09 April 2013

All in different directions, but following Jesus?

I found this to be insightful; a reframing of diversity in a faith community that celebrates different ways of participating and in language that's accessible.

I found it at a site called
Postcards Radio.... and I'd love to hear how they came to name it that!

Monks, Cheerleaders and Activists
by Steve Drinkall

Ever wondered what's the go with the Monks, Cheerleaders and Activists icons? Well, read on...

I am often asked what I do for a living.

I drop my son to the local Catholic primary school in the morning, briefly exchange greetings with the other mums and the occasional dad and then wander off to an obscure workday. This could involve anything from helping my neighbor shovel sand from his driveway to having coffee with a friend of mine who is not coping with life, or even recording a podcast for download from our website. I am of course your run of the mill Pastor. Many of you can understand what I do because you are familiar with the concepts and language of the church. You understand that Pastors fill their days with attempts to serve people, encourage loyalty to Jesus and even articulate the values of the kingdom. These activites make sense to us in the church but spare a thought for the average mum at my son’s preschool.

She doesn’t understand why I seem to be around a fair bit of the time. She doesn’t understand why I am in constant conversation at the local coffee shop with a diverse range of sometimes, undesirable people. She doesn’t understand why I am studying theology for my own understanding with no view to becoming a priest and she certainly doesn’t understand when I explain to her that I am a pastor, with no church building and that our group meets in our back yard. She can be forgiven for thinking that I am like no other person that she has met and in fact last month she bailed me up over a cup of lukewarm coffee and asked me straight out. What do you do? And what is this Pathway church thing that you spend so much time involved in?

I wasn’t too fazed by this question because I have struggled to answer it many times before but have always been unsatisfied with my own responses. If I tell her it’s a home church, she thinks it’s a cult. If I tell her it’s a bible study group, she immediately loses interest. If I venture that I am the pastor of a new church plant, I can see the walls go up and my answers start bouncing back at me no matter how eloquent they are. There simply is not a common language, which adequately describes what I am trying to do, not one that is comprehensible to both churchgoers and those who would rather remain outside.

This time was different. I sipped the last of my coffee, took a deep breath and confidently explained to her that the Pathway Collective was a community of Monks, Cheerleaders and Activists. You can imagine that this raised even more curiosity in her and it prompted the obvious question, What do you mean? I explained that Pathway is simply a collective of ordinary local people who were trying to take Jesus seriously by living out the common stereotypes of Monks, Cheerleaders and Activists.

When you think of a Monk you think of someone who is devoutly chasing after God. You think of someone who believes that God can be known personally and is prepared to discipline themselves to finding and relating to that God. At Pathway we encourage people to chase after God, to see if he can be known personally and to dare to explore what he might want of us. We encourage the Monk in people. But we are also a community who values Cheerleaders. We think it desirable that people chasing after God should play a part in encouraging others on the road. The Pathway collective should really be a place where those seeking God can both cheer and be cheered on by others who have walked before them and even picked up by others when they falter and fall. It is an individual race but is also a team effort. Finally I suggested that Jesus very words and actions showed that he was deeply committed to putting the world back together, one life at a time. At Pathway, we don’t believe that God is fatalistic about the world he created but that he is a God who is busy reconciling people back to himself and back to each other. God is still desiring that our shattered world be put back together. We understand that to mean, putting food in the stomachs of starving kids, lifting the spirits of those with broken hearts, advocating for those without a voice and even building communities by helping to shovel sand. Pathway encourages people to search their own circle of influence to find a place where they can be active in putting the world back together. We may all go in different directions but we strive to be educated activists like Jesus.

So like I said, We are trying to be to be Monks, Cheerleaders and Activists in Holland Park. My friend sat satisfied, having finally comprehended in her own language what it was that I was trying to do and after a lengthy pause replied, “You know, I reckon I could have a crack at most of that myself…”

Check out more of the conversation via the above link. It's an Australian conversation that would apply in many places as we rethink 'church' in particular contexts.

- Posted using BlogPress

No comments: