Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Small chit chat and disembodied truth

I love cooking, so you would expect that I'd be happy to step into Martha's shoes when she is away. Martha is our community cook. The problem is that there is a raging Gordon Ramsey within me, my fuse is short, I'm volatile - not a good demonstration of the kingdom. When people are so fussy about the colour of their toast, the temperature of their tea it has an effect on me. When Martha is away - Kate steps in clothed in grace and serenity and I am kept well away.

So I look after parent and toddlers - I'm not good at that either - small chit chat pilfering time isn't my strength. Louisa looks up and says to me "good I'm glad you are here I want to chat some things through with you..."

Last week I discovered a little about Louisa. Her strong sense of justice, her interest in history and knowledge of Catherine Booth, her journey of faith that she hasn't yet identified. Her brothers are Christians and from her accounts are pulling out all the stops. "So do you know about Alpha?"

... "yep"....

"You see I'd be quite interested if I didn't think I was being sold something....why is it Christians go and spoil it by being salesmen pushing for a sale ...I don't like salesmen"

I feel like apologising, she carries on...

"... and why is it that Christians say pathetic things like God told me...? My sister-in-law told her church that God had told them they needed a new car - so everyone contributed....nice touch - but hardly transforms the world does it?"

I feel like apologising, she carries on

"... personal relationship with Jesus what's that then - do you hear from God?"

I tell her about our new youth club for lesser abled kids and God's direction, I tell her the story of how that all came about, I tell her about that deep strong sense of direction and urgency within, that sense of rightness - "but Louisa I'd hate for you to think this was just a sales patter, a sales pitch...!"

She smiles as her two year old is puts an end to our conversation - "there's a bit of a difference between their lovely little club and somewhere trying to make a difference...!"

The Provocative Church is one of those books that wont be making its way off my book shelves. Tomlin describes the disembodied truth that Louisa is so suspicious...
"Evangelism that proclaims a gospel of truth, yet pays little attention to the kind of community it creates or the quality of life it shapes is unlikely to be listened to for very long... post-modernity has a suspicion of disembodied truth...…

...the church, the community of the kingdom has to embody truth if its proclamation is to be heard...

...Churches where evangelism is based on disembodied truth often end up breathless exhausting places to belong...

Tomlin, G (2004) The Provocative Church. SPCK
Small chit chat...?

5 comments:

Rhonda Hayes said...

Kate serene in the kitchen? I could think of more appropriate words!!! Mind you, I've never been around when you've done breakfasts! I can imagine you get pretty scary!!!! By the way, do you think my church would help me buy a car too?

Gordon said...

ha ha!! On your bike Ronnie!!

Tim Thompson said...

Louisa's comments about being sold something and you feeling like you should apologize are interesting to me having just read a probably ancient article by Brian McLaren called Dorothy on Leadership. In it he refers to the need to move from warrior/salesman to dancer and from apologist to apologizer.

Thanks for the quote from Tomlin. I am continually trying to figure out how to convey and communicate truth to the non-believers I work with. Truly living in that truth so that it is not disembodied is an excellent starting point. And how it relates to community is also clearly important. How I get there and how we get there as community is another discussion.

Gordon said...

Thanks Tim - Tomlins is a good book to pick up, it deals with precisely the questions you are grappling with.

Anonymous said...

It has always concerned me when I see churches marketing themselves like another product to be sold. People are looking for genuineness from us. They are looking at us to point them to Jesus. We have foudn that many of the products that are sold to introduce people to Christ dont in fact work - it is the work of the Holy Spirit. We are the instruments however and our lives are the living example.

Glenda