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.