Get out! – 7 steps to get into the right harvest field This blog is a follow-up to the guest post from Dan Pyke last week “What if we’re not harvesting the right field?” Also mixing into my thoughts for this post are the Simpson Lectures happening this week. Anna Robbins has been challenging us to see we, Christians in North American, are most definitely not in exile, in fact we are Babylon, the privileged and, too often, have been and are, the oppressors. This calls us to own our story and calls us to deep repentance. I highly recommend you listen to the lecture series, they are stimulating lots of needed conversation. The lecture series will be available to watch here: http://www.acadiadiv.ca/simpson
With all these thoughts mixing together. I’ll try to get down how we start connecting with the “right” harvest field (I’d appreciate your input.) In other words, how can we be in the world, knowing God is already there. The truth is we are already there. We are in the world, we are a part of the culture. We are them. And they are us. So how can we see God use that reality, not as an us going to “conquer” or tell everyone the “right” way to live, but as us being in the community and being God’s salt and light. Currently, we seem to make three errors. (I’d recommend reading the classic “Christ and Culture” By Niebuhr to explore various approaches to culture.) One, we remove ourselves from our wider communities and stay in our holy huddle. Two, we become like the culture and never speak about our world-view and faith. Three, we yell at culture hoping they will somehow, someway act like us.
What if we are already there? What if we are in culture, in the right harvest field, we need to trust God is already there working? What if we are already there, we just need to change our attitude? What if we are already there, we just need to be the church where we are, instead of just being the church during our sacred times?
Here are some suggestions for being in the right harvest field, right where you are:
1. Repent – Anna faithfully called us to this. Agree with God and ask for His forgiveness for the wrongs done in the past and the wrongs being done now, for our collective sins. I agree with God, we, I, have wronged the aboriginals, the blacks, the poor and have neglected the call to be an ambassador of reconciliation. I need to repent and trust God will show what is next. We/I have not love our neighbour, welcomed the stranger or sought God’s reconciliation in the world. We/I have stayed in our huddles at church, at school, at home. Reflect. Repent. Do not move on quickly.
2. “You are here” – take stock, examine where you are and the privilege you have. Ask questions like: Where do you go every week, who do you connect with in the course of a week, what’s your story, what the story of the groups you belong to (the good, the bad, the ugly), where are you privileged, where have you felt under-privileged, what do you need to repent of individually and collectively?
3. Listen – seriously listen – listen to others stories, listen to what’s happening in the community, listen to our history, listen to the voices of others who experience and background is different than yours, listen to the outsider, listen to a new pocket of society your church could be connecting with, listen to the younger generation. Invite others to tell you more about their life and reality. Get out of the Christian huddle and listen.
4. Recognize God’s already at work - Invite God to open your eyes to see how He’s already at work in the world, in the places you go each week, in the people you are meeting and in your community. God has given you connections and interactions throughout your community. He is already at work in those connections. Invite God to use those connections for His glory.
5. Be normal – Hang out with normal people. Christians, me included, can be weird sometimes – just sticking to our own crew, using our own insider language, only hanging out with each other, unsure of how to act… Please, start hanging out with normal people - eat lunch with normal people, hang-out with those from various backgrounds, ask to hear peoples’ story, connect with others at the rink, invite in people that are not a part of your Christian huddle…
6. Serve others - What have you already got? Look over #2 through 5, you have a lot! Use your connections, assets, privilege, and influence you have to serve others. This is not in an “I have better and know better than you so I’m going to help you” way, but in a “let’s journey together” way, with an attitude of humility. Use your privilege to serve others and fight injustice systems.
7. Show up – show up at the places where your community gathers. Show up where other parents show up, on their turf (i.e. I’m not talking about at the church). Show up where others with similar interests gather. Show up at the tables where decisions are being discussed and made in your schools, community, province and Nation. Show up and trust God to build connections, friendships, and conversations and trust God for His redeeming work in our world.
Will you join God in changing Atlantic Canada one neighbourhood at a time? God is already at work in your neighbourhoods where you live, study, work and play. Join God.
If your looking for very practical ideas on how to do this, these two previous blog post could help: > 25 missional experiences everyone should have before they are 25 (If you are older, you can catch-up!)