Still meeting them where theyre at – bible

I have been thinking about a rewrite of Meet them where theyre at and in the process reflecting on, what does it mean to meet people where they’re at with the bible. A lot of my work over the past few years has been around powerless mission, and process eccelesiology, so if we are to embrace the fact that our liberation is wrapped with those around us and particularly the marginalised, then how we approach the bible will be a factor.

Our consumer shaped language and modernist culture has driven a guidebook, approach to the bible. But the answers we have come up with in the past through systematic theology and critical textual analysis are pretty redundant. This is not to say what has been offered in terms of understanding the context and time of writing has not been valuable. However 99% is rooted in a language house and culture that has (probably unknowingly) never really balanced the bible, culture, and tradition paradigm. The desire to drive down into the text for a correct answer, or definition of for example church will never reach a real conclusion, and the idea that if we get this right that we can then develop strategies for mission or programmes that will see growth is a modernist consumer driven myth. The closest I have come to definition of church is that it is a mystery and as such you cannot separate out being and growing, mission and eccelesia so we will never arrive at a full definition but the journey and destination are inexplicably linked, and we need to embrace this uncertainty more fully.

As I was thinking about this subject during the week I tweeted –

The bible is not a map showing the way around a new land but a seed that will only grow and nourish the pilgrim as they interact with the skills and knowledge of locals, who challenge the pilgrim again to let the seed die that a new plant may grow and see fresh bread made.

I was deliberate with the word bread, as my experience has been one of seeing Jesus revealed as I journey with others outside traditional christian community gatherings, both in the day to day journey and as I grapple with the text. Coupled with an experience of having Jesus hidden from me and others by well meaning theologians and ministers who have sought to offer an answer (which stems more from their consumerist cultural paradigm) rather than being prepared to embrace the way of christ with its uncertainity, adventures and challenges.

8 thoughts on “Still meeting them where theyre at – bible

  1. Perhaps you have written about this already, but this entry has made me curious about your own journey, and particularly in Christ being ‘hidden’ from you.

  2. my thoughts have very much been heading in the same way as yours Richard…seesm to me that receiving from the Word (Bible) maybe at its best when like skimming stones rather than diving…receiving the wisdom et al but then as a bouncer to increase, amplify and reassure of knowledge of love and inspire love …anything more and it may quickly become a tool with which we create home for ourselves to the exclusion of others….desert fathers great…desert nomads even better..hospitality, tempoary, whats mins is yours et al…learning from and with muslims as well as with christians…I have a long held concern that much of church is such that we have made a massive series of conversations that we actually dont need to be having in the main part….

  3. incidentally, just before the riots last year a thing occured to me twice in the estates in and around hackney as I walked through….young people who I did not know through bread at me! different moments on two different estates with two unconnected young people….I have sincerely been troubled since that it felt like a very direct and honest critique of church offerings of the meal which we share…

  4. good post Richard. What I want to write is very personal to me and from my own expereince, But I am wondering if the Bible is redundant! or just a red herring. What I mean by this is that I feel that my life and journey has been more directly impacted by people, culture, books, life expereince, assumptions, values and morals more thant eh Bible has impacted me. My emotions – understanding them/me, my children, my relationship with my wife and my body have been the greatest teachers.
    I am aware that I am saying this from the postion of reading the bible for most of my life but have rarely read it during the last 15 years. I would also like to add that clearly many people in out world have never read/herard of the bible and yet follow closely the way of Christ.

  5. James, hope you might not mind me adding that I have felt similarly to the bulk of whta you just expressed for a similar length of time; an old vicar once said to me, in essence “its all about the spirit” …if we think on that word in a number of forms…the way in which something is done or said, the attitudes that we can appreciate God may want us to have or things to express, our motives for doing and being, as well as all the other stuff about gifts. love, God’s attitudes, Holy Spirit, a sound definition of love…is there much more that we the Bible could add, Im not sure there is. As someone who has been a Tutor working with folk who have learning difficulties, and being in an area where literacy cant be taken for granted, it does my head in that a major discipling tip that many church leaders give out is to ‘have a quiet time’..with an expectation that this should always include reading 🙁

  6. Rob – thanks for that – always good to know that others are singing off the same hymn sheet! Like you said there is much wisdom in the church and Christian tradition as there is in other spiritual traditions. A vicar friend (now retired) of mine feels that most churches/christians miss the point of Jesus. Churhces are full of people praising his name and invoking his name to do this and that but what is important is allowing the christ to be birthed in us and in the institutions we are part of. Not sure how Christians who have been so faithful to the blessing of wealth and have been part of the insititutions that have brought this collapse interpret it all… end times maybe!! On that note I’m pretty sure that Jesus would be in one of the ‘occupy’ tents

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