This past week I had the privilege of meeting face-to-face for a few days with the new field personnel being commissioned by CBF this summer. It was the 6th week of a 10 week orientation of which the majority of the training occurs online. It was good to meet in person again, discuss what we have been learning and cram our heads with more information.
A particularly significant session for me each year at orientation is the Language and Culture discussion and reflection. This year Rob Nash used a phrase that caught me, “When we are a minority in another cultural context, we begin to understand the extent to which we are a product of our own culture.” That is a significant insight with major implications.
When we think of the interdependence between cultural understanding/identity, leadership and spiritual formation, we cannot help but hope that our growing awareness of how much we are a product of our culture, deeply affects our perspective. It is from this awareness that God continues to orient our lives toward living in the “way” of Jesus (John 4:6). This is in my best estimation a missional orientation. How influential it is to be with these field personnel, a group of people who desire nothing more than to live their lives in a space that continually helps them recognize their limited perspective. Some might call them very naïve. I call them hopeful because God calls us to transformation in Christ. We are naïve if we think that there will be no change in us and the church as a result.
I am reminded of a quote from my favorite author,
“Everywhere I have gone I have heard the same question in one form of another: “We see quite plainly the church as it is, but what should it be like?” If you had it in your power to see that church, as it ought to be, how would it appear? Not the church in the distant future of science fiction but in the foreseeable, possible future, as we move toward the end of the twentieth century and into the third millennium of Christianity. It will be a church come of age, under the direction and control of the unpredictable Spirit. It will be a risen church born anew out of the death of the one we now know. The pilgrimage along the road to that church will not be a serene and painless journey. Before we reach the end of that road to a church re-founded for our age, there will lie a cross, a crucifixion, not for others but for us.” -Vincent J. Donovan, The Church in the Midst of Creation