By Sandy Troyan, MA Senior in Children, Youth and Family Ministry at Luther Seminary
Edited & posted by Keith Long, MDiv Senior concentrating in Children, Youth and Family Ministry and Congregational Leadership and Mission at Luther Seminary
The conversation is alive, yet holds two dominate perspectives:
1. I am aware that the world around me is different. Things look different. People are different. And the very nature of our wants and needs are much different.
2. I am aware of the world around me. This is the way things have always been. The people are like I always remember. And the very nature of my wants and needs seem to be never changing.
These two voices are present and hold authority in the world around us.
The divide has been created, recognized and is in need of acceptance and understanding. These two perspectives approach the world in unique ways. There are two separate languages being used. Things are defined differently and without an understanding of the other.
This is where we began as we spent two days in November 2011 at Luther Seminary’s Missional Church Consultation looking at all of these voices, languages and perspectives from the viewpoint of the church.
As participants at the Missional Church Consultation, we came hungry and hopeful for a new approach to being the church standing amidst the intersection of the world as we know it now and the constant changes affecting that world. We engaged the conversation - not as aliens, not as immigrants, and not as natives - but as the church. We needed to be reminded that the changing voices around us are not a figment of our imagination.
And so we moved forward, searching for answers to questions like: what must change? How can we return to what we used to know? How do we enter the conversation with hope?
Hope: Called to a new community
Ryan Bolger, Associate Professor of Church in Contemporary Culture in the School of Intercultural Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, brought a voice to the conversation by calling us to a new community.
Bolger’s presentation at the Consultation stated that because of our technological capabilities, ‘place’ is weakening while space, on the other hand, is dominant. One can share space with individuals without place. Bolger challenged us to take this idea with us when we think of the church. What would it mean to be a church of ‘flows’? What would it look like to be a people of God that is beyond place?
A Searching People
To be the modern church is to embrace, not abandon, the rapidly changing culture which technology is shaping. We are an active gathering of disciples, called and sent to be the incarnational God of Love in a world where people are continually on the move, searching. And this is world of searching is often conducted through a screen, with identity being formed without eye contact or face to face interaction with one another. We are a searching culture.
I am led to believe that we are also searching for the kind of community where all people are heard. From the sixteen year old who only understands the world through the relationships she has via her cell phone to the retired school teacher who often feels like the world around her is being transformed - this is the space that we are creating. Imagine now a church of flows which exists to create space for both of these individuals...