“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"You feed them" moments

My friends, Mark, Rick and George are all reading Andy Crouch's Culture Making (2008, IVP) together. In the first section of the book there was a series of comments that I want to string together here regarding the changing of a culture. For my purposes, I am thinking about the Christian church in general, and my church specifically in regards to issues of disability. Crouch writes the following...
So if we seek to change culture, we will have to create something new, something that will persuade our neighbors to set aside some existing set of cultural goods for our new proposal. And note well that there are a number of other possible strategies, none of which, by themselves, will have any effect on culture at all (p. 67).
Creativity is the only viable source of change (p. 73).

And finally...
So underneath almost every act of culture making we find countless small acts of culture keeping. That is why the good screenwriter has first watched a thousand movies; why the surgeon who pioneers a new technique has first performed a thousand routine surgeries; and why the investor who provides funds to the nest startup has first studied a thousand balance sheets. Cultural creativity requires cultural maturity. Someday my own children will undoubtedly cook me a wonderful meal-but by that time, they will also have learned to lvoe chili. With any luck, they will be both culture keepers and culture makers- both cultivators and creators. And then they will be prepared to both conserve culture at its best and change it for the better by offering the world something new (p. 77).

I think that is what we are actually up to here. We are in the process of creating something truly new for the church that we are hoping they will move toward and use to replace what they are currently doing. It must be something highly creative. But it is built out of a history of experience within the church. It recognizes the things that the church is doing that are working well and celebrates them. However, it also builds the creative new thing as a replacement. Something that once demonstrated, would be embraced as an alternative. In the end, vestiges of the old would remain, however, it is the creative new that most are doing.

I think we see this today in the embracing of various technologies being used within worship services. Yes there are churches who still use hymnbooks. But the creative that people are moving toward is the projection of the lyrics with the video moving behind them.

In the realm of disability, I honestly thing that there is an alternative to the way we do religious education. I am writing about this at the moment. We need to change our terms for even describing what we are up to from religious education to faith development. The implications of the two terms are vastly different. The move to faith development would also move us in the direction of programs that would include people with various disabilities. You see the focus is not "education" in the sense of public school education, but something different (I would say, something better) that would have knowledge delivery as a part of the package but something of which knowledge was only a very small part. Come to think of it, we see that a lot in the way that Jesus develops the disciples. He definitely teaches them things, gives them information, but then he demonstrates things in his interactions with others, and even gives the disciples assignments as a way to grow their faith. Its the, "You feed them" moment. Faith development programs which included people with disabilities would have LOTS of "You feed them" moments both designed to be such, and growing out of the typical activities of live that come from following Jesus.

I am in the process of trying to flesh out what that would actually look like. How would religious education change to be faith development with "You feed them" moments. I actually think that once we get our minds around this notion programatically, it would, to use Crouch's words, be creative, something new that would cause people to put aside some of the existing cultural goods, and both conserve culture and change it for the better.



Anonymous said...

You are so right on target! I have been thinking about this for a while. I am now going to read that book you mention as well. I work as an "early intervention" teacher. While early support for young children with special needs can be important and good, what is often forgotten is that development also needs to be supported when it is in the spiritual area. Not only for children with special needs, but for all. How often have we forgotten some of our "education", but a major developmental milestone in the spiritual realm often changes us and stays with us for a life time.
I like the "feed them moments" approach.

Alicia Greenwalt said...

When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said to her, "Woman, you are freed from your disability." –Luke 13:12 (NIV)
Many churches have decided, whether consciously or not, that disabled people will not be accepted into the congregation. They do it without consulting the Bible. Especially in Jesus’ time of ministry, he never denied any person because of their age, race, physical ability, or even mental ability. Matthew 19:14 says, “Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” John 4:9 says, “The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” Mark 2:10b-11 says, “He said to the paralytic, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.” Mark 5:15 says, “And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had had the legion, sitting there, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid.” Jesus either healed the sick or loved the unloved. Either way, he accepted people and helped make their lives better. This is what the church should be doing. Instead of being like the disciples, we should be finding the people and allowing them to come to Jesus. Thus, I have to agree with your statements. For the church to become like Christ, it must keep the good practices but also adapt to other demographics.

Anonymous said...

I took a discipleship class at CBU and we talked a lot about how Jesus interacted with his disciples. He was all about giving them knowledge, but he sent them out to apply it. I agree with the notion of "you feed them" practices because it puts people out of their comfort zones. I think many people have never had to work with people that have disabilities and so the never put themselves in the situation to try to interact with them. They resort to what they are comfortable with...even if they believed Christ has called them to reach out to the disabled. They key in "you feed them" moments is that Jesus sent the disciples out to work with PEOPLE...in the church culture today, we treat ministry, evangelism and other religious practices as events and quantifiable goals to reach instead of treating people like people. If the church discipled people through "you feed them" approaches in disability ministries, I really believe that God will break people's hearts for those that have disabilities because relationships will be formed and love will be put into practice! When you invest in someone, it changes your life...and this is something our culture in general doesn't understand because we are self-centered. May the church be a different story!

Danielle DelRosario

Anonymous said...

I think that your passion for the disabled and the drive you have to reach them is contagious. Thank you for opening not only my eyes, but the people who are in your classes as well. We are all created in the image of God. There is no partiality. You have taught me what it means to truly believe that. THank you for sharing your passion with us.