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Embracing The World

Sunday, May 4, 2008

I Just finished reading Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson’s book, The Externally Focused Church.

Very encouraging. And very troubling. I was especially encouraged by the way some Churches are investing themselves in making the schools, communities, and neighborhoods in which they’re located better places to live. In one example, several churches in town got together and sent thousands of volunteers into the public schools to rebuild playgrounds, landscape entryways, lay carpet, construct hundreds of much needed cabinets, and paint hallways and classrooms—without being solicited. One fourth-grade teacher stood watching, amazed at the work being done on her classroom by complete strangers and said, “If this is Christianity, then I’m interested.” Actually, it’s always been who Christians are. Second century Christian writer, Tertullian, wrote,

“[Do we not] dwell beside you, sharing your way of life, your dress, your habits and the same needs of life? We are no Brahmins or India gymnosophists, dwelling in woods and exiled from life… We stay beside you in this world, making use of the forum, the provision-market, the bath, the booth, the workshop, the inn, the weekly market, and all other places of commerce. We sail with you, fight at your side, till the soil with you, and traffic with you; we likewise join our technical skill to that of others, and make our works public property for your use.” What’s troubling is that many Christian churches in the U.S. are still holding onto a “refuge” theology, trying desperately to stay safe inside the walls of the church building, while keeping the “world” safely outside. Someone needs to forward them Tertullian's Memo from the 2nd Century.


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