I am truly delighted to say that our team is now a brotherhood, a close alliance, and though there will always be some divisions in a group, this team can certainly agree on one subject: It’s been a marvelous and blessed week!
Today began with a trip to Longmont, CO (just outside of Boulder) to serve an organization called “Imagine.” The company seeks to serve those with disabilities that leave individuals immobile and in need of help for the basic day-to-day necessities of life, and the organization is connected to The Well through our host this week, Tim Baird. As so, we went to one of Imagine’s “smart homes” to serve today. I was initially surprised when we arrived to find that the “smart home” was pretty simple — a basic, single-story house with a basement. Then we went inside.
It turns out that that the house cost over $3,000,000 with incredible technology for the disabled. It was paid for entirely by donations. Who knew?
The home was brilliantly designed to allow maximum freedom for the residents ranging from smart pads that could operate any technology in the home to cooking and entertainment technologies. Even those could not speak or move below the neck could operate almost anything in the home. The man that we served, Chris, was a Christian who was active in serving the residents of the home and pouring the love of Christ into their lives.
Our duties were fairly simple. A room downstairs was in need of organization, a job that was a challenge for the limited staff at the location, so our team sorted belongings, moved furniture, and reorganized the floor so that all of the residents’ belongings in storage could be easily located. It was indeed a great opportunity!
The other half of the day began with a conversation with the pastor of The Well, Matt Patrick. Matt discussed with us some of the basic necessities of a church plant. The things that we learned were very beneficial, and I think that everyone could benefit from what he had to say.
One of the major points that he made regarded the Gospel. A mission-minded individual has to have a firm grasp of the Gospel. He divided the Gospel into four major categories: (1) Jesus, (2) The Kingdom, (3) Salvation, and (4) Grace. Most topics in Christianity fit into these categories (ie. repentance would fall into “salvation,” serving the Lord in our actions falls into working for “the kingdom,” etc.). If a church or church plant loses the essence and truth of the Gospel, that organization is no different from any other secular organization. The Gospel, he asserted, has to be known by every member and is the key to a church or church plant. As a part of this, it is important to present both the harsh realities of the Gospel and the love of the Gospel. Both are elements of the four major categories and are important for a complete understanding of scripture.
Matt also spent a good deal of time talking about two very large words with very large implications: “disinculturization” and “inculturization.” Fear not: these words are not as complicated as they sound. Disinculturization refers to the separation of oneself from the culture that one is accustomed to. Matt asserted that this is particularly important for church plants. Because church planting usually involves leaving the immediate area of the existing church, the planters have to be willing to leave behind some of the culture that the planters are familiar with. This also requires a new mindset towards the people that the church planters will encounter; the planter should not assume that the people of the target area understand even the basics of the Gospel. Things like books, verses, and chapters of the Bible have to be explained. Words like “salvation” have to be contextualized. Ultimately, disinculturization means starting from scratch in many regards to adequately embrace a new culture.
This embracing is the other half of the equation, inculturization. Inculturization involves equipping oneself for the culture at hand by adapting to the culture. Inculturization comes in a number of forms such as being willing to wear clothes that are common to the area, participating in cultural hobbies (such as climbing or biking in Boulder), and even paying attention to the treatment of nature and ecology to respect the views of the people in the area. Inculturization often involves receiving, rejecting, and redeeming — receiving things that aren’t specifically Gospel-centered for the sake of the Gospel (like watching movies with others), rejecting practices that are condemned in the Bible (like drunkenness), and redeeming practices that are initially unbiblical (such as secular rap music giving rise to Christian rap music). This is modeled in 1 Corinthians 9:20 when Paul writes “To the Jews I became like a Jew to win the Jews.” Upon considering the implications of the Gospel, disinculturization, and inculturization, I can now clearly see some practical ways to serve Fayetteville that embrace this verse.
The day closed after helping with childcare for The Well so that the parents could enjoy a night out (though I hung back to make dinner). Though we are sad to leave Boulder, it has been a remarkable blessing to see the Lord at work in our hearts and in the hearts of those we encountered. I, for one, am very excited to put these things into practice when I return to Fayetteville!
Pray that our drive will be safe, that we will embody what the Lord has taught us this week, and that those whom we shared with would receive the Good News!
Grace and peace,