Archive for January, 2007

Reflection for Monday Week 5

January 31, 2007

I really enjoyed the presentations and looking at all the different movements. The Ecumenical Movement was really encouraging in looking at the unity and bridging Christians together. I found it surprising how fluidly it works. I thought it was interesting to see that in each denomination, generalizations were made and then someone in the class was say how their church is not like that.

Wednesday Review for Week 4

January 29, 2007

It was refreshing to have more of a lecture set up. The discussion led by Bolger on the 3 concepts of the kingdom of God should enrich our small group discussions. This understanding helped me to put kingdom principles into a cultural context. The book “Churches that Make a Difference” is the first text that I have really enjoyed so far in this class.

“Book Review.” Sider, Olson and Unruh. “Churches that Make a Difference.” 2002. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

January 29, 2007

The thesis of this books is best summed up by the paragraph at the end of the introduction: any churches have seized this great timing in history to begin the journey in holistic ministry that will draw millions to personal faith in Christ, restore broken people to wholeness, and renew entire neighborhoods and societies.

Ronald Sider, most well-known for his books Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and Just Generosity, is president of Evangelicals for Social Action (ESA) and a professor of theology at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary .

Philip Olson is vice president of church relations at ESA and the director of Network 9:35.

Heidi Unruh is associate director of the Congregations, Communities, and Leadership Development Project at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

This book’s key themes revolved around reconciling evangelism and discipleship with social action. By looking at key churches that have developed this holistic approach in the Philadelphia area, the authors have portrayed a great hope and success through incarnational ministry.

By combining individual discipleship, with community development, and a passion for structural change, great transformation is given the perfect environment Great specific examples are given of how the church can be an effective agent for change in its neighborhood. I enjoyed the examples of how the church needs to get outside its own walls. Chapter 6 discusses doing VBS in homes in the neighborhood, inviting kids from a homeless shelter to go along on a church retreat or ski trip, or holding parenting classes and inviting people from the local YMCA.

So much of what churches do today is inner-focused. The whole concept of these holistic approaches to ministry are so refreshing, and seem so much like what Jesus had in mind.

I have been having a lot of qualms with my case study. I am addressing the issues of relationship issues between the employees and homeless guests at a local Skid Row homeless shelter. The more I delve into this issue, the more I begin to think this was not Jesus’ idea. All these programs and institutions (even if labeled “Christian”) seem to lose something in the translation from ministry or mission to program. They get bogged down in paperwork, red tape, and burn out. While great things are being accomplished, I feel there must be a better way.

For the past few years I have found it hard to reconcile evangelism with social justice. Churches, non profits and missions seem to pick and choose and one is lost in the shuffle. Yet, this book is able to reconcile the two and prove that this reconciliation may perhaps be the only way for real transformation to occur. I am given a new way to think and a new way to approach the idea of urban mission. This model makes sense, and it seems to bridge the gap between “the helper” and “the helped.”I can really see the idea of Lohfink’s contrast-society present here.

My passion for urban issues such as poverty and homelessness began during my semesters in Philadelphia studying at Messiah College Philly Campus (MCPC) and Temple University. The city holds a special love in my heart. I was excited and personally inspired to see the great work that God is doing to expand his Kingdom in this great city of brotherly love.

Reflection for Monday Week 4

January 24, 2007

I really enjoyed writing and discussing the narratives. I think it brought to life a new dimension of Jesus’ ministry and how it fits into our modern day context. My case study is on reconciling the employees at the homeless shelter with the homeless, making it more of a body of Christ instead of an “us” and “them” situation. I found it hard to find where Jesus would be. While it was easy to visualize him in relational roles, where would he be in the office setting? What does his ministry look like as he sits in a cubicle doing development work or writing grants to keep the shelter running?

“Book Review.” Karkkainen, Veli-Matti. “An Introduction to Ecclesiology.” 2002. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic.

January 23, 2007

Veli-Matti Karkkainen is from Finland and is currently a Fuller professor who teachers systematic theology. He has also published several articles in international theology journals as well as several books. His more well-known works include An Introduction to the Theology of Religions and Pneumatology: The Holy Spirit in Ecumenical, International, and Contextual Perspective.

The thesis of this book is to present an analysis on comparative and contextual theologies, which have become more prevalent due to the ecumenical movements.

Karkkainen breaks it up into three sections. The first section is a discussion of ecclesiology traditions. It takes a look at the Eastern Orthodox Religion, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Free Church, Pentecostal and Charismatic, and finally, the Ecumenical Movement.

Part Two explores some of the leading contemporary ecclesiologists including: J. Zizioulas, H. Kung, W. Pannenberg, J. Moltmann, M. Volf, J. McClendon Jr. and Leslie Newbigin.

Finally, the third portion delves into the global realms of ecclesiology through contextual ecclesiologies: The Non-Church Movement in Asia, Base Ecclesial Communities in Latin America, The Feminist Church, African Independent Churches (AICs), The Shepherding Movement’s Renewal Ecclesiology, “A World Church” and Post-Christian Church as “Another City.”

While this book was an in-depth experience in looking at different churches and traditions, I found it difficult to apply to my own mission in the inner city. Certain aspects jumped out at me (mostly in the third section) such as the church’s role to call for justice, or the church as a gathered people, or community, all seemed fitting for inner city ministry.

As a whole, while informative, I did not find this reading particularly applicable. I am sure that this knowledge is helpful to get a larger grasp around the whole issue of the church and its role, especially in the world, so in that way it was beneficial.

I found our first two books which explored contrast society and the Kingdom concepts much more specific to my particular context of mission.

Reflection for Wednesday Week 3

January 22, 2007

I don’t want to continue to complain about the class format, but I don’t think this is my learning style. It seems like the majority of the class is just talking with our peers about ideas that they we both know minimally about. While there is a time and place for this format, I would like to hear more lecture from an expert. Prof. Bolger did seem to be more engaged in our discussion time on Wednesday, but I hope he throws in a few lectures.

Reflection for Wednesday Week 2

January 15, 2007

I am still finding the format difficult to adjust to. While, I enjoyed Lohfink’s book, and I enjoyed our discussion time, I do want to hear more lecture to better grapple with the material. Hearing other students discuss their own opinions and reactions only goes so far as a teaching method.

“Book Review.” Fuellenbach, John. Church: Community for the Kingdom. 2006. NY, NY: Orbis Books, MaryKnoll.

January 15, 2007

John Fuellenbach, SVD, is a writer and professor. He teaches theology classes in Rome at the Gregorian. He has also taught in places like the Philippines, as well as being an international lecturer. He is most known for his work on the book, The Kingdom of God.

The thesis is the Church’s mission to the world is reflected through a worshiping community, communion, and as its members reflect the values of the Kingdom.

This book is split into two main sections. The first half is basically describing the church and its correlation to Vatican II. The second half looks at world church and the different models of churches and how they are functioning in response to cultural differences.

There was very little that stood out to me in the first half, while it was nominally interesting, I found it hard to intersect my own ideas of mission with Fuellenbach’s theories. One portion that stood out talked about the integration of faith and service and that just like Israel, we were chosen for a purpose, to play a role in God’s mission, and not for our personal gain. Fuellenbach believes that biblical election and service are intertwined (:42).

Another crucial moment in the first half discussed the idea of an egalitarian community. The idea is that from the beginning stages of the Christian community, God intended for it to be free from patriarchal power and dominance. Instead it should be a community of brothers and sisters, full of love and compassion, fighting injustice wherever it is exists (:47).

The second half of the book was more engaging. The concept of the world church and the ideas surround inculturation and contextualization were very fitting to my own experiences with mission. What was best marked was the thread of the theme of poverty that ran throughout this section. I like that globalization was addressed and how it appears that as globalization continues, so does the increase in worldwide poverty and wars, instead of unity and community amongst the churches and citizens of the world (:168).

I the second half compelling and even more in interesting were the models of churches that have worked in places like Asia. The poor continue to be exploited, and the passage begs for the church to look differently in order to make an impact. The reference to Lohfink’s contrast-society was very fitting and cleared up certain questions that arose in the first book.

As a whole, the reading was very helpful. The tangible models were very much needed as an illustration for the church in the world to look differently.

I do wish that the book went deeper into some of the concepts of contextualizing in different cultures and more of what that looks like in the specific models addressed.

Monday Reflection for Week 2

January 10, 2007

I enjoyed the free forum for discussion and decision-making on class scheduling and structure. The group-formation and discussion was fruitful and helpful for the early stages of planning for our final project. It did seem hard to formulate the case study for our final project in such early stages of the class. While, I am excited about this innovative class structure, I look forward to hearing more from Bolger on insights and lectures in connection to the text.

Wednesday Reflection for Week 1

January 8, 2007

Wednesday’s class was obviously introductory. I enjoyed the teaching method and the integration of each student’s personality and individualism through the questionnaire. The beginning introductory lecture of Bolger’s personal history struck a chord of some of my own struggles in finding passion and direction. I do have questions on how the church is to engage culture and how to begin transformation while crossing over sociological boundaries. It seems like this course may address many of these question relating to mission in culture. I am eager to learn more and to see what other questions will be sparked as this course and my learning continue to develop this quarter.