Church in Mission (Friday) – Day 5

In Friday’s class, the most interesting part was discussing with our group the different traditions we all come from. In our group, there is one Baptist, one Korean Reformed, and one Taiwanese Presbyterian. I just found it so intriguing to get real life stories. It’s one thing to read about differences in a book; it’s another to actually see and hear from them. The other interesting thing was how institutionalized and structured (eh, legalistic?) the Church became throughout the first 300 years. What started as a wild, revolutionary community of followers became a structured, tamed group. However, it needs to be mentioned that Christian followers went from 10,000 in 100 A.D., to 6,000,000 in 300 A.D.


The New Conspirators by Tom Sine – Book Review


In The New Conspirators by Tom Sine, he introduces his book by explaining how we are traveling in turbulent times. While we face much uncertainty in the economy and the world, as Gandalf says, “We are responsible for the time that is given to us.” God has chosen to change the world through the lowly, ordinary, insignificant, and the “mustard seeds.” The new mission is outwardly-focused and the creativity and imagination is swelling the movement. Most of the time, the acts are really, really small.

Conversation #1: In this chapter, Sine outlines the four streams that are focused on “living more simply that others might simply live.” The Emerging Stream is characterized by viewing the Gospel as a story and narrative. They seek innovative ways to engage people in a singular culture. They are generally experiential, artistic, and focus on ancient and future worship. Those in the Emerging Stream are focused a more authentic, holistic faith expressed through mission. Most importantly, they are relational, organic, and communal with no hierarchy of leaders. I love all these aspects. Those in the Missional Stream are focused singularly on advancing the mission. Those in the Mosaic Stream are generally multi-ethnic and multi-cultural and diversity is a focus. Those in the Monastic Stream are focused intently on being disciples and living the Church seven days a week. Personally, I pray for an increased desire to engage more like the Mosaic Stream. I believe we need to see Church communities become more diverse. Monasticism is tough to swallow for me as well because of the near-legalistic ideal for life.

Conversation #2: I believe Craig Detweiler says it well that we need to develop a “Purple State of Mind” – that is, we need to not be Church or Culture, but an engaging mixture of both. We are facing a tough road ahead, however, because the “majority world” lives in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Globalization leads to dissolving borders and a decrease in the United States power. There is a widening gap between rich and poor and the Imperial Mall is having a negative impact worldwide.

“Coming Home to the Good Life.” Church and Culture live in paradox. Many Christians succumb to two incorrect views of living: One, we believe we should “get a piece of the rock” when the going is good, and two, we wait for souls to get rescued when things go bad. Like Sine writes, I am passionate about this subject – we must take back our imaginations from the Global Mall and redefine the good life. We NEED subversive imagery and new stories. We are bombarded with imagery and messages of “buy this and feel this.” The good life has been largely defined by the Mall and not Jesus.

Conversation #3: We need to subscribe to a different eschatology – the “final home” is already here. We need a Kingdom focus and social transformation, not solely an interest in heaven. This is the Kingdom concept we talked about in class. This is for the here and now. Jesus, in his resurrection, transformed the world spiritually, economically, and politically. This is directly counter-cultural to Caesar’s Kingdom. God is at work and we need to join Him.

Conversation #4: We need to start seriously diagramming 10-year forecasts on culture, human need, and the economic base. The US is traveling together on a “ship of fools.” We are borrowing extensively against the future. The numbers regarding the greenhouse gases and the poor was horrifying for me. I can’t believe how wide the gap is between the rich and the poor. It makes me sick. We must preach generous lives. It’s not about becoming poor as much as it’s about becoming more generous. We have way more stuff, but we’re way less happy. The numbers are staggering. Clearly, we are sick. It’s a rat race, evidenced by people working two jobs and 12.7% of America living in poverty. We need churches to step up and increase the quality of life and education. The US spends $450 billion on military and $15 billion on the poor. We have trapped third-world countries in debt they’ll never recover from. We exploit the poor so the rich can get richer. I’m sick. Enough said. “Endangered Church” was another eye-opening chapter. We are dancing the old steps and losing those under 40 like we’ve never seen. We need to create less expensive and top-heavy organization.

Conversation #5: Communities need to imagine new ways of living and address tomorrow’s challenges. We need to live stories in ancient faith and modern culture. We need to seriously reinvent the American Dream and experience transformation of cultural values.

I love the concept of taking a Spiritual Retreat to re-discover how God wants to use our lives in this Conspiracy. In terms of stewardship, we need to ask “how much is enough?” We have been convinced that the economy will continue to grow endlessly. It won’t. We must increase our missional hearts and giving. We must give our lives over to the youth and let their imaginations soar. We must give them ownership to make a difference and launch new ministries.

Overall, this book was sorrowful and challenging. The challenges are incredibly steep and it’s hard to believe we need to simply start something “really, really small.” But what else can we do? Sine writes a challenging, accessible, and well-thought out book. I loved it and highly recommend it for anyone looking for a greater look into the challenges our world faces.