Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Sacred Zone

I followed a link off of the TallSkinnyKiwi and have found a very interesting discussion about the emerging church. Let me first warn you, the first session is meant to push you beyond your limits. I was very uncomfortable with much of what was said, but it did start the wheels turning. If you decided to listen to the following clips, please do so with your critical thinking filter turned on. ;)

The second session was excellent. I needed to hear this. The church needs to hear this. Here is the link to Michael Frost sharing his "messages" on Unless a Seed Falls...
http://www.christianityworks.com/pages/teachers.asp?pid=150

How do you view your world? Do you have a sacred zone and a secular zone? I will be preaching on this in the next few weeks. Does God show up at Church on Sunday, but he's nowhere to be found at work on Monday? Is God present on Sunday afternoon watching the ballgame as much as he is during the 10:30 worship hour?

If you have decided to separate your worlds, you are dealing with Dualism. One of the outworkings of this is that we try to "kidnap" people from the secular and bring them into the sacred zone where they can meet God. I think some of this has to do with the history of the Church in North America in the early 1900's. People came to the sacred and found God. And so we found a working pattern and stuck with it.

We have revived this same pattern today in what are known as attractional church strategies. These aren't all bad by the way. There are still many people in the U.S. who when presented with the opportunity to meet a need will still come to our Safe Zone or Sacred Zone or Churchhouse. You build it, program it, show it, share it, they will come. And some will encounter Christ this way.

But what is the alternative? Here's a scary word - holistic. Another word that might help - incarnational. Or the buzzword that is almost to the point of abuse now - missional. Instead of a sacred zone and a secular zone, there is just one zone - life. And God is present in it. All of it. Jesus is comfortable in the house of the tax collector and in the house of God. Paul is preaching in the synagogue, and making tents in the streets. And God is speaking and using people in all sorts of places, not just the sacred spaces. Not just the church service, or the youth group event, or the Christian concert. God is at work in the school classroom, in the library, at the coffee shop.

Luke 7:34 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners." '

How could anyone call Jesus a glutton and a drunkard? Because he was shining the light of God in the dark places. He was loving people where the religious people would not set foot. He didn't separate or compartmentalize his life. He was about his Father's business 100 percent of the time

I'm afraid this is happening all around me and I can see it in my own life. I'm busy running from sacred zone to sacred zone. From Sunday School, to Quarterly Meeting, to Mission Meeting, to Church Camp, to Christian Concerts (actually, I haven't been to a concert in a while, but you get the idea) to Bible Study, to Weekly Worship and so on. And any ounce of extra time I have I try to spend on my family.

But what's not happening is I am not making unbelieving friendships. I am not helping unbelievers encounter God on the park basketball court or at the photography seminar, or sitting down for a soda at the coffee shop. This is what I was doing when I was working a secular job. I was seeing God at work outside of the sacred zone.

I am finding myself in a desperate catch 22. I urgently feel that our church must be better in so many areas, that our state work needs to be better, that the sheep I am shepherding need so much knowledge in order to better equip themselves for ministry, that I'm not taking time to make it outside of the sacred zones.

But I can't blame it all on the church. I have something within me the truly doesn't want to be a bother. Does that make sense? I'm so afraid of being a bother that I avoid the risks of friendships with many in my world, especially in my own neighborhood. How can a preacher be somewhat quiet and maybe even shy at times? What am I so afraid of? It sounds like I need to get out of the boat.

Dear God. You know me. You know my fears. You also know my loves. Please, please help me get out of the boat. Please help me to know when to get out of the sacred zone and into the lives of unbelievers and when to totally immerse myself in tending and teaching the sheep that you have placed under my care.

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