Sunday, November 30, 2003

Some thoughts on evangelism

William Brandes wrote:

“This is dying-and-rising, transformational stuff we're talking about!”
Actually, that is what marketing is about. Very important that you don't mix-up marketing and promotion. Folks do it all the time and give the focus and inventiveness, the transformational ability of marketing a bad gloss. No matter the organization. No matter your journey, marketing is a very valuable tool. Saddle Back understands it. Willow Creek does too. And, so do any number of organizations and congregations willing to focus on what business they are in.

My response:
Yes, transformational dying-and-rising! As I've previously pointed out, even the gods of the Egyptians could do the fireworks, but there were a couple of things those other gods didn't do: unconditional, unevoked and gracious presence with their people, and - resurrection from the dead!

During the 2001-2002 academic year, as I was listening in my marketing classes for the Community Economic Development program at San Diego State, I kept thinking (really!) about how I could apply some of the concepts we were learning about to the church and specifically to evangelism, though since then I'd hardly given it a thought until we began considering Willow Creek and Purpose-Drivenness on this forum. We're always cautious to admit it's not about sheer numbers, but without at least some of those numbers how far can our evangelism reach?

And we emphasize that for Jesus, since it wasn't about the signs and wonders but rather about the Sign of Jonah: death - and resurrection - and about God-with-us, God-among-us, we're not supposed to shout from the rooftops about all of those visibly spectacular miracles. I cannot get beyond the fact that, for me, the sacraments remain both the most hidden and understated as well as the most transparent evidence of the way God prefers to work among and within the people and those megachurches, despite emphasizing the Word, for the most part neglect the sacraments (aside from insisting on so-called believer's baptism). I'm still thinking that in order to say anything fair about Purpose-Drivenness I really need to read what the movement is saying about itself, instead of extrapolating my own imaginings on what they're doing.

Saturday, November 22, 2003

Creativity and Creation

Let’s begin with both Genesis creation accounts: Genesis 1, the human created in God’s image: creative, will-full, and above all, created for community, for covenantal relationship. And Genesis 2, the human who carries the Spirit-ed breath of the Divine. In the creation hymn of John 1: the pre-existent Word, the Word that eternally dwelt in interrelationship, becomes “flesh” (visible, touchable, audible, scent-able, smell-able, savor-able – taste-able: in other words, humanly “experience-able” and actually HUMAN – “very human of very human!”) and lives with us. Life lived in the Word; John tells us “that life was the light of humans.” Of us! The Word through Whom creation was formed; in the Word was life . . . is relationship not the essence of that “life?” As Christians we know the Word transforms by freely calling us and drawing us into relationship. So creation/relationship is necessity, essence and passion. So true since 325 we’ve affirmed the “Godhead” or “Trinity,” but was that interrelationship truly sufficient? Was it sufficient for the Trinity’s expressive essence to be “alone” and only with itself? Think about it! Since God’s essence and attributes include love, creativity, passion, grace, giving, glory (Moses Maimonides said God is identical with God’s attributes) . . . the Trinity/Godhead was necessary from the beginning but ultimately so was physical creation itself. Creativity is God’s essence, and because Godself is un-created that creativity needs expressing somehow and somewhere. A lot of this has to do with the nature of the covenant/s into which God calls us and also enables us.