A couple of years ago, a good friend, near to whom I formerly lived, now living several hours away from me, wrote informing me about a debilitating physical condition that had recently begun attacking the integrity of his body. Upon diagnosis, he was immediately admitted into the care of an NHS hospital. Sensing his distress, I shared this “blessing-prayer” with him. Continue reading “Heart and hearth in harmony”
Between 2003 and 2008, I returned repeatedly to Burkina Faso, a landlocked nation on the southern borders of the Sahara desert. On each occasion, I was invited to present a series of missional, discipleship seminars, to two Burkinabé constituencies.
- Rural-based, Pentecostal missionary-pastors and bible-school trainees associated with church-planting movement, Assemblée Evangélique de Pentecôte
- Urban-based university students and young office workers associated with national youth movement, Mouvement des Jeunes Serviteurs de Dieu
On each occasion, informal feedback from participants suggested that a significant spiritual dynamic was taking place among participants during the seminars.
Between 2009 and 2013, building upon my experience of contextual leadership training, in conjunction with Fuller School of Intercultural Studies, I completed a programme doctoral research, exploring the missiological dynamics underlying my interactions with Burkinabé leaders and learners.
My research employed the perspective of contextual missiology to address theological education and discipleship in the context of Burkina Faso. My conclusions were based upon a qualitative analysis and evaluation of Burkinabé leaders’ and learners’ insights, attitudes, perspectives and hopes regarding incumbent forms of training and praxis.
Modern theological education, as generally understood and practiced today, is a wholly Western concept. Yet, over the past century and a half, it has become a global prescription. The reason for this is the successful expansionism of the Western missionary movement.
Father: May the rumination of our hearts,
Enter into the rumination of your heart.
May the gentle waves of discernment,
Elicited by falling pebbles of heavenly revelation,
Dropping into our spirits,
Form in us an Abundance of Life.
May the wounds of our past,
Now dressed and healed by your gentle renewal
Prove the very basis
Of our own gentle touch
As we reach out to a wounded humanity.
May the passionate prayers
That once welled up in tearful angst and fearful request
Now come home to us
In fresh expressions
Of hope and faith and love.
Imagine a narrow winding pathway, stretching off into the distance. The sides of the pathway are steep and slippery. On one side of the path is an uneven, marshy bog, on the other a dry, sandy desert. From either it is evidently difficult to escape, once trapped in one or another. Continue reading “A narrow pathway, leading to Life”
The great test of the validity and value of authentic spirituality is not how it fares amidst the affirmation and celebration of cultic community, nor in the isolation of physical separation from the world’s hustle and bustle.
It is how it fares when brought right up alongside and against those places and systems and happenings and events and choices that the world-at-large finds irresistible and assumes are irreplaceable.
Bet hamidrash is a Jewish concept meaning “house of study.” It denotes more than a physical location, however: it denotes a way of interacting with the study of Torah. I believe there is much in this idea that could helpfully inform how other traditions, particularly that of Christianity, approach the study of Scripture.
From The Rabbi from Burbank, Zwirn, Owen (Fort Worth, Texas, 1986):
My father wanted me to become a rabbi, just as his father had wanted him to be. For the past 2000 years or so, any Orthodox Jew who wanted his son to become a rabbi would send him to a Hebrew School called a yeshiva, also called a bet hamidrash, a “house of research.” The name comes from the words bet, meaning “house” and doresh which means “to seek, ask, question or research.”
Christianity is not a religious option: it is a call to service.
What we think of as Christianity is an historic faith. A faith focused upon a series of stories, describing real, historic events that took place, within the larger history of the world. And the objective reality, at the heart of all these stories, is the calling, the “election” of a people — firstly the Jews, then from amongst every ethnos — every tribe, people, language and nation (I.e. the Gentiles) — to serve God’s eternal purpose: the renewal of creation. Continue reading “Christianity is not a religious option”
The church is always in a state of crisis; its greatest shortcoming is that it is only occasionally aware of it.
Dutch missiologist, Hendrick Kraemer (1888 – 1965), quoted in Transforming Mission, David J Bosch
To me exploration isn’t about conquering natural obstacles, planting flags… It’s not about going where no one’s gone before in order to leave your mark, but about the opposite of that – about making yourself vulnerable, opening yourself up to whatever’s there and letting the place leave its mark on you
This quotation from Benedict Allen* speaks to me because it effectively provides an echo of all human experiences…if we can recognise it.
Might the concepts of Open Source might have something to say to Christian communities exploring fresh ways of thinking and practising Christian faith and community involvements? Continue reading “Open Source Community”