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August 13, 2005


bob c

this section really struck home for me:

For outsiders, the main spiritual task in the inculturation process is letting go -- of superiority, of power, of illusions they understand a culture, of illusions that theirs is the true understanding of Christianity. Only after years of listening, learning, and being evangelized by the context in which they live as strangers and guests might they dare speak out with suggestions for inculturation or with critiques of the context.

there is often a superiority/inferiority that accompanies outsider status, particularly when that outsider status is by choice


but who is in and who out? in a time of such significant cultural transition i find more often than not that the individual residents of our peculiar time and space are transient in relation to their own identity. indeed, my own feelings about church, culture, and the kingdom are typically characterized by powerful ambivalence, and my heart betrays me daily by its fickle affections for this or that new/old ecclesiastical curiosity; yesterday i was post-modern, today i am modern. i am an "insider" on tuesday and an "outsider" on wednesday - sunday i am niether, i am just a pastor.

i think i found this post striking because lately i find my most reliable sentiment is simply rejection of anyone who exhibits an attitude of exclusive superiority (including those i'm most inclined to agree with), and quite frankly i think if we were honest with ourselves we would have to admit that much of the rejection of the "emergent church" today is fueled by a visceral response to the adolescent spirit of superiority often displayed by those of us who are fond of smugly calling ourselves "incarnational." having spent several years as a youth pastor, and even more time as a father, i can testify from experience that "letting go" is very good advice, not just for the parents, but for the adolescent as well, who are frequently guilty of holding on just long enough to inflict parting shots on their way out the door.

Ryan Bolger

Jason, I don't know if you misunderstood me -- I'm not talking about attitudes of superiority -- of course that is never appropriate. I'm saying that if we seek to minister in a culture that is not our own, we either need to be a humble listener, often for years, or support those who are native to the culture. I agree that there is alot of flux in culture, but I think we can draw distinctions between groups of people and their practices...

Ryan Bolger

Jason, I'm writing again because I think I may have misread you...
Were you simply being reflective, saying that all of us need to be careful about attitudes of superiority?

Then I agree and say amen...

The first time I read you I thought you were saying that one's culture is almost impossible to pin down, so what's the point? That you were saying that it is primarily emerging church people who need to think about attitudes of superiority...

I think what I was trying to say in my response is that the point of the post was a missional one -- encouraging church leaders to be honest about one's own cultural understanding...


yes, that's exactly what i was saying, in fact, i was feeling fairly self-critical. comments here aren't typically reflective, so it probably seemed a bit out of the normal context, perhaps even a bit overly-private. sorry for that. anyway, i really enjoyed and agreed with the post, so, thanks ryan! you always put very thought provoking stuff here, keep it up!

Ryan Bolger

Thanks Jason for clearing things up for me -- Now that I read it again, I think, why was that difficult?? I read it at the end of a very long day...thanks for the grace...

cigarettes online

thanks. it is really helpful to understand the difference and similarity between missional church and emerging church.
as i am a pastor in Japan, i think ideas of emerging churches fit better than, so called, church growth how-to-techniques.

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  • Hi, welcome to my former blog! My name is Ryan Bolger, and this is where I posted my thoughts on Jesus, culture, new forms of community, among other things. Come visit me at my new blog: http://www.ryanbolger.com. I still teach at Fuller Seminary in Southern California where I'm doing some writing as well. Feel free to bounce around the new or old website -- I hope it might stir your imagination -- feel free to stir mine as well by leaving some comments, preferably at the new site... Peace...


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