Monday, August 10, 2009

Tools for change

Every time I read a book like this the overwhelming question is, "What do I do with this? How do I need to change? Now what?"

What do we do with a book like this? Do we put it on the shelf and dust it off 5-10 years from now and say, "That was a great book!" or can we use it as an agent for change to better align ourselves with what the scriptures say and what God requires of us? How can we use this to better reflect the God we serve?

The only way books like this will change us is for people, particularly groups of people working with children, to examine our own thoughts and attitudes in light of the thoughts and ideas we find in the scriptures. Hopefully, we change how we think and ultimately how we act to better reflect Godly, Christ-like, scriptural attitudes, and understanding. Books like this deserve groups of parents, seminar students, ministry professionals, and caring community members taking 18 chapters worth of time to read, ponder, and talk about the thoughts, ideas, and implications that these authors share. Especially if you have a thinking, reading community. Some of it is dense reading but most of it is pretty straightforward. Hey! Jenny leaves to go back to school today and I've finished the book!

One person is one person. One person is only the beginning. It takes wise leadership and it takes one community after another to change church society and culture and ultimately the larger community. Social gospel, social change? Maybe, but if it better reflects the nature of God and as a result more people turn to Him, isn't that a good thing? Which comes first, individuals changing or changes in administration/leadership? We serve a God who requires us to do, not just know - as individuals and as organizations. Whether or not we know and what we know is reflected in the choices we make and in our actions.

I think that when we see our attitudes and actions in conflict with the scriptures either as individuals or as an institution and we try to express or explain the things we need to change to someone else, one of the biggest challenges is not just convincing others but using language that cuts through the understandings and perceptions that put our listeners on the defensive, language that cuts through all the understandings that keep them from hearing.

I can read through this book (or the scriptures) and say, why is this so different from what I already know or what I'm already doing? Or I can read through this and see very distinct differences. Maybe some of it is timing and the work of the Holy Spirit but in 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 Paul talks about words. This whole post-modern generation (maybe every generation) struggles with definitions - language- to show differences, neccessary changes in our cultural thinking to hopefully better reflect the God we serve. At the same time we use care with our language when we want to focus, not on the differences, but on the faith we share.

Solomon tells us there is nothing new under the sun so maybe it's not trying to unveil something new but to keep returning to something very very old and helping people see and hear Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through His Word.

May Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be glorified generation after generation and give us grace and wisdom to hear His Word and do His will.

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