Table Talk with USAmericans who Listen


I’m getting a hang of using wordpress after using movabletype since the day this blog was born … wow in 2002! Look at the archives.

Spending with Phil Baker and Mike Fonner was an absolute joy. They are very much more our seniors in terms of ministry and life experience. And yet the posture they came with was one of listening, conversation and being open to how the Church or Christians worldwide who share common concerns can move forward together.

I think we need space like this to talk and listen. When there’s no pressure towards a predetermined goal or agenda, ironically the freedom generates more heartfelt musings which ultimately might lead to some REAL possilities.

A few things stuck with me …

What are the issues which tend to polarized people? How do we negotiate or connect those who take a more “reactive” approach with those who are more “proactive”? What does it mean to “take it slow” verses “apply more pressure”?

Do we operate without a sense of hope? Of why is there a lack of confidence towards seeing change?

Where do we need to be confronted with our preset ideas and stereotypes? What kind of thinking needs to change first?

How can those who fee “alone” find solidarity … locally as well as globally? and when we do, what’s next?

What does it mean when “mission” includes more than just saving souls?

I found this table talk to be a wonderful “model” on a conversation between western Christian leaders (in this case both from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) and a mixture of us emerging (or not yet or whatever) leaders in the east (which is Malaysia). After sharing some concerns, in our case the starting point was Malaysia which later led to us listening to what they perceive in the USA, and somehow keeping some global perspective running in the background, I saw many points of convergence.

A side note: off tangen … funny how we could laugh at the same church or in this case theological related humor …

of course, conversations never end thereafter we finish our drinks … how the content of what we talked about can play out, now is in the hands where we decide to do something about it… keep in touch via email, possible partnerships, networking with each other, and so on.

This has been a good year for me in terms of these kind of interactions. I’ve always benefited from my conversations with Christian leaders from the west who do not impose their agenda on me. It’s empowering. And it’s most enriching. I also must mention it’s also a great joy to talk with leaders who are more senior and wiser who actually encourage us along with insights. But insights that not not forced down our throats in absolutism. It’s firm, informed and yet open (yes even for revision).

I must mention we had two ladies with us yesterday. One was more quiet. But I’m glad Siew Pik spoke up to contributing valuable input from one who is from the Pentecostal tradition as well as one who is in a “mega church”-Malaysian style. Of course, our conversations revolved more in the socio-political arena. I suppose this is where we as a Church in Malaysia still need to begin or know how to see how the gospel and our faith touches those aspects where many just laugh it of by saying “politics is dirty”. And yet, we know how political decisions as well as the climate we are in directly and indirectly affects us. The issue is not whether we should or shouldn’t talk about it but how can we talk about it in a way where our Faith has a “blessing” and “prophetic” impact on these matters.

8 thoughts on “Table Talk with USAmericans who Listen

  1. I was truly humbled by their humility. Thanks for facilitating this meeting, Sivin.

  2. I’m glad for your input Bob, you never fail to put in front of our face in vivid terms the socio-political realities we might prefer to ignore.

  3. I also really appreciated Siew Pik’s input esp. on the developments in the Pentecostal & charismatic churches. It is amazing to see how God is working amidst his people.

    Hehe .. maybe we should be careful what we pray for. If we ask for a revival, he might just answer in the affirmative and throw the ball back in our court for our action .. LOL

  4. i was…err..speechless(??)…but yes very encouraging to see two ‘seasoned’ veterans of the church take us seriously and respectfull – Baker was a ball of energy, wasn’t he?!

  5. Bob K – I wonder (and we can probe Siew Pik) whether it’s possible that the Pentecostals and Charismatics thrive in the language of prayer, and in many ways have a passion to get into the practical, and yet though have 2 important ingredients for social transformation are held back by dualistic mindsets or reductionistic gospels. Of course, we “praise the Lord” for all the good that is done … but can we imagine “greater works!”?

    alwyn – Oh yes … Baker surprised me .. delightfully!

  6. RayC22

    Good stuff! Always appreciative of ‘movement’ or simply ‘yumcha’ sessions that you coordinate…

    Sivin, I am learning more and more each day that instead of me trying to do everything, to mobilise people around me and recognise their giftings and empower and entrust them to do it while I hold more facilitative role…any tips?

    Believe it or not, you continue to serve as a mentor to me from my tender early teenage years and now as a husband and business person.

  7. Interesting that you’d mention the role of dualism in the way we perceive our faith. I have been speculating recently whether or not this is the same reason why the social gospel got reduced to what it became and hence triggered such a reaction from the more conservative segment of the Church which in turn also got trapped in the same dualistic snare.

  8. Welcome to WordPress! I too have made the switch from other blog tools in the past, and have been with WordPress now for a while, and find it works very well for me. Trust you’ll have a similar experience!

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