A personal introduction is in order for this blogpost: I think that the past two years has been a very long conversion experience, and an ongoing one. It was characterized by a journey into a space where I am no longer the answer for the world, but where I begin to notice how I am embedded in the sins of the world. I you scan through the posts from the past two years, Amahoro possibly being the single most important event in this journey, much of this will be found. It is an ongoing journey, one which I find to be struggling with, but one which are pushing me into a world from which I can never return, and I believe pushing be towards the Jesus whom I have learned to call Messiah.

The phrase “blessed are the poor” (Luke 6) has always been one of those strange moments in the journey with the Bible of the congregations and groups where I’ve spent my life. Luckily Matthew (Matthew 5) gave us an easy cop-out when talking about “blessed are the poor in spirit”, that phrase we knew how to interpret. But it is Luke which continue to push our imaginations. What do we do with the blessed poor?

I can quickly think of two common ways we solve this statement. The first is by projecting onto the poor those things we experience as lacing in our own lives: rest, not worrying, community with others. The second is my spiritualizing poverty so that everyone become poor. Some are poor because they lack meaningful family relations, others because they lack money.

But for Jesus some people were categorized as poor, and some as non-poor, as rich. The poor had little room to manege their own lives, they were oppressed by a system of taxes and the rich taking over their land. But I also don’t get the idea that Jesus is romanticizing poverty. He is not the kind of ascetic who call people into poverty, because of some deeper spiritual meaning. Jesus is a prophet challenging the system of injustice which create the poor. Yet Jesus is the one saying that “blessed are the poor”.

However, when we move away from this passage, then the poor are no longer romanticized nor spiritualized. We are aware of the fact that poverty is a very real problem in our country, and I would say that the dominant approach within the church is that the poor are pitied, and that we want to help the poor. We want to bless the poor. Sometimes we would even talk about blessing the poor with our gifts and help. If we were to stand up and do our own sermon on the plain (what we generally call the part in Luke where this phrase is found), we would probably start with: “Let us participate in the coming of the kingdom of God by blessing those who are poor. Let us bless the poor” (even using nice missional language like participation in the kingdom of God). But would we start our sermon with the words: “Blessed are you, the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God”.

What does this imply? If I understand Belhar correctly, then God is in a unique way present with those who are suffering. Belhar states “… that in a world full of injustice and enmity He is in a special way the God of the destitute, the poor, and the wronged and that He calls his Church to follw Him in this”. In his commentary on this text, Piet Naudé writes: “God does not stand by the poor because they are poor or because – as in a class struggle – he is in a particular way the God of the working class. In God, there is no injustice. God stands with the people who suffer in situations of injustice, because of this in justice. God can do no other. This is how God is.”

What does the the poor being blessed imply in Luke? Not that they have access to the lost ideals of the middle class, but that the kingdom of God is their’s. Maybe we could say that the kingdom of God can be found among those who suffer. I usually explain the “kingdom of God” to youth groups with two statements: First, the kingdom of God is how this world would look if God was king and not the rulers of this world. Second, the kingdom of God is God’s dream for the world, how God dream the world to be. Is it to much to say that among those who suffer in situations of injustice, those who we can call the poor (being more than an economic category, but being those who are placed at the bottom of the system), there we will find God’s dream for how the world should look. There we find the dream of what the world might be if God were to be king and not the rulers of this world.

What would happen if those of us in the rich church exorsise our drive to be the ones who are blessing the poor, and start recognizing the poor as those blessed by God. Those who find themselves in the place where God is to be found, and start listening for the dreams of what the kingdom of God might look like. Obviously we do not enter this space in a naive manner, where the voices of the poor suddenly become some kind of direct link towards the voice of God. The poor have no more direct line to the thoughts of God than the spiritual does, and listening to one lone voice is not hearing the voice of God, just as listening to one lone super-spiritual congregant is hearing the voice of God. But if we dare enter into conversation with those who are poor, with the entirety of this category whom of people we call poor, dare listening to what the poor are dreaming the world to be like, might it not be that we will find among those to whom the kingdom of God belong dreams of what this kingdom might look like? And if we then want to participate in the coming of the kingdom of God, then it might not be through our blessing of the poor, but through the discovery of the blessedness of the poor, and the participation in the coming of the world which the poor are dreaming into being.

A personal conclusion is in order as well: I’m not at this place. I struggle with this. I like to find solutions for poverty rather than listen to the world the poor are dreaming into being. I like to be the hero. But most of all, I’m not sure if I’m ready for the radical dreams the poor are dreaming, I fear that I might not like what I’m hearing. But might it be that these dreams are the coming into being of the kingdom of God? I think I need help struggling through this, so your thoughts will be appreciated.

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Becoming African

January 13, 2011

I had a Hashtag search running in Tweetdeck last week on #African. At it’s height three tweets was generated a minute in the ongoing debate on whether white people can be called African, embedded within the question of what “African” mean, and who is allowed the label. It was started by Sentletse Diakanyo’s statement that “We are not all Africans, black people are!“. The critique against Diakanyo has been fierce, from all across the racial as well as intellectual spectrum in South Africa. The reaction that seems to be considered the most thoughtful is Khaya Dlanga’s “White people are African too!“, at least judging to the ReTweets and discussion in my small sphere of influencers, although, that might be because they are mostly (though not exclusively) white.

A response such as that by Marius Redelinghuys (I do hope I’m not publicly criticizing my wifes family now, although I don’t think he is) in “Africans are humans too” received little more than a yawn from my side. We’ve heard it before (and technically he is completely right): that “under the skin we are all the same” according the geneticists. But genetic arguments stating that we are all the same is just helpful in refuting genetic arguments which state that there is some fundamental difference between different races which give us the ability to rank different races into some kind of hierarchy. Thus, if Marius was responding to right-wing whites attempting to argue for the ultimate superiority of white people, it would have been an helpful argument, but in this case it was less so.

Now Jason van Niekerk’s response “The problems with defining #African” is worth a closer read. Hard words, but he unpacks the complexity of the question. “So where does this leave us? White South Africans can’t insist that they are automatically African, because that undermines the value of a hard-won identity. But when black South Africans deny the possibility of white Africans, they cut off the possibility of a non-racist post-apartheid identity that millions of white people want”. Although I really like Khaya Dlanga’s response, I guess mainly since he solves the problem by just calling me an African like I’d like to be, I have to agree that it’s not that easy.

My own approach would continue previous reflections on space and spaciality, this time using it to define whether we are African in the various spaces we inhabit.

The one problem with Dlanga’s argument is that we then need to start asking questions about African-Americans. Should they be rid of the name African? Continuing simply as Americans? Although this is a debate for my American friends, I’m quite uncomfortable when those of us born on the African continent deny this identity to those who were forcibly removed from this space. The other problem is obviously the fact that we deny those who came to this space to dominate it their colonial roots as well.

But isn’t Diakanyo ultimately doing the same? If only black people (and I guess then all black people) are African, isn’t black voices included which has long left the African space, hasn’t been formed by it any longer, and isn’t indebted to it any longer? My friend Frederick Marais once brilliantly told of a conversation he had with a third generation French speaking ex-slave in France, that hasn’t ever sat foot on the African continent, but denied him the right to call himself African, since he was white. And Frederick’s obvious question: who is more African?

However, the answer is not that obvious. And I guess the debate proof that this is indeed both an important, but also a complicated argument.

Of the arguments quoted above Van Niekerk was the only one who really took account of the social construction of race. So let my give the one-liner history lesson: Race is not fixed in your genetic makeup (thank you Marius, we have that), but was socially constructed through 5 centuries of colonialism. Following Garner and others I’ll say that it starts with the freeing of white slaves in the early colonial era, when suddenly white people had the right to freedom and black people were slaves (before you could be a slave regardless of colour, and a trader in the global economy regardless of colour). Van Niekerk then continues “many white South Africans want to claim an African identity not because they think they deserve it by default, but because they really do care about Africa and Africans”.

But of course, even this somewhat more difficult route to self-redemption is not that easy, since we remain caught within the cushion of white privilege (“like Visa, accepted everywhere” – I’m going to use that one again Jason) described by both Van Niekerk as well as Dlanga (in a later article).

And with this I’ve already touched upon three spaces which I inhabit.

Yes, I was born on the African continent. Like St. Paul, I could go even further in defending my identity. I was not only born here, I was brought up on the African continent. I owe my life to the African continent. I know no other home, and I’ve never been to any other place. But this is just one part of the story.

When we mention white privilege (and the Visa joke might be deeper than you think), then we need to talk about the economic world of which I am part. African economics is colonial and post-colonial economics. African economics is wholly colonized economics. It is the continent which was divided up among various western nations, which fed and became rich and fat by salvaging the African soil, while the people of Africa suffered. But the reality is that this is not the economic space I inhabit. In the economic world in which I move, the mark of the colonizers still rule. Apartheid South Africa was just another white nation, although situated on the Southern-tip of Africa, which colonized the people of the country, in spite of the fact that the government which ruled over them did not sit across the ocean. I owe my Visa, my income, my privilege to the colonizers, not the colonized. I have not struggled for economic freedom, rather, economic freedom was found through fighting, sometimes to death, with my ancestors. White privilege is much more than economic, but that is an important part.

And their is the space of history. And let my call this for the moment (although I do not deny the material reality of history) an intellectual space. In it’s most simple forms it came out in the history classes of our schools. The revolution they taught me about was the French Revolution, the American Revolution, not the African Revolutions. I knew more about that random day when the bunch of Americans through a ship full of tea into the sea to make the English a big cup for tea-time, than I did about Sharpeville. African history was shared only in so far as it could legitimate Apartheid (so we knew about the story of Dingaan murdering Piet Retief, and we knew what savages the tribes of Africa was before the white man came). My thought-space consisted of the story of white South Africans, North America and Europe. It was a version of history written by whites, legitimating white privilege. And as this continue the idea that I am called African remain suspicious.

Fact is that I had to agree with Diakanyo at many points (in spite of the obvious flaws which many pointed out). My biggest difference would obviously be with the idea that it is impossible for white people to be called African. The possibility exist (and, although it is an argument which I don’t feel intellectually fit to make, I believe even be called Black), and denying it throw us into an endless and hopeless future of eternal tension. However, whether this white persons can be called African is not so certain, and is something which white people should be slow to judge. At best, I can say that I am Becoming African.

Being born here was the first step in Becoming African. However, it is an intentional choice, with actions which require hard work, as I focus on recognizing the privilege of being white, and face the difficult questions of what it would mean for those privileged by centuries of colonialism and decades of Apartheid to become part of the economic history of Africa. To become part of the post-colonial reality outside of the bubble in which I live. I an Becoming African as I work intellectually to reinterpret my own history, and focus on history as total, through an African lens. When the events in Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa become that which form my thoughts, more than in which British politics form my thoughts. When the story of Zimbabwe become that of a whole nation under oppression, rather than of only farmers being removed from their farms.

It’s a long journey, Becoming African. Is this not our Long Walk to Freedom? Freedom from our identity as oppressors. I’ll insist that I’m on this journey, but I’ll be slow to state that I’ve completed the journey.

why do we read the Bible?

January 11, 2011

I spent 6 years at University, mainly finding an answer to one question: How do we read the Bible? They sent me through two years of studies in Greek and Hebrew, and I took a third year of elective Greek and Hebrew modules, as well as a few post-graduate modules in . Furthermore, a third of my theological training in the six years was spent in New and Old Testament studies, over all six years. Some of our lecturers have made the calculation on the percentage of the course that was spent on questions concerning the Bible: somewhere around 60%. 60% of six years at an internationally recognized university, focused on the question: How do we read the Bible. But the deeper question which I believe we need to focus on is: Why do we read the Bible. (you can read the story of where I first asked this question here).

With all that time spent teaching students to be able to read the Bible responsibly, you’d expect some excellent exegetes to emerge. And indeed, I think you’d find this to be true, up to a point… They can talk about “context” and “genre”, share some facts about ancient history and values (although I sometimes doubt the ability to put this into a coherent big picture), and are generally quite well versed in the ability to remind a congregation that they have some inside knowledge on the holy book which the congregants do not have. But ask the question “why do we read the Bible?“, and the problems emerge. Those considered the excellent theologians might have an answer ready, but the test comes when we face the diverse voices within Bible, and how we go about consistently interpreting the text.

Was part of Derridian Deconstruction not to notice the inconsistencies in a text? (not a very good Derridian, so do correct me here) And was our Biblical studies for many decades not built upon the search for the “seams” in the texts, the inconsistencies which would help us find the developmental history of a text? But what about the exegete? Should we not look for the inconsistencies within the exegete? And to complicate this even further, I’m not into Biblical studies (although I love reading the works of Biblical scientists), so in all honesty I can’t care less about the consistency of their exegetical methods (although this do seem to contradict the previous statement in parentheses, I find this not to be a contradiction at all), since I work with the assumption that the Bible originated from the community, and need to find meaning within the community. It is the (in)consistency of exegesis, whether by trained theologian or not, within the community which alerts me to the fact that there is something wrong, something not begin said, something behind the reading of the text (not the text itself in this case) which we need to take note of.

This I believe can be found with the question “Why do we read the Bible?“. I fear that many have learned the art of exegesis, but never integrated an answer to this question consistent with their answer to the how question. And then we get the classic example of the many preachers who either skip those parts of the texts which doesn’t support their view, or use these exact same methods pointed to above, but to de-exegize (yes, I just made that one up) that which does not support their view out of the Bible. This I believe is what is found behind the endless usage of the Bible to support this or that claim, most often in contradictory ways (and many times using the same texts on both sides). My idea, quite simply (maybe over-simplified, so do correct me), is that across the theological spectrum the Bible is still read within communities of faith because we answer the why question within something in the line of “the Bible has authority to give answers”.

I’m no psychoanalyst, although I believe they could be helpful in helping us through this, but my following question need to be asked: If I firmly believe that the Bible is the authority, or find myself completely indebted to a community which holds this believe, would I not, even on the level of the unconscious, find ways of getting this text to say exactly what I need it to say to confirm what I am saying myself? Do we not then create a power-relation which make it impossible to construct the Bible as a text which differ from either exegete or community, since our answer to why we read the Bible would then force us to recognize ourselves as unfaithful? (which obviously open up another question as to why this community find it of such utmost importance that I need to be part of the faithful and not the unfaithful, but that is a question for another day)

So my suggestion is that we need to be able to provide a consistent answer as to why we read the Bible, which would also allow a consistent answer as to how we read the Bible (taking into account genre, various books etc, consistent, not the same for every text), but also allow us to honestly and consistently formulate what it really is that we mean when we formulate an opinion. If the honest answer to what we believe imply that our attempt at consistently reading the text (how) bring us to a point that we have to recognize that we do not agree with the text, then we need to be able to answer why we continue reading the text.

Is this possible? I do believe so.

There have always been those in the church (indeed we might be able to argue that the church in its deepest being contain this mark) who reinterpret the text from the point of the Jesus-event. They read the text because this is what bring them to Jesus, and then re-interpret the text from the Jesus point (obviously as they interpreted it, and the above argument can then be made concerning those parts of the text which write about Jesus). Within this group we would then find some examples of quite conservative groups that will easily state that they don’t agree with this or that part of the text, since Jesus came to change it. In other groups, you’d find the argument that the early church changed what Jesus said, and they would therefore differ from some parts of the New Testament. The question of why we choose Jesus can be a theological one (or maybe just a deeply personal one), which I believe precede the question of why we read the Bible.

Another answer which might be providing some form of consistency is to state that we read the Bible because the Bible is the book of the church. Our reasons for connecting to the church and choosing to take the church seriously is again a theological question which I believe might precede the question concerning why we read the Bible. The church has made a choice, and the Bible it the book of the church, and therefore we reflect on the Bible as we continue within the tradition of the church. Working from the assumption that this is the text that we need to read and reflect on, however does not necessarily lead us to the point that we need to agree with everything that we find there because that is our final authority, what it does force us into is that the Bible is our primary interlocutor, discussion partner, if we are to continue within the tradition of the church.

Using one of these, or more probably combining them in some creative way, would provide us with a way of honestly stating what we believe, consistently reading and interpreting the Bible, and hearing the voice of the Bible, differing from it at times, and because we are allowed to differ from it we need not force it to say what we want to to say. However, if we lean towards the second (which I tend to do), and incorporate the first within this (which I’m also inclined to do), then I believe that as members of the church, our primary interlocutor, as well as Jesus, which is the event through which we read the Bible, force us into differing from the Bible text.

So in short: If we say that we read the Bible as book of the church which bring us to Jesus, then I think we can argue that we sometimes hear the voice of the Bible, and then state that we differ from it, and that we do this because the Bible and Jesus said that we should do this. Within this I think that we can say that the Bible says, but I say something else, and that this would be the position of the truly faithful, rather than stating that I always agree with the Bible, but forcing the Bible to way what I’d like to way (whether through selective quoting or inconsistent use of “context”), since I still read the Bible for reasons which don’t allow me to acknowledge when I differ from the Bible.

Café Riche is situated on the western side of Church squere in Pretoria. It is 14 years old, which mean it was started in 1994, I still wonder who had the mind to start this place in 1994 in the Pretoria inner-city! On the last Friday evening of every month they have the filosofiekafee, a philosiphy café that has been running for about 10 years now.

After reading something written by one of my heroes, Jurie le Roux, who said that he delivered this at this filosifiekafee, and then again finding it when searching for something on Johan Rossouw, I decided to go check it out. So on Friday evening I visited it with some friends.

Rian Malan was speaking on Conservative Black USA and the lessons, even hope, we can find in their writings. In short the conservatives he talked about was against affirmative action, saying that this devalue the black, fought for strong family ties and hard work. The problem in Africa he identified as victimhood, the idea that I am a victim still found in black South Africa.

Sadly this remain an all-white, and almost all-Afrikaner, conversation. When we got out at about 10 PM or so, after sitting in the all-white basement of Café Riche, the restaurant was all-black. This intelectual conversation still miss the context I think. I also got the idea that they kind of sit their talking about the problems of South Africa, but work with the idea that the time of the Afrikaner has passed, so we can’t so anything in any case. I even think Rossouw said this at one point (update: Maryke reminded me that this was actually Malan). Furthermore it’s another conversation with an average age of about 50. And myself and my two friends probably was the only under-25’s in the room (except for one other guy who was their for a little while).

All this being said, I still think it was a good conversation. Some of the people I thought naïve, like the lady who said that Afrikaners are not at all that much Western, because many of us were brought up by black workers (a fact that is very true). Luckily someone else helped out by pointing out that actually, we are just Americans thanx to Hollywood. Rossouw himself also call certain parts of Afrikaner culture a colony of America. This is sad but true.

I have a dream of a conversation of young South Africans. People who are strong intelectuals, who can work through the issues of the day, who can do this in a multi-racial way, in a critical way, and who can provide moral and intelectual leadership to a broken country… Is that too far-fetched?

MBTI and spirituality

April 3, 2008

Graeme Codringtonposted a nice summary on MBTI (Meyers-Briggs) and spiritual development (part1, part2). I have a kind of love-hate relationship with personality tests, I love them, because they can help give greater self-understanding and self-acceptance. Knowing who you are, and that it is normal, and different from some others, so that you don’t attempt to make yourself someone you are not. I hate them when people try to change who they are because some test have said that they are supposed to be different from they natural way they express themselves, but any good psychologist will tell you that this is not the idea.

According to MBTI I am an ENTP. And the descriptions I’ve seen of this, is shockingly accurate! I’ve read some stuff on creativity, and yip, ENTP was me, and on personality profiles, ENTP was who I am. I once tested INTP (after I once broke up with Maryke), and all my friends who read the description knew that something must be seriously wrong. I was mentored by a guy who is busy with his Doctorate, working on MBTI profiles in the liturgy; he really helped me understand these kind of stuff better.

So, according to Graeme, this is what I ENTP will look like with regards to spiritual disciplines:

Creative, resourceful, and intellectually quick. Good at a broad range of things. Enjoy debating issues, and may be into “one-up-manship”. They get very excited about new ideas and projects, but may neglect the more routine aspects of life. Generally outspoken and assertive. They enjoy people and are stimulating company. Excellent ability to understand concepts and apply logic to find solutions.

Study, Service, Celebration

  • You need freedom from structures – disciplines are least helpful for you.
  • Prayer is much more of your whole day than a specific event.
  • Dream big dreams for God – you can change the world, if you try something really huge for God!
  • You might want to try liturgies and written prayers that you read, but be careful of an overly “religious” life.
  • Have spiritual conversations with others.
  • Try serving other people.

Yes, and this is me. I remember the feelings of guilt in my 2nd year of university because I simply couldn’t get a structured prayer life together. Until I realised that prayer is part of my whole day, and I simply can’t seem to sit still for a “prayer-hour” or something similar. Maybe I should try serving though…

What’s your MBTI profile? Does the description Graeme gave fit you? Can you learn something about spiritual disciplines from them?

I joined the TGIF crowd again this morning at Brooklyn mall. Cori invited me last week, I wasn’t aware of this group until then. Roger Saner was speaking on neo-Monasticism, a topic I know absolutely nothing about, but have a lot of thoughts on lately, so I was eager so listen. Steve Hays was there as well, and left some thoughts on what Roger said, which I’m not going to repeat, it was a little early for me, so I’m not sure whether I listened so good. Roger will post some thoughts on his blog somewhere, and said he’ll try and upload the podcast as well onto ons of his blogs.

I had one question though. I struggled to see the line between neo-monasticism and the emerging conversation in Roger’s speech. Still wondering on the relation between the two…

But OK. This is my thoughts, thoughts which I’ve been pondering for a while now, and which was again triggered in the last few months when I read Blue Like Jazz. I’m not sure yet was the relationship between intentional communal living and new-monasticism might be, but I think I might be more onto the former than the latter, not sure yet.

I’ve been living in a communal setting for 5 years now, moved out end of last year. It might be communal settings we seldom recognize when talking these things in theological conversations, but this really is what it is. It was called Taaibos, and is a University residence at Tukkies. 240 guys, 7 corridors, some intentionality (making first year students part of the community – with a very positive orientation program, winning res of the year, having fun, that kind of thing) but usually a few people managing the system, and a lot sitting on the fringe, a lot like a congregation actually. But I really learned a lot form this communal experience, a lot about people, about living together, being together when things aint good, that kind of stuff.

So, why think about communal living again after 5 years? I think the general communal living system which students follow can be a great experience, and really teach you a lot, however, after 5 years I’m thinking that their might be something more. Something which won’t give you what this open communal systems gave, but maybe give something else later on in life. A more intentional group. Maybe this is similar to what the guys at, for example, nieucommunties are doing, but some things will have to differ.

  • When thinking communal living/neo monasticism/call it what you want, the sustainable idea is to have communities of people working or studying, with normal lives. Not devoted only to the community.
  • I think we need more than a religious community, it should also be a community where we develop rythms of life which will cause a sustainable lifestyle (in the psycological, physical, but also the ecological sense of the word)
  • It should be a place where spirituality is developed, but with a strong theological base, and a close link with tradition, or else I feel a sect or a cult coming
  • It should be a commited group, but a free group, since we are not working with monks who vowed their way into this community. So something like a minimal commitment, but which is kept
  • Yes, it should also be a missional community, but the form of mission might differ, because we have a lesser commitment, and people working and living a life that is bigger than the community

Sometimes I think I’d like to experiment with something like this, taking what we’ve learned about communal living at university, joining it with monastic, neo-monastic, intentional communal living, emerging, or whatever ideas, and seeing what developes out of this.

It’s quite a hectic time at the moment. Will be preaching twice on Sunday (all my respect to those of you who have to do this every week), and since we are busy with a series where similar sermons are preached in both our services, I have to finish my one sermon by tomorrow to send it to the other guy that will be preaching. What’s worse is that he has been a pastor for 40 years or something, and I just started out, so it’s kind of a stressful idea!!!

What’s more I’ll be having a meeting tomorrow about this years Engineering Ethics, a course at the university where I’m part of the team teaching and facilitating discussions. So the lecturer asked if I’d bring along my ideas for possible work we could add/change to/in the curriculum, especially with regards to Ecological Ethics, which we would like to give higher priority this year. I’m thinking about the first chapter of Fritjof Capra’s The Web of Life, but it contains a lot of philosophy which I’m not sure what the Engineering students will make of. So, if you have any ideas which might help, and you can let me know within the next 12 hours, I’ll appreciate it. I’m looking for something scholarly, something radical, something ecological, and something the lay reader can understand (The average engineer isn’t that interested in philosophy or ethics).

OK, a question. What’s the relationship between discipleship and the church? I’ll be preaching on discipleship and biblical formation on Sunday (again, I have about 18 hours to finish my draft on this sermon), and as I was working this afternoon, some questions arised.

Discipleship is not coming to church, but it’s going into the world. What do we do when we go into the world? Where is the world? Is the church part of the world? Sometimes I wonder why even keep the church? Well, it seems like the task of the church would be to prepare people for discipleship; I get this mainly from Matt 28 (read the thoughts of David Bosch in Transforming Mission on this), go and teach what you have learned from Jesus; Jesus made disciples, now go and make some more, to make more, to make more? No, to do what Matthew wrote in his account of Jesus from chap 1-28, to take part in the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, to heal, bring hope, feed to poor, look after the vulnerable etc etc. Why have another sermon on this? What do I say when I have another sermon on this? Can the church actually “train” people in discipleship? Is biblical formation and discipleship the same thing? Is discipleship and making disciples the same thing? Maybe biblical formation and disciples, or making disciples is supposed to be the same thing, but do we use this terminology for the same thing in our churches?

I’m reading Emerging Churches by Gibbs/Bolger, especially chapters 3 and 4, as part of my preparation. Is this the answer? Should we close down church and start alternative communities? What about the millions in traditional congregations who will never fit into new models, are they “lost for discipleship”? Is discipleship possible in a traditional Reformed congregation? What about in a hip mega-church? Bring back the question, in what way is discipleship (or making disciples ) and church linked at all?

Well OK, have to go now, I’m having dinner with some nice people from the congregation. A technical error (I’m sure the database we are using has some programming error) caused me to phone the wrong person to sympathise with a husbands death. As Murphy would have it, this person had a brother with the same name as the dead husband, and I left a message just to say that I heard, and would call later. She got it, thought her brother died, then found out he was alive bla bla bla. You can imagine the bad experience it must have been! I felt very bad. So actually I just wanted to go and say sorry, but, in spite of my horrible mistake, the nice people are giving me some food (which is great if you are in bachelorhood!)