Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Lean Back, Kick Forward

Friday and Saturday this week we kick off the Partnership for a Missional Church project. Throughout Skillman's long and rich history missions have played a prominent role. As we enter into this conversation about what it means to be mission-shaped in our community in this place and time, we want to build on our history but not be bound by it. I'm reminded of Leonard Sweet's use of a swing in articulating his image statement:

There is a new theory among physicists about how the swing works. Previous theories revolved around the principle of "parametric instability," which pivoted the action of swinging at the middle of the arc, and the rocking forward into a higher center of gravity. Physicist William Case, while watching how children actually swing, has now posited a new principle which physicists call "driven harmonic oscillator." The key to the swing is not in the middle of the arc, but at each end of the arc, where and when the swingers at the same time lean back and throw their feet forward.
That's my image statement. As a historian of Christianity, I want the church to lean back–not just back to the 50s, but all the way back through 2000 years of history, all the way back until we're, in the words of that Sunday School song, "Leaning, Leaning, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." But at the same time and I do mean simultaneously, we must use that energy and power that comes from "learning to lean" to kick forward into the future and Carpe Manana.

Much has changed in the 50+ years at our current location - people have been born and have died, old friends have moved away and new ones have come, the auditorium has changed color schemes and a new building has been built. But however much change has occurred within our walls, it does not compare to the changes that have occurred in the world around us. Demographic changes, cultural changes, technological changes, world view changes.

I believe that it is inevitable that some of the forms and methods that have served us over the years will have to change in order to communicate with today's community. In the midst of change, though, are some constants - the God we serve, the gospel we proclaim, our mission to make disciples - the media and methods have to adapt, but the message is eternal.

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