What is my culture?

I sure meant to write more this week.  I also meant to think more though, and I haven’t had time to do quality stuff.  The normal stuff was there of course:

“I hate working on windows”

“My knees hurt and I’m only 31!  50 is gonna suck.”

“Why won’t those kids realize that I would be perfectly happy if they showed how much they loved me by being quiet?”

“Wow, Michelle is still amazingly hot!”

“I hate working on windows”  (I’ve thought that one a lot this week.)

I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday.  I know it is because all the appointments on the calendar for Wednesday, September 9 (9.9.09 by the way) are happening.  The time goes fast when you’re busty.  I mean, busy.  I’m sure time flies when you’re the other, but I wouldn’t know.  Although I DID gain 10 pounds somewhere in the last 10 years.  Yup, I am rapidly approaching the 190 pound mark. That diet of Wendy’s and Coke is really hurting me.

Have I ever mentioned that I get distracted easily?

But I realize now that busy is the key term I’ve been going over this week.  It’s my vacation week, but I am busy.  We had friends over on Monday then worked on the house when they left.  Yesterday was appointments all morning and working all afternoon.  Today was working and appointments followed by soccer tonight.  Mix in making meals and sleeping and we find that we have 24.5 hours worth of things to do.  Imagine what it would be like if I was working?  Or when the kids are back into hockey, swimming or other activities?

And that’s the North American culture now, isn’t it?  What do we value here?  In no particular order and acknowledging that I will forget many things, this is what I can come up with in the next 10 seconds:

possessions (and getting more)

entertainment

control of our lives

self-sufficiency

resting

being busy

Those last two don’t really fit together, do they?  Which is why 96% of all sleep therapists and mothers tell us we’re not getting enough sleep!  (I just made that stat up, but I bet your mother will tell you you’re not getting enough sleep.  Mine always did.)

So here is what I see as the prototypical North American, at least Canadian or maybe even Central Albertan lifestyle.  You wake up exhausted, commute to work, work, commute home and then do a quick supper, kids/own sport/social activities and watch TV to “wind down”.  And the last three don’t necessarily occur in that order.

But look at what many missional church leaders say the typical early church life consisted of (see the first chapters of Acts):

Meeting together

Eating together

Sharing the Word

Sharing burdens

Sharing everything with those in need

That’s a lot of sharing.  And does it seem busy?  Rushed?  Alone?  Michelle and I blame it on the cold weather here, but we don’t typically ever see other people in a social basis.  Not even our neighbours!  Why?  Because people go from their warm house, to their warm car in the garage to their work then eventually back home to their warm garage and warm home.  And they don’t come out.

So then how do you ever talk to people?

Living missionally consists of living/showing/ bringing the Gospel of Christ into the culture of those that don’t have it.  It’s really easy to think of it in a international missions sense.  Because we say that any missionary to another culture needs to take on the appearance of that culture in order that they, and their message of hope will be received.

But how does it work in your own culture?  In a warm culture climate (think Mexico or other warm places), the people value community.  They value getting together and eating meals, they want to help out their neighbours and just be social.  Sound familiar?  It should, it sounds like the early Christian church.  So it appears to be quite easy to introduce the Gospel into this context.  (Ignoring of course spiritual warfare aspects, but I know of a guy, or GOD who gives me the power to handle that stuff!)

But here, the culture values basically everything counter to the Gospel and how it teaches us to live with each other.  You want me to share my money or food or possessions?

“Tough luck, I won the social lottery and you didn’t. ”

“It was probably your fault anyways. ”

“If you really worked at it, you could have what I have.”

Or sharing my time?  I DON’T HAVE ANY TIME to share with others.  I barely have enough to take care of myself and also my family.

So to live missionally, I need to put myself into the culture of those that I am trying to reach.  But what do you do when the culture of those that you are trying to reach values the exact opposite of the message you are trying to tell them?  How is that appealing?

And this is my current problem.  What can I do here, in my own town that fits within the culture but also is counter-cultural?  How do I live acceptably within a materialistic, “anything but God and Jesus and Christianity” culture and still maintain my values that there is nothing greater than the Lord and worshiping Him?

Shop, but not too much? House, but not too big?  Car, but not too expensive?  Extra activities, but not too many?  Where is the balance point?

And I haven’t even begun to think about the problem of being too busy with activities to pray effectively and study the Word of God.

/RD

Good bye past

I’ve been struggling the past couple of weeks on who I am here, how to deal with what I’ve become, how to implement dreams and visions that I have and how to push past the spiritual warfare that tries to keep me from those same dreams and visions.

The biggest idea I tend to ruminate over (big word alert!) is how much I enjoyed Mexico.  I loved Mexico.  I loved what I became there.  I loved my friends.  I loved the food.  I loved the culture.  And being back in Airdrie many of my conversations and interactions tend to centre on Mexico.

And that isn’t bad.  It is part of the re-entry process.  But I think I finally reached an important point today in church.  (Yes Ro, corporate church can serve a purpose when approached properly  🙂    )

Mexico is done.  Like high school, working at Earl’s and changing diapers it is an era that has completed.  And like high school, Earl’s and diapers it served a purpose and was greatly enjoyable.  But you need to leave those eras in the past and embrace the now.

(We all know those people who graduated high school, but never left the attitudes and behaviours right?  I’m not one of them.  When I left high school I left RUNNING.)

I live in Airdrie.  I lived in Mexico once, but that was then.  Airdrie is now.  I connected deeply with the people in Mexico and still have some phenomenal friends down there but there are people in Airdrie that I can make those connections with.  And I need to.  They need it too.

And that is where the missional living comes in.  There’s a term that gets used a lot lately, eh?    But what does it mean?

I’ve reopened “Organic Church” by Neil Cole.  It was one of the first books we read at MTS last year and it started the process of pushing me over the edge.  The edge being satisfied with life and ministry, being pushed over it meaning I am no longer satisfied.

The main point of the book is that church should not be, and is not meeting once a week on Sunday morning.  Church is a descriptive term of a group (2 or more, sound familiar?) of people that meet together, eat together, share life together and push/pull/guide each other closer to God.  And they intentionally seek out others who aren’t in community and bring them in. That means we take the gospel to where there are people who need it.  Bars, strip clubs, low rent housing, jails, homeless shelters, foreign communities…

(note: I have no problem with Sunday morning church.  I love it.  But it does not come close to achieving the Great Commission so therefore we need to begin the differentiation of “going to church” and the “Church”.)

(I’m sorry, I’m a big fan of cliche’s and similar statements.  It’s just gonna happen)

The parable of the sower mentions the gospel being sown onto different types of ground; where do you think the most fertile soil is?  I’d have to say it is where all the shit is.  (I use the term as a noun, like fertilizer, so don’t be sending angry emails!)

Anyways, I need to sum this up.  I’m off work this week and chances are I will have lots of time to think while I strip caulking off of windows.  And when I think, I write.

So ya, Mexico is in the past.  I know we’ll still have plenty of conversations about what happened down there and there will be many people we talk to at church who only see us as “the family who went to Mexico”.  And that’s cool.  (Today someone saw me and said “welcome back!”  Which is funny since we’ve been back for three months.)

Talking about Mexico is a great way to start conversations about heading out into the dirt of the world and planting seeds!  I don’t what we’re doing yet, but I am praying to find out soon.  And chances are we won’t even figure out what’s going on until we’re knee deep in “fertilizer” and seeing God grab a hold of the people He sent His Son for.

I’ll keep you posted.  And hopefully challenged. Possibly offended, but please know I am just saying my thoughts.  I’m not trying to make anyone angry.  Usually.  🙂

/RD