Sunday, May 09, 2010

A Place of Discovery

Although a person works in another culture, the approaches he or she uses to share the Gospel can provide insights for doing the same in our own culture. Those insights may even have a personal application. In a recent discussion with friends who live in Southeast Asia, they used a phrase that caught my attention—“community as a place of discovery.”

They talked about their attempts to provide a place where indigenous believers can ask questions without fear of criticism or ridicule. Although the questions may come from their study of the Bible, very often they deal with concerns about living out their faith within their culture. How can they be believers but still be responsible and participating members of their larger community? What do they have to give up in order to follow Christ? What are the “hard sayings” of the gospel that are a stumbling block for them?

This challenged me with the questions, “Where is my place of discovery? Where can I be honest about my own struggles to be an authentic follower of Jesus Christ?” Unfortunately, we do not necessarily find that “place of discovery” within most churches. The concern there is more often for uniformity and acquiescence rather than the discovery that comes from honest questions.

I was simultaneously pleased and concerned several years ago by the comment made by a member of a Sunday school class that I was leading. A regular member said, “There is really very little relationship between what we talk about here on Sunday and what I do on Monday morning.” I was concerned about our failure to deal with issues that really mattered to that class member, but I was pleased that he felt that he could make that kind of honest statement in our class without being censured.

So where is your “place of discovery”? Have you been able to find a community—even a small one—where you can honestly deal with your doubts and concerns? I am pleased to be part of a couple of groups that embrace this level of transparency, and I am thankful for them. I hope you can fine one, too.

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