general secretary. These records will help you discern patterns and commonalities that may help you see what God is doing in your lives. FGMC_CULTURE.indd 17 7/25/13 2:01 PM FGMC_CULTURE.indd 18 7/25/13 2:01 PM Introduction Culture: Living in the Places of God The Christian church has been multicultural from the dawn of its existence. Consider, for example, the day of Pentecost in Acts 2. The Spirit came upon the followers of Christ and empowered them to speak in foreign tongues. Their multilingual preaching to the multiethnic crowd prompted the people from “every nation under heaven” to ask what was happening, to wonder what God was up to in this miraculous event (Acts 2:5). The “God-fearing Jews” (v. 5) who heard and responded to the words of God that day included “Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs” (Acts 2:9-11). This story, found early in Acts, signals the beginning of a theme that runs throughout the book: the gospel and church of Jesus Christ can power­fully encounter every culture in every context. Not too long after the day of Pentecost the church was scattered throughout much of the known world, taking with it the message of the gospel and the traditions of the church (Acts 8:1-8, 26-40; 13:1-4). FGMC_CULTURE.indd 19 7/25/13 2:01 PM

Author Scott Nelson Isbn 9780830810451 File size 0.8MB Year 2013 Pages 80 Language English File format PDF Category Philosophy Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare The mission of God has a church. So the church needs to be in sync with the mission of God. This is the guiding philosophy of the Forge Missions Training Network, which has helped church leaders and laypeople alike all over the world to reach their neighbors, their neighborhoods and their communities with the gospel. In these guides you and your friends will be equipped to be missionaries where you are?which is why God has a church in the first place. In Culture: Living in the Places of God you and your friends will focus your attention on the context in which God has placed you. Just as the church in the book of Acts learned to constantly ask, “What type of people do we need to be, and what type of message do we need to speak, in order to faithfully live on mission where we find ourselves?” you’ll learn how to be in and for the place God has you. Other volumes in the Forge Guides for Missional Conversation: Community: Living as the People of GodMission: Living for the Purposes of GodPower: Living by the Spirit of GodVision: Living Under the Promises of God     Download (0.8MB) Hegel’s Phenomenology Of Spirit Tetralogue: I’m Right, You’re Wrong The Discernment Of Spirits: An Ignatian Guide For Everyday Living Colossians and Philemon What Makes Life Worth Living: On Pharmacology Load more posts

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