Sunday, July 18, 2010

listening between two worlds

I live in NZ and listen to the sobered and scholarly voices on the challenge of the post-Christian West. I work in Asia and listen to the enthusiastic vibrancy of a viral post-Western Christianity.

I live in NZ and listen to the church speaking “mission, mission, mission”. I work in Asia and listen to the church speaking “maturity, maturity, maturity”.

I live in NZ and listen to our comfortable lifestyle drain theology of any need for hope. I work in Asia and listen to a suffering lifestyle fill theology with the significance of hope.

I live in NZ and listen to the battles over this absurdity they call the new atheism. I work in Asia and listen to the awareness of the reality of all the old theisms.

I live in NZ and listen to the prevalence of English as a lingua franca with all the resources which then flow. I work in Asia and listen to all those precious ‘mother-tongues’ – and grieve over the paucity of resources which flow their way.

I live in NZ and listen to the endurance of relevance as the longing of the local church in the world. I work in Asia and listen to the relevance of endurance as the legacy of the local church in the world.

I live in NZ and listen to the voices seeking a leadership development adrift from theological education. I work in Asia and listen to how theological education is leadership development.

I live in NZ and listen to the strategies of church growth which are founded on minimising differences between the 'outsider' and the 'insider', urging acceptance. I work in Asia and listen to the absence of strategies for church growth - and then see the growth which comes by measuring differences between the 'insider' and the outsider', recognising rejection.

I live in NZ and listen to self-righteous Western post-colonialism (particularly in the media and at the university). I work in Asia and watch the colonising still continuing on unabated – a colonising of peoples’ minds through a global culture sourced in that same West.

I live in NZ and listen to the call for more leaders - and the suspicion of theological education for the task. I work in Asia and listen to how theological education is the hope and means by which such leaders are trained.

I live in NZ and listen to the preoccupation with stories and the call for more of them in preaching. I work in relatively poor, uneducated  and oral societies in Asia and listen to the call for more teaching in preaching.

I live in NZ and listen to the infatuation with all the implications of the global village. I work in Asia and listen to how wonderful it would be if the global village led to a single village church.

Yes, Yes, Yes ... I know this is a dreadfully generalised account of the way things are. But what cannot be denied is that it is the fullness of the gospel - expressed in the transformed and transforming life of the glocal church - which is the hope of both NZ and Asia.

nice chatting

Paul

6 comments:

Andrew Butcher said...

Amen! Amen! Amen! As one who also travels to Asia regularly, who interacts it with it frequently in other ways and who has it has part of my family 'DNA', what you wrote strongly resonated with me. I wish, so deeply, that the church in NZ would look more at the church in Asia - and be encouraged, be challenged, be provoked, be prayerful, be glad and praise God. And, more than that, put aside the relatively petty things that distract us here and enhance our view so we can see the 'holy catholic and apostolic church' that is wide and deep and the work of God that calls us all to see the 'bigness' and greatness and majesty of God.

Mark Maffey said...

I think one of the things lacking in the Western Church is "devotion" Acts 2v42They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.The Church in NZ is neither hungry and thirsty enough, not devoted to teaching and fellowship, spending time together, praying etc. We are to busy doing things, too Martha like,we need to choose the better thing.

Isaiah 55 vs. 1-2 – Come to me my people

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to me all you who have no money,
Come buy and eat! Come; buy wine and milk without money and without cost
Are you hungry, my word to you is rich, eat of it, it is better than honey
The world in which you live is full of deception, lies, people are desperately lost
They are searching for answers, seeking in wrong places, that is not funny
They search on the web, they buy that has no value, and the rubbish arrives in the post
They desire for more, to keep up with the Jones, they put on a face that is sunny
I say to you forget these things, look to me, I give you far more without cost

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labour on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.
You face so many options, so many choices, advertisers try to sell you enhanced beauty
I gave my only son that you might not perish but have eternal life, that’s beyond compare
Yet you struggle to understand that it’s a gift for you, come to me is my entreaty
Come, seek my face, my goodness, and as you do my perfect love will cast out all your fear


Mark Maffey,July 2007©
(NIV)
http://maffster.blogtown.co.nz/

Paul Long said...

Many thought provoking words. Thanks
Just responding to one ....

"I work in Asia and listen to how theological education is leadership development."

I am wondering - it seems to me from my limited perspective that NZ pastors in general seem to be well qualified in terms of theological education / degrees etc. But I am wondering why this emphasis / importance of theological education does not seem to filter down to the members and lay leadership.

Am I mistaken? Any comments?

In Malaysia (my home country) I see that more and more lay people are very serious about theological education. Some I know probably have a greater breath and depth of knowledge than I do! (Which is a good thing to me)

Anonymous said...

So what can we do?

Paul said...

In terms of implication and application, I am finding that a lot flows from reflecting on what it means for the global church to be a village church in this global village of ours. And we start by imagining that the people across the world are living next door to us. What would that mean?

I am working on a talk on this topic at the moment. Maybe I'll post a blog on my reflections down the track a bit...

But what do you think?!

Anonymous said...

Live in New Zealand like we are living in Asia. We can do this..btw I am from Asia..