People and barbecues (Laurence Keith)

Monday, 18 May, 2009

Barbecued meatLaurence Keith suggests we attend fewer conferences and more barbecues.

I've been noticing the way language and attitudes have been changing over the last few years with regards to mission. A good deal of it seems positive, with the movement away from bullet point evangelism tactics towards journeying with people. The distinction between de-churched and non-churched backgrounds has been helpful, but I wonder whether the next step is to move past de-churched and non-churched language and begin thinking of people, simply, as human.

Your exposure to 'church' doesn't necessarily have much bearing on your openness to God, or even your ability to live out Christian/spiritual concepts. Even if it does, discipleship for each person will be different and any real engagement with an individual will require a friendship to be formed, not a shove along the Engel Scale (which, of course, is hopelessly out of date). Any one of us is able to commune meaningfully with the living and eternal Creator, from the shallowest atheist to the deepest, most profound thinking holy man. Any of us can have a life changing, long term impact on another, if only we give them the time, energy, love and respect they deserve.

This may seem a naïve concept, but I truly believe in it. And I believe that there is strong resistance against it. Treating people with the respect and attention they deserve takes time, mutual sharing and energy. But we like our networks, our conferences, our ideas. And sometimes we like our private/work life divide, and the silence of our own homes. 

Attend fewer conferences and more local barbecues

So who is wise?  So who is your example?

Loving people is often called for, but to do it requires us all to have fewer, more meaningful relationships. Attend fewer conferences and more local barbecues; have less acquaintances and more authentic friends. Allow ourselves to be changed by those we're supposed to be discipling.

About the author: 

Laurence Keith is the team coordinator for Church Army's research unit, The Sheffield Centre.


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