Sunday, July 05, 2009

How I Got Here - Church Pt. 3

What happens when you wake up one day and discover that the church in America is no longer in a place of priviledge or power? (I know, not all have made that discovery). How do you influence culture when you have no power? Hauerwas and Willimon first helped me understand these questions in Resident Aliens (see, I told you this book influenced me). But then I read an article by Mike Bishop, a church planter in Florida. The article was titled Church as Subversive Community.

I had never thought of church in terms of "subversive", but after reading this article, and especially the quote by Eugene Peterson, it made sense, and helped to answer the questions I posed above. Here's the Peterson quote:

Three things are implicit in subversion. One, the status quo is wrong and must be overthrown if the world is going to be livable. It is so deeply wrong that repair work is futile. The world is, in the word insurance agents use to designate our wrecked cars, totaled.
Two, there is another world aborning that is livable. Its reality is no chimera (illusion). It is in existence, though not visible. Its character is known. The subversive does not operate out of a utopian dream but out of a conviction of the nature of the real world.
Three, the usual means by which one kingdom is thrown out and another put in its place - military force or democratic elections - are not available. If we have neither a preponderance of power nor a majority of votes, we begin searching for other ways to effect change. We discover the methods of subversion. We find and welcome allies.

What are those "other ways" to influence? As God's people, when we live out the Gospel together, and in tangible ways, our neighbors will take notice. (Remember, "gospel" means "good news"). It might take time, but they will notice. At some point they will ask a question (1 Peter 3:15). This requires that we take an incarnational posture. In other words, Christian bubbles are not very effective.

After reading this, I actually got to experiment with this a little. Mandy and I were a part of a house church with two other families. These other families had heard Mandy share about the school where she was teaching. We were praying for Mandy as she was a missionary there. Soon they wanted to be involved, so on the day Mandy had a talent show at the school, we all drove to her school. We all served in whatever ways were needed. This was a blessing to Mandy's co-workers, many of whom wanted to know why her friends would drive an hour just to come help put on a talent show for a group of kids they didn't know. This led to more conversation for Mandy.

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