Georgia is Cold

I have been in Savannah, Georgia the past few days at the United Methodist Congress on Evangelism.  It has been a good time.  I’ve spent my time talking about young people and the church, or more accurately young people not in church.

Overall the reactions have been very positive.  I’ve started each seminar focusing on the incarnation:  the vital part of our faith where we believe that God sent His Son to be “with us”.  I also spent some time talking through our Christian sub-culture and the way it views the world like a trip to a public bathroom (get in, do your business, touch as little as possible and get out as fast as you can).  Then I spend time talking about the beauty in the world and the redeemable things that are everywhere.  I also spend some time talking through some emerging church questions and issues (although I’m thinking that my “Emerging Church in a Box” idea [candles, incense, fold out guitar, glue-on goatee, thick rimmed glasses, and flip-flops and then the box becomes a recycle bin] could really be a big seller).  

The difficult part of this whole thing for traditional churches like the United Methodists (and Nazarenes) is that we have to admit that we’ve stepped out of the incarnational work of being the church and that we’ve settled into a theology that is mostly self-centered.  If we can get to the place where we are honest with ourselves on these issues, then the hard work can begin.  But many are struggling to find the place for this shift in their programs, meetings and budgets.  “We’ve always done it this way,” reigns supreme.  

My prayer for the church is that God would give us the vision to see the world as it is changing, the wisdom to interpret what we see and realize, the courage to act in generative and hospitable ways and the love to persevere with one another. 

BTW… everytime I come to Georgia the cold comes too.  Savannah is normally 70 and sunny this time of year.  It was in the 30’s and 40’s while I was there.  I’m not saying I’m bitter at Georgia as a whole, I just want to know what it has against me.

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5 Responses to Georgia is Cold

  1. Scott Marshall says:

    Brian –
    I love the imagery of the world as a public restroom. So true, so true. I think there’s a concurrent and competing thought that the world is like a movie theater (we go into it, sit in the dark and, forget about reality for a while). Or maybe that’s the church, or both at the same time.

    I’m wrestling through all these same things and what they mean for the church we are currently in. It’s a “can we get there from here” kind of moment for me at present.

    I’m doing a seminar for our district on Designing Structures for making disciples in the 21st Century in about a month (and am interested in what I am going to say 🙂 ). Any suggestions?
    Given all these questions floating around in church world, I’ve had something of a Maalox moment with regard to discipleship via the church. Can we do it? How much of it are we responsible for? Etc, etc, etc. Peace to your tribe.

  2. Jeremy says:

    absolutely loved the “emerging church in a box” image

    rest of it was spot-on as well

  3. James says:

    Brian,

    I agree that much of our Nazarene tradition has stepped out of the incarnational emphasis in our work and theology and I also agree this is why our theology is often self centered and more concerned with just personal salvation and personal piety rather than holiness in the context of community and others. I have been very much caught up in the awesomeness of the incarnation and its implication over the past year and I believe it has given me a more robust way to lean into living out my faith in this world. It is ironic that as Nazarenes we have struggled to maintain an incarnational perspective, particularly because our name comes from such an incarnational picture of Jesus Christ in scripture and when we choose our name as a tradition we did so in order to be identified with the poor and the “despised”.

    Peace,

    James

  4. ragingbhull says:

    I wonder if the relatively recent turn back to Christology and the Gospels have not helped us a people lean more into the incarnation and therefore more into rediscovering our heritage, our story and, it is my living hope, into a re-imagining of what that means for us in the culture we find ourself in today. It seems to me that this focus have helped our ecclessiology as well as our theology.

  5. ragingbhull says:

    Hey Scott, I am not sure there is a methodology that I know to share regarding discipleship, however, whatever ways we approach discipleship must be tied deeply to relationship, or more appropriate, friendship, and maybe the incarnation points us to that in the strongest ways.

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