A Third Way for Congregations and the word “And”!

I missed out on the following paragraph  from Changing the Conversation: A third way for congregations which I thought is worth some blog space.

In these third-way congregations, spirituality is real and worship is vital.  God is alive and people are engaged in practicing and expressing faith.  That is, they are living their faith in their vocations and relationships, in service and action on behalf of the poor and marginalized.  Whether it’s Bass’s “intentional congregation” or Guder’s “Missional church” or my own “rooted in faith/engaged in the world,” the primary identity of congregations that embody an emerging third way is not either left or right, liberal or conservative, because their primary identity is “Christian”.  Rather than being Democrat or Republican, their reference points are Scripture, preaching and the sacraments, life in community, and social critique informed and shaped by all three.  They are not churches that care only, or primarily, about either personal transformation or  the public square.  They care about both, and they work at both. (p. 6)

A friend asked me the other day whether I have lost my idealism.  I smiled and replied, perhaps I’m more idealistic than before, but many when I share the ideals it’s in a more restraint manner. 🙂

But seriously, I do care about both personal transformation and  the public square.  And I do work at both.  Depending on what time of the day you talk with me, you’d probably notice which one I’m working on.

However, the challenge of moving in this third way is great.  Because most of the Christianity Malaysian Christians are used to talk the language of “personal transformation.”  Perhaps, it might extend a little to family or work depending on life stage.  Usually work is talked about simply because it occupies our attention so much.  so, no choice right?  But I think if I hear people correctly, perhaps most Christians have the idea that work is a nuisance rather than the context in which the message of God’s reign desires to infiltrate.

It’s a significant shift to start thinking with and make that link stick.

This is most clearly seen when one starts talking about social justice, and then bringing in the political dimension of our surroundings in to conscious Christian conversation and reflection.  It’s scary, because it’s simply what truly affects us.  And as I shared with a couple tonight, the moment I caught the Gospel as public truth and not just for private consumption (no matter how good that might be), I was never the same.  I could never go back to business as usual.

the big and  really hits you hard if you are willing.  Some might get it in theory, but it’s where the rubber meets the road choices when one looks in the mirror and asks, “what have I gotten myself into?”

Some might think all this talk is about being fancy or fashionable.  Trendy or moving with the times huh? Maybe.

But for me, it’s about being faithful. Prayerfully, as one is faithful  the fruits of walking the road less travelled will emerge in due time.  Whether or not it’s in our life time.

Having a longer view makes a big difference, especially when we take risky baby steps.

Years ago, when the words “spiritual and social change” became part of the vocabulary of the Bangsar Lutheran Church vision statement, in hindsight, I sense it was an intuitive move where one would be open to see how it would work out in concrete realities.

This kind of change involves people who are willing to change, want to change, and work towards change. 8 minutes of explanation might get one started, but sometimes after 8 years, one might still feel it’s merely the beginning. It’s not going to be one persons journey, or even a loose collection of individuals.  It requires a community of Christ-followers who hear the call, risk stepping out, stick through the highs and lows, reflect and learn and move on.

This and word can do a lot of wonders. Three letters for a third way.

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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