This is our Story, our Song

I’ve been thinking about that classic gospel song, Fannie Crosby, Blessed Assurance, especially its chorus, which I would adjust slightly, as follows: this is our story, this is our song, praising our savior all the day long! I’d would suggest that in ways far beyond what Crosby could have foreseen, this chorus is so apt, as we recall and live into who we are, what our story is and the song we’ve always sung at our best. Ours is the story of a great God who is supremely good, creating in love a world very-good, and placing it in the care of beloved image-bearers. And though the story got hijacked and diverted, our great God did not give up, but …

Missional Mal-Practice

Hardly anyone gets kicked out of the church because they did nothing.  Even among the clergy, who are employed, we seldom relieve them for “doing nothing.”  Can you imagine members of the church being brought up on charges of inactivity—for doing nothing right or nothing period?  Our practice might suggest there could be no such thing as “missional mal-practice.” But not if we read Jesus’ story carefully.  In fact, within the story it is hard to distinguish Jesus’ call to discipleship—conversion and new life let us say, from Jesus’ call to participate in doing what Jesus does.  The most basic call of Jesus is to follow him, and it is in following that the call is accepted.  In the absence …

FOR LOVE OF THE PHARISEES

It is common to rail against the Pharisees in our churches.  Pharisees embody everything that goes wrong in the life of a “missional church.”  Pharisees gather herds of sacred cows and solemnly lead them to pasture, carefully tend their bruises, and eagerly exalt their status among the other, ordinary and mundane bovine.  Pharisees travel far and wide in order to entice the potentially scrupulous to join them, and then take delicious delight in denying them full entrance and frustrating them with endless hoops and hurdles.  Pharisees callously fail to see the hurting and if once they should see them mercilessly refuse to reach for them and help them.  Pharisees always assume that “it’s their own fault; they made that bed, …

On Security and Mission

I am writing from inside a secure compound in Eket where the Rev.  P. S. lives when she is in Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, which is located in the south central region of Nigeria and is a city central to the established Free Methodist Church in the country.  We have armed security police stationed inside our compound, two for each of two twelve hour shifts for the six days we will be here.  Whenever we travel they accompany us.  For people whose lives are quite sheltered relative to much of the world it feels surreal. In a context where threats have been made and danger allegedly lurks about, especially for one of our Superintendents who has been targeted recently …

It’s a Slum … That’s why!

Our Kenyan friend, en route to the Church in Kagwangware, explained, “This place is a slum, not like Kibera (Kenya’s world-famous slum) but still a slum; that’s why you see these churches!” My mind did a quick rewind and replay several times in the next while.  I would never have expected this comment as part of the travelogue, but it was.  In just a moment or so, we arrived to joyful worship, warm and receptive brothers and sisters, and a sense of the Holy inside that tin-roofed, lean-to, worship center that made the slum outside fade while glory-generated hope on the inside captured and changed our focus.  In the light of that glory I could then say, “Of course, the …