Friday, January 30, 2009

Pre-, Post-; Is There Another Option?

Don't panic! This is not about millennial theology. I continue to be of the school that believes that God knows all there is to know about that, and that we don't need to know much beyond "The kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our Lord of the Christ," although sometimes, like everybody else, I wish I knew more.
The pre- and post- things I'm thinking about today are of a different sort. Those are terms we use to set ourselves in some kind of history. I'm part of that big post-war, Baby-boomer generation that has caused our culture grief at every stage of our lives (and will continue to as we age and retire!). I grew up in a pre-cellphone, pre-internet world and wonder how we did it.
These days we talk about more post-things than pre- ones. Postmodernism has now morphed into post-Christian. What that means, I think, is that while we in the Church weren't paying attention, many people stopped paying much attention to us. The new administration in Washington tells us that we're living in post-racial and post-partisan times. I'm not holding my breath for either one of those.
My problem with all this is that we keep thinking about the present and the future in terms of what we've experienced. We measure what we can't know by what we think we do.
I don't know, of course, what the future holds anymore than anyone else does. As a new church pastor, I might think about that more than someone else. I'm looking forward to seeing what our new congregation develops into, but I caution our leaders all the time to be careful about bringing too many expectations from previous experiences to our work. I have my own ideas about what a church looks like, and everyone else has ideas about that, too. We all bring those expectations to this work. Some of them are helpful, and some of them are not. For the first time in my life, I'm part of a church without a Sunday School. But that doesn't mean that meaningful, purposeful Bible study doesn't happen here. Our Tuesday Kerygma groups have struggled with the Sermon on the Mount in ways that have challenged us all. Our PW group is serious about its study of Luke's Gospel this week. Our children gather with people who care about them during a portion of the worship service every week to work on the same ideas we're talking about on the other side of the wall. They also meet for special events occasionaly to play and sing and learn together. Now we have a group of young adults looking for a regular time and resource that will help them figure out what Scripture says to them and their world and a group of young adult women in particular who want to get together to talk about how their faith informs and enriches their roles and women, wives, moms, and all the other things they are. Who knows what else people are thinking about that they haven't shared with me yet? All of that adds us to Church that looks different than anything most of us have ever seen, but Church that comes from peoples' perceptions of God's call in their lives. If that makes us post-traditional or post-Sunday School, I guess that's OK.
What I think it really means, though, is that we are learning to trust God's vision for our lives and for our church. I'm not altogether sure what that vision is, but when some of us begin to see and hear the same things, we figure God might be leading us, and so we follow. I'm trying to be very careful to avoid the pre- and post- labels for what we're doing. I'm trying to tell myslef so I can assure others that what we're doing is trying to figure out where God is in our midst and trying to stay there until God calls us to be somewhere else. I'll let you know how it goes!

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