Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What I learned at college yesterday

I had the opportunity to attend chapel at Anderson University yesterday morning. Brian McLaren was the speaker. It was a packed house, and one thing I kept thinking while hanging out was... I think it would be really fun to be a campus pastor or work on a college campus. But I don't, so... here was the morning yesterday...

I was a bit disappointed at first, because McLaren's talk was basically an outline of his book 'The Story We Find Ourselves In.' And I've already read that book a couple of times, so I didn't hear anything new. To be honest, Brian is not the most engaging speaker either. It's the content of his message that holds you, and when it's an old message...

But as he talked, he reminded me how much I liked this book. And THAT reminded me that I must have loaned my book out to someone and they never returned it. Dang. I guess I'll have to buy another one, because this is a great book, but my old one already had notes and pages turned and whatnot... whatever. It was the second in Brian's trilogy (after 'A New Kind of Christian'). ANKOC was really life-changing for me. I actually cried on the very first page. It was like somebody reached in and physically touched my heart. Like somebody actually KNEW me. Life changing - though it probably helped that the pastors name was Dan. Anyway, this book followed that up, though not quite on the personal level as the first.

So... the bulk of the talk (and book) centered around the fact that we are all a part of stories. We are in the midst of our own, but ultimately we all fit into God's story. And the breakdown of God's story - the story of the Bible - is as such...

Creation - Genesis 1
Crisis - sin
Calling - Abram sent; blessed to be a blessing
Conversation - Prophets, poets, etc
Christ - created a new story
Community - ministry of reconciliation
Consumation/Celebration - how it ends up/should be

I like how Brian points out that the church is about much more than just mission. And this is where I have a problem with the whole "missional" conversation. Because it's more than that. Brian says it's about...

Faith = spirituality
Hope = mission
Love = community

I tend to think this gives a more balanced view of what it means to be a follower of Jesus; a part of the church. I'm just not sold when people talk about being Christians but not a part of the church. Or when people say it's all about what we "do." I believe we need all three.

I wish I had my book, but just going from memory... I also like how Brian talks about the goal or point of the story as being a blessing. Abraham wasn't blessed just for himself. God blessed him so he would be a blessing to others. And that continues. The idea is that Christians are not just to bless the Church... but the whole world. That even includes our enemies. Brian said something about how this could play out in politics and world relations... and the place got pretty quiet, I thought.

On a personal note... when he was talking about 'conversation'... it kind of occurred to me that I am maybe more of a poet than a prophet. Whenever I take leadership tests (such as the APEST), I always score high as a prophet - though that's usually not my highest. But Brian talked about how the poets are those in the Bible who basically just wrote, "this is what my life is like" (thinks Psalms). I thought this interesting, because when I first started thinking about going into full-time ministry I was thinking more along the lines of a Rich Mullins or Steven Curtis Chapman. Now, I'm not a songwriter, but maybe my blogging is somewhat poetic. Not that I rhyme, but it is very much, "this is my life... me and my cussing and my depression and my struggles with God and humanity and everything. Here I am God."

I dunno. It kinda made me feel good. Because I tend to struggle with the prophet stuff; the telling people where they're wrong. I don't like doing that. Even though I know I have a bit of it in me. But I'm much too concerned about being liked, and being a poet kind of fits better with that.

Well, I had a super swell time yesterday. Got to sit with lots of cool people. It was a nice day for a drive. Brian is there for a couple of days - it's spiritual emphasis week - so Lady Jane and I are thinking of possibly taking in an evening chapel. Unfortunately son Isaac is in prison tonight.

Peace out, peeps; and in.