Last week I was interviewed by my home church about what I'm doing here. I both love and hate these interviews. Of course I love that my home church is concerned and want to know how I'm doing. I love that they take an interest. And of course I love the opportunity to talk about my work. I love my work. Well, some of the time. Anyway.
Evangelicals, I mean, and specifically American ones.
There's been lots of interesting theological thoughts going on in my head recently, but heck, I really am astoundingly busy at the moment. And if I'm honest, a lot of it is due to failure to delegate. More than that, it's that old thing that missionaries say they'll avoid but never manage, making yourself indispensible. So, My Own Damned Fault.
I spoke last night with a missionary from OMF, who has been working on a book on contextualising the church in Japan. At All Nations, and at some of the church planting sessions during missionary orientation, the need for contextualisation was hammered into us as if it were the magic bullet to make church planting work. But over the past couple of years I have become a little more nuanced in how I think about contextualisation. Read more about Contextualisation: No magic bullet
I found myself saying this in our discussion groups after church today:
So I haven't been blogging as much as I'd like to recently because, well, I have no energy. I'm currently hosting a Swiss short-term missionary who is helping out with Nagahama and Maibara, and I guess I feel quite a lot of pressure - self-inflicted of course - particularly in this first week or so, to make sure he is OK and well looked-after and entertained. The downside of this is that I feel I have to be on duty 24/7, not just making sure everything is OK but also making conversation and finding useful and interesting things to do. I am very bad at all of the above, hence the stress.
So this CC Blogs thing provides lot of opportunity for hearing what other vaguely like-minded theologians around the world are doing, and I got caught up the other day in someone's blog post about Luke 4. Now this is something we'd just been doing in JET group, (as well as a pretty fundamental passage for liberation theologians and my first sermon passage here in Japan) so I barrelled in with my own exegesis.
Today I raced down (and back) to Shizuoka, about half way to Tokyo, to meet a man who's working on issues of church growth and the lack of it in Japan. We had a good chat, more of a get-to-know-you thing than any real deep content, but important to do none the less. And now I have come back with a head full of thoughts, which is always good.
I remember reading - I don't remember where - about one of the key questions in Trinitarian missiology is “Who's not here?” Symbolically it pictures the Trinity in a “dance of love”, and while they enjoyed perfect community together, the question “Who's not here?” leads to them reaching out to include humanity. Then the dance expands to include the Israelites, the Gentiles, and so on until all are included. The challenge, then, for the church is to keep on asking “Who's not here?” Which sectors of society are we lacking? What part of the richness of God's creation have we failed to take account of?