21Dec03

Went to my home church today – Paris First United Methodist Church. I grew up in this church from infancy through high school. It was an interesting experience. Not sure how to describe it. A blend of traditional United Methodism, American entrepreneurial-ism, and good ole’ folks and good memories. I don’t intend any of it as a criticism or even a critique, but it got me thinking (again) about cultural influences on the church/gospel. Obviously, the church (all of the church) is significantly culture-bound. How does the core of the gospel get translated? What is the authentic core of the gospel – is there an authentic core? I believe that there is, but getting at it seems exceptionally tricky. We are so much beholden to our cultural status and situation.

Not sure where I’m going with this, but something bugs me about all this. It seems like the church that I know in the US is so out of touch with what is going on in the world around us. And yet in other ways it seems that the church is so enamored and embedded in the culture of Americanism. How can we engage the world around us as pastor and missionary and still speak a prophetic word of justice and freedom? How do we live as an alternative community that still relates to those outside of us?

Been reading The Emergence of the Church and The Da Vinci Code both interesting approaches to how culture plays itself out in the church. Of course, they wind up with drastically different conclusions!

Oh, the really cool thing about visiting my home church today was reconnecting with those spiritual forebearers that so influenced my life. Especially David Turley – he was my youth minister when I was in high school. Great guy – pure heart and a very real person.

And finally – Getting really excited about moving into VC Community House. It’s sort of a weird feeling – I haven’t met “face-to-face” with anyone in the community or the church, but I have a good feeling about it. I feel like I’m at this point where I’m tired of looking for the ideal, the perfect situation and rather I’m eager to allow myself to grow into the place God has for me/us. I don’t know who will be in my circle of close friends in this coming year, but I trust that I will have one. I don’t know what sort of ministry I will being doing, but I trust that I will be doing involved with some life-giving, kingdom-enhancing work. We shall see, we shall see.

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