Thursday, November 03, 2005

surrounded.

i'm actively praying for God to present ways to change the life i'm finding myself leading; constantly surrounded by faithfully attending church-going believers. i love these people, but i feel like everyone i'm in regular contact with uses the exact same vocabulary, subscribes to the same values, and talks every day about reaching the lost. just like me.

18 Comments:

At 11/03/2005 8:49 PM, Blogger adam said...

bryan. i don't know you, you don't know me. however, i've been in the same situation, and had the same thoughts. the only thought that gets me going is, 'it's nobody's fault but mine.' in part it may be a catholic guilt thing, but it works- and its the truth.

after that thought slaps me back into it i then ask, 'now what am i going to do about it?'

 
At 11/05/2005 10:12 PM, Blogger *thelongbrake said...

Welcome to my life at Liberty University. I graduate in 5 weeks and I'm determined, wherever I may end up, to meet people that aren't like me and that don't share my same value system.

 
At 11/07/2005 9:34 AM, Blogger Dusty said...

From a youth ministry perspective, how should this be encouraged, knowing that many parents want their students to avoid the "questionable crowd" and the "bad influences". However, to stay away seems to be the anti-thesis to Christ's call? Has the church created this false dichotomy? Also, how much of it is like anything else, we all want to be with people that encourage us, support our ideals, and see the world more or less the way we do. It seems pretty human...Not that this is an appropriate excuse, but it seems to explain why this is a default mechanism.

Peace

 
At 11/07/2005 10:56 AM, Blogger Dan Baker said...

Good thought Dusty. I am preaching today from James 1:19-27 v.27 says that we should keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. and we all know that we are commanded to honor our parents. Teh way that youth culture is set up in our society today, I see this age group as being ain a time of preparation. (not that they are incapable of doing, and being apart of 'real' ministry) But, as a youth leader one should focus on providing opportunities wher students caninteract with teh 'real world' while having all the necesary precations and safety measures that parents require. But the important thing is that the students and even the parents are taught the difference between beng in the world and not of the world. It is sometimes a fine line and that is where we all need good accountability to keep us on the right side of that line.

 
At 11/07/2005 11:48 AM, Blogger Andy said...

While I agree with Dan's thoughts about being polluted by negative influecnes I think it's all how we talk about it. Think about this...

I think that most Christians lack of interaction with nonChristians is based out of fear. Fear that they will be corrupted, tempted, mocked, or worse. We avoid that which we fear. This is not the gospel.

Truth is we were all there (at various stages of our lives) and God is on the move amongst those who aren't in relationship with him and he has chosen us to move with him.

I can't think of reasons to not be in relationship with those who are different than me. I can think of tons of reasons not to engage in questionable activity, but hanging out with someone who might do something that doesn't align with my belief system doesn't mean that I will automatically do the same thing.

I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a servant of all, about how to think of others as more important than me and I think a lot of it is based in how we view others and how we veiw ourselves. If my opinion of someone and therefore interaction with them is based out of fear it really has nothing to do with the Gospel. When we are crucified and let Christ live in us His Love casts out all fear and therefore gives us tremendous freedom to move amongst real people.

There's three things that I see at the core of this conversation that I'd like to hear others thoughts on. 1. Christians don't interact with others out of fear.
2. Christians don't interact with others out of pride.
3. Christians don't interact with otehrs out of misunderstanding of what Jesus is all about.

How does this change? What can we do? How should we teach (especially youth b/c it's a lot harder to convince 25 year olds of something that's completely the opposite of what their youth pastor and Casting Crowns taught them)?

 
At 11/07/2005 2:17 PM, Blogger Dusty said...

Out of Pride...Hmm, I think this probably has a lot to do with image...What will be perceived of us if we hang out with people that do bad things, or are poor, or smell bad...All these things make us uncomfortable...

Fear? Like being with others increases the likelihood we will not be "holy"? I am not, sure, Fear, maybe in a certain context...but fear can cover a myriad of areas that it can affect.

Misunderstanding Jesus...Has the church Ever misunderstood Jesus? Oh, ya, sure...to get at this question will require a much larger discussion, with lots of disagreements as to what actually is and isn't what jesus intended for his followers...

Until later,

Peace

 
At 11/07/2005 6:16 PM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

i'm having a hard time interacting with this topic, so this is even less readable than more normal comments.

are we fairly relating to the experiences of most christians? andy/brian, are most of the people at your church in this situation? adam? dan? i guess i thought that most christians spend most of their time with non-christians, if you include where they work/go to school, who their neighbors are, and then their friends, which usually are not only christian. maybe i'm wrong.

i guess i feel pretty out of touch with these concerns. 1. of course it's better to have christian friends and neighbors. 2. i'm glad to work with and live around people who aren't christians as well because for the most part they are interesting people.

Dan, i'd have to disagree with your way of framing the issue, however i recognize that this may be necessary in your context of youth ministry. i can't think of my relationships with people from work as a corrupting force. likewise the academic interactions i have with people of other faith or no faith at all. if we want to talk about being corrupted by the world we should be more concerned with the economic choices we make, the political allegiances we claim, and the way we determine what is "right and true." at this point it is no longer "the world" corrupting but also the church. i've been more corrupted by christians on these topics than non-christians.

i honestly think that the real problem trying to be named here is the problem of living in homogenous cultures. what is meant by "different" types of people? a white kid whose parents do or did attend a mainline church who happens to have sex with his girlfriend? someone who works at the grocery store instead of the church? these don't seem to be "real" differences. what about muslims? how about immigrants? someone who doesn't speak english easily? now if there is fear it is fear of the unknown, not fear of being mocked or rejected. now the concern is about rightly understanding and being understood, not being corrupted. my point is simply this: the impetus for this question may not be "holy vs. unholy," or being with christians or non-christians. this question smells too evangelical to me. how would you be with someone who is "other?" what do you do when you meet someone who speaks spanish? is homeless? some of these things become non-issues when the other is really something different, comes from somewhere different, or has a radically different perspective on the world (where us vs. them doesn't seem to exist at all).

 
At 11/07/2005 8:23 PM, Blogger adam said...

wow this post was a late bloomer, but I'm happy it did.

I'm not really following the last comment by Jake though I do agree with a lot of what you had to say. Rather I want to jump back just a second to something Andy said. When you wrote, "I've been thinking a lot about what it means to be a servant of all, about how to think of others as more important than me and I think a lot of it is based in how we view others and how we veiw ourselves," it really caught my eye because I've been thinking through my own ministry a lot lately.

I'm not really disagree with you here, but just want to say that I look at things a little differently. I don't think I'm right and you're wrong in this case (or even if there is a right and wrong), but I stopped when I read that line b/c it's not how I normally think of it all. It all being the servant leadership role in ministry and that I don't look at myself as the servant of all. Definately look at myself as the servant to some, i.e. youth and families of my parish, but with other's I see more as serving me. Like my supervisor for instance. Though he is my superior by definition he is also serving me, because I'm am learning so much from him. Likewise he is continually putting himself in positions where he humbles himself to help me out. The long of the short of all of this is that I don't think we can be servants of all.

This applies to the original post, and ongoing discussion because I think we also should look at the world this way. Andy, I think you were getting at this, because once we get over the fear, pride and misunderstanding we can stop thinking that we always have something to teach the world/secular culture and not the other way around. So the interaction Bryan was getting to in the first post shouldn't just be to serve/teach/evangelize them, but also learn from them. I think JC shows us this when he encounters people like the centurion whose servant needs healing.

One last comment: Jake, you are right about people generally interacting with non-christians quite a bit. I think Bryan and the following comments were aimed at intentional relationships, with the intention being something of a bringing god's kingdom sort of outcome versus kinda accidental relationships that happen by working in the same place as someone. This doesn't negate the fact that I liked what you said in the rest of your post.

 
At 11/08/2005 12:22 AM, Blogger Dusty said...

Jake, are you saying that you don't really think Christians only tend to hang out with other Christians? I think this is usually a pretty typical thought. In your situation, which is unique, unfortunately, you do interact with non-Christians. Most evangelical Christians do not. The most frustrating moment at my church so far has been a new "thing" they have started. Basically, well, what it was when I quit going, was a "class" to "workshop" on how to love people. Complete with homework assignments. I found the idea kind of revolting, but people seem to love it. So basically, these people that are already leaders in the church, on the Elders, on Worship team, teaching sunday school, etc. now have another thing to do within the church.

Is loving people truly this difficult. Get out there, meet people, put yourself in situations where you have to learn to love people that are different from yourself. Find out what they love, what gives them joy, why they do what they do. IN the process of the relationship, share who you are.

I guess this is where I feel a need to limit time with Christians. Last week I spent every night at my church or doing church activities. It drives me nuts...

As for the youth ministry perspective, I think you are limiting the influence of parents. Some parents would not support a youth pastor that encouraged their student to be with these bad influences. For some kids, maybe they should not be with these people yet. I think Dan makes some good practical points, but how do we start changing the understanding of youth ministry for kids, parents, and churches?

 
At 11/08/2005 9:41 AM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

maybe if i limit my comment to two points it will be easier to understand.
-what's so wrong with being around christians? specifically, would non-evangelicals ever even think to ask this question or is it motivated by the evangelical spirit of "reaching the lost"? isn't it better to have christian neighbors?
-is there a better way to frame the issue, instead of christian vs. non-christian, to reflect a desire for true diversity in the people we know. is the desire to get to know people who aren't just like me a desire to get to know someone who does not hold the same religious convictions or is it better addressed through broader differences in culture, economic status, and broad intellectual differences?

 
At 11/08/2005 11:00 AM, Blogger Dan Baker said...

I am seeing a common thred of a need for balance. Bryan's original post seems to come from a place of a need for balance in his interactions with people in general. (forgiveme if I misinterpreted your sentiments) ITs not that being with christians is Bad or being with Non-Christians is bad either. But, as christians we are called to love and live with both alike. And there are dangers in both. My original comment was made in a pastoral spirit. From the perspective of a pastor it is important to take note of and make provisions for such dangers. But I stress that this should be done so that christians can beinvolved to the fullest in either area of interaction.

A good read (or re-read for some) on this topic is Bonhoeffer's 'Life Together' Those of us that went on PRIME most likely read it. You may not connect with his assesment of current balance in interactions but the principles for interaction within the church and outside are on the money!

Good Discussion!!

 
At 11/08/2005 11:59 AM, Blogger Ryan L. Hansen said...

I wonder if the issue is arising from the way we are framing it? I think Jake is right on with his second comment, second point. Maybe the problem is that we group everyone in the categories of Christian/nonChristian. Are these the categories we want to live with? If they are it seems that there is only one way to share the gospel--make all the Christians non Christians and that fixes it. I agree, we need to pay attention to class issues, race issues, geographical issues, etc. And, Dan, I am not sure it should be considered dangerous to live with either Christians or non Christians. Maybe it is just dangerous to live anywhere in this world--and that's an ok thing.

Maybe we shouldn't be asking the question "where should Christians live/who should they hang out with?" Maybe it should be how Christians live out their existence where they (intentionally) happen to be. I am working on a post (I know, Jake, I know) that may address some of these issues about Christians and neighborhoods.

This is a good discussion.

 
At 11/08/2005 12:16 PM, Blogger Dusty said...

you said "make all Christians non-christians and that fixes it..."

HA HA

Peace

 
At 11/08/2005 2:16 PM, Blogger Jake Sikora said...

ryan, you're working on a post like i'm working on my thesis:
BS

 
At 11/09/2005 11:02 AM, Blogger adam said...

jake,
1) this certainly not a question that comes up in catholic circles, but that's always been the evangelical criticism of the catholic church, right? that is that the CC is not 'reaching out.' of course that's not counting that the CC is the largest socially active organization in the world, but i guess that doesn't count.

2) i don't think there are better ways to frame the issue, but there are other important ways. the christian/non-christian is important, but you're right so are the racial, economic, etc. basically, if you can think of a category or separation the christian, in particular, is called to cross that boundary (or at least be willing to when the time comes).

 
At 11/09/2005 1:18 PM, Blogger Andy said...

Can we talk about what Adam said "The long of the short of all of this is that I don't think we can be servants of all." Now I know that there was more that he said in regards to being the servant of some, but not of all.

I am wondering what the rest of you think about this. Jesus is clear that the ultimate objective for our lives is to become the servant of all. Is it ok to not hold this as a priority? Do you think this affects how and who we hang out with? Does it affect our desire for so much power that we're able to elect a president (that one was for dusty and jonny)?

 
At 11/09/2005 5:33 PM, Blogger adam said...

I think I was unclear... I don't mean to deny what Jesus says in MK. 9, but rather reinterperet it. i think the more humble action in some cases is to allow ourselves to be served, like when jesus has his feet annointed by the woman in Lk 7.

for us as christians though we are servants of all in how we interact with the other (religious/economic/racial) i think this is played out by being humble enough to recieve their wisdom/insights, and not seek these relationships as a way to instill our own. the way i understand the common evangelical notion of evangelism would differ from what i'm attempting to express- this may not be coming across so clear.

 
At 11/09/2005 8:50 PM, Anonymous Jake said...

i think i'm with adam on this one. sorry brother. i think jesus' example for a "servant spirit" or something may be fitting here instead of a command to serve everyone always. also, perhaps this topic has been abused by the "servant leadership" culture that lets people justify positions like CEO or President as a form of "servant leadership" when in reality they are probably not positions Jesus would ever be interested in.

 

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