Monday, January 09, 2006

What I Really Wanted For Christmas

Musings from John:

I have learned a lot about about mission work over the last year. I have garnered information about doing research, training leaders, indigenous church planting, mission movements, ethnocentric theology, etc. It has been worthwhile and needed. I have great data from outstanding thinkers. But the moment I step out my front door, I am on my own (metaphorically speaking - my wife and kids are right there with me).

Now I am faced with real people and real situations. Theories look awfully good in retrospect. It's amazing how truly messy life is, including my own. What I would love to find is a mentor who I can follow, learn from in action, ask questions on the go, and try my own version. Even better would be someone who is really good at it.

Robert Springer is amazing at what he does, and is a wonderful coach. If I was going to be in the nonprofit business, I would follow him around for as long as I could. The partner I worked for at PwC was amazing at business and figuring out what had real value, and if you could keep up, you couldn't help but learn as she blazed a trail. Over the years, I've asked a few people, older than myself, to hold me accountable to keep growing. I've tried to help a few people with a few less years and no gray hairs at least think about who they are and what they are about; I hope to grab a few underclassmen before we leave.

When did discipleship become a lost art? What could possbily be more important? Why aren't more Christians asking this question? Brueggemann has led me to believe, in his incredible book "Prophetic Imagination," that most peope really don't want change, and thus grow. It can be painful.

Now my family is sailing off into water unchartered by anyone I know well, except a very few, and none of them do mission work anymore. Not really even local mission work. Churches in Abilene, even with its Christian school and 30-something churches, haven't added to their numbers over the last couple of decades. Those who are already Christians have only shifted around. It's not like every person in Abilene is a Christian - at least 40% of the population doesn't attend ANY kind of church or religious establishment. It's not that people aren't interested. I did survey work in a neighborhood and most that didn't attend church had the feeling that people just didn't care.

I'm usually pretty good about moaning and groaning about these types of situations, but this time we decided we'd try to act to see what could be done. We know others are trying as well, so I can't just lop all of Abilene in my whining fit. My family has decided to pray for, take the Good News to, and help people who live in some apartments close to our home that is not very expensive (read something into that) and has a history of needing police intervention. We met one couple that is usually homeless and has drug problems, which we are at least gaining some trust because they know we care. I've also met some other families that are very nice.

So now what? Well, we will love these people, which we do. The next steps, problems, potential areas of danger, over-reaching, and just being annoying are things that I am unsure about. I handle chaos and uncertainty pretty well, and one of my majors is risk, but people's souls are at stake and my family's time and energy as well.

So here I am, passing along more info. Something will happen, and then I'll fill you in.

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