109 thoughts on “WELCOME IMN 2006

  1. In response to Dean’s question, here is a very brief example:

    Take the command from Exodus 20 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.” A static theological reading would focus on the community of faith itself — perhaps lamenting on the demise of Sunday blue laws or stressing the need for every Christian to take a “personal sabbath” or articulating activities that are OK to do on Sunday.

    Such questions have some validity as research into the history of interpretation would attest, but this sort of interpretive work does not go far enough. A missiological reading (which by the way is not a foreign intrusion onto the text) always is interested in how a given passage fits into the Big Picture of the Bible.

    In this case, Sabbath is related to Creation. This means that God has made sabbath part of the creative fabric of the universe. Sabbath is also a community activity — there is no such thing as a “personal sabbath.” This should push us in the church to ask “How can we as a community of faith embody the command to desist from labor in order to serve as a witness to the sort of people that God intends for us to be”? Think about the witness that the church could become in our crazy 24/7 driven world.

    I could say more but I hope that this gives you a little idea of what I am getting at. In other words, we should ask “How does this text fit into the overarching story of God’s mission? What sort of ethos does such a text assume for the people of God? What sort of invitation is implicit for those outside of Jesus Christ?”

  2. brandon, I was thinking about a church that complained that they couldn’t do evangelism because they were so busy with church stuff. so i called their bluff….

  3. Eric, you’re right about not all of our sermons needing to be preached from a stage. Some of the greatest fruit I’ve seen from my teaching has been round dinner tables, sitting in lounges, and when out and about in the real world.

  4. Brandon, good comment–I think you know the answer in your question. It is the Spirit. There is a way to go the scriptures with pride, arrogance and an agenda. The text can become then a proof text.
    The other way is to come to the text in humility and submission.

  5. i worked with them to eliminate the church stuff, the activities, prayer meetings, etc, so they could have time to interact with those outside. the result…nothing.

    they just filled up the time spent in church with time doing chores. finally time to clean the garage or work on the yard.

  6. I was a part of St Thomas’ Church in Sheffield for several years when I was at uni and they placed a lot of emphasis on work/rest balance linked with creation/sabbath etc. And for them, that meant that July and August was like a time of community sabbath where everything would slow down, the focus would be on drawing near to God, etc. I liked it.

  7. On reading the bible missiologically (I can’t spell) Are we even equipped with our limited understandings of Old Testiment context and Language to do this complete justice. I mean I think we have some great tools, but unless you live in the context and speak greek or hebrew….aren’t we always looking at somewhat of a shadow….? I’ve heard so many different teachings on similar topics that it almost sounds like its coming from different sources…..anyone else ever get this sense?

  8. abraham was on a journey. each and every day God revealed himself and deepened the relationship. abraham didn’t appear to study the concept of God, but rather got to know him. why would he be willing to sacrifice his son isaac for an idea?

  9. Another thought is to ask the question what is God up to in the world and how is God calling us (the community and individuals) to be a part of His work in the world.

  10. so then, a missiological approach to ex20 must include the question of how we can help usher humanity back into that creation sabbath?

  11. The key ultimately is to help our people to see themselves as part of the grand narrative of Scripture. Let me remind us of two interconnected texts:

    In Exodus 19:4-6, Israel receives an invitation to covenant with the God of the Exodus. In exchange for faithful obedience, God offers status: treasured possession and a twin vocation: kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

    In other words, the full salvation of Israel implied that Israel was to serve as a servant nation for the world as God’s chosen people. Israel was to be a nation of priests, i.e., intermediaries who link the world to God — this is mission. Israel was to be a community (kingdom and nation). Israel was to reflect God’s character to the world (this is the essence of holiness).

    This remains the vocation of God’s people today. Peter made this clear in 1 Peter 2:9 “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”

  12. Jon I liked what you said:
    “My supposition is that a person who encounters God in Christ can’t help but share that love. I think that is what we see throughout scripture–people encountering God, being transformed, obeying God and sharing His love with others”

    But why do you think there are so many Jonah’s in the church?They people who don’t want to go out and would much rather just condem.

  13. Brian,
    I resonate with the idea of a common narrative. In that context, we don’t reinterpret Scripture to fit a missional agenda. Rather, we become a part of the missional movement of God.

  14. Dean and Levi,
    I think that you are both correct. I think that this also implicitly involves moving from trying to meet merely the “felt needs” of people to offering an invitation to a relationship with the only god who can truly fill our deepest longings as human beings. We need to read the text with an eye to its deepest meanings.

  15. If we rely on knowledge, can we fully be confident in our endevours, because our understanding is second hand? Therefore we have to trust that the Spirit is doing something with us, otherwise we should all be learning fluent greek and hebrew to pass on the REAL truth of the gospel…? any better.

  16. Deepest meanings are still held together by exegesis, though, and not by reading into Scripture what we want to see. Reading carefully is not reinterpretation – which seems to be the trap that led us to a church that segments evangelism or even missions as one part of the church, rather than the ethos that drives it.

  17. Yes, Derek. Instead of looking to Scripture for prooftexts of why we should be on mission, we should see the Bible as existing because of God’s mission in the world . In other words, as missiologist Chris Wright says, “Instead of talking about a biblical basis for mission we should be talking about the missional basis of the Bible.” This is a paraphrase of Wright but it is accurate.

    I think that this is dead on. A missional reading is not merely an add on application to our sermon or an ideological grid through which we justify our own missional practices rather it is a reading the emerges out of a close study of the text itself.

  18. I wonder if we focus too much on either knowledge or on experience. It seems the basic interpretation comes down to obedience – ie. read the example, command, or narrative and to join it.

  19. this past weekend many of us experienced the intimacy that some have with the pittsburg steelers. from their dedication and worship, i heard more about the steelers, their past, present and future than i ever imagined.
    if we could convey that out of intimacy with christ, He will be made know – that would be cool.

  20. I can only speak my experience in the Lutheran tradition–I observe that people do religion rather than discipleship. Therefore they have limited experiencial knowledge of God and are insecure with themselves and their faith. Therefore they function like practical atheists or try to make themselves feel better by putting down others. Kind of like “mean girls” but in religion.
    On the other hand scripture shoud transform us through the renewing of our minds so that we might learn to love God, obey Him and love our neighbor and serve them.

  21. I like that quote/paraphase, Brian. Really good.

    Have you or anyone read NT (Tom) Wright’s article on Scripture and the authority of God? It link in some of these thoughts, if I remember correctly.

  22. I do have a question from a comment earlier on the idea of a 30 minute conversation rather than a 30 minute monologue. Even monologues can draw us in – Peter’s seemed to do just fine in Acts. More than that, listening to someone complete their framework of thought or presentation in the form of a message helps the listener not to jump into a conversation for which they are ill-informed. I view the message (monologue or otherwise) as a contextual invitation to connect with someone afterwards. What do you think?

  23. i am teaching a special topics in evangelism right now and some people’s heads are spinning around. they want to learn a method, a plan. can we be in danger of compartmentalizing God into a 7 minute presentation?

  24. Brandon,
    I don’t see serious study and the inspiration of the Spirit in tension. Greek and Hebrew are always helpful tools to possess. I don’t think that serious exegetical work done in a context of prayer in the service of God’s mission will ever become optional. In fact, in the West, I think that we need to up the ante. I am now encountering regularly Muslims for example who want to talk about the Bible. They know many of the stories but they have their own “take” on them via the interpretation of the Bible found in the Koran. In my view, this calls for even greater study on our part. We need to flat out know the story precisely in the service of the mission of God.

  25. wow, time flies. great being with everyone but i need to go have lunch with my business partner/wife/mistress, christina. i’ll be back to see everbody’s last comments later.

    Thanks so much Brian, and Alex.


  26. A thought on the Steelers: I wonder if we aren’t being too hard on the church in this context. Many people do convey their passion for Jesus, but don’t have the backing of network TV (and would we really watch it if it was broadcast?), salaries, and a SuperBowl. I understand your point on communication and passion, but wonder if Christianity is more like guerilla marketing rather than major event.

  27. I know that our time is running short. I will linger a bit longer. I will be with all of you on the weekend before Origins to talk more about this. I want our brief time together in May to be as helpful as possible.

    What are some of your burning questions?
    What would you find the most helpful?

    You can also send me an enote at brian@realmealministries.org

  28. I believe it all comes down to foundations laid long before any of us where born. We all have GONE to church, every GOES to church. I don’t believe there is a church that goes to the people (traditionally speaking). Therefore we don’t have a foundation of get action from the scriptures but rather having the scripture speak to US. I guess Erwin put it best in BW. We have a culture of come and listen (my paraphrase). Why would we be reading the Bible any differently?

  29. hey guys, time’s up. Thanks for participating in an IMN online conversation. Excellent stuff.

    Brian, thanks again. Looking forward to hearing more in May in LA.

  30. Brian,
    I agree – but not quite on the Greek and Hebrew aspect (especially because I have them as exegetical tools). The difficulty with requiring or even encouraging such tools, even to up the ante, is to expect others to possess those tools in order to correctly interpret Scripture. In Europe this has led to people actually giving up on Scripture altogether because they are theologically trained. I’ve heard this first-hand. If Scripture was written for a shepherd and/or 13 year old boy to follow, then what are the best criteria for a missiological exegesis?

  31. Chris and Derek,
    The nature of preaching is a topic worthy of its own thread. I think that it is important simply for us to find our own style and to be persons of character. As long as the biblical talk/sermon/dialogue is rooted in a close reading of the passage and helps its hearers to find their place in the biblical narrative, God can use it to convert the Church and World to His mission.

  32. Thanks Brian & Alex.

    This was fun once I got the hang of which threads to follow and how often to hit the refresh button:). Some really good thoughts here. Thanks for taking the time.

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