safe places

Fred Peatrosss has continually blessed me with his writing, specifically the stuff he’s done for Next-Wave E-Zine. He’s a missional Christian with roots in the Restoration Movement who, according to his profile on Next-Wave, “makes a habit of creating safe places for pre-Christians.”

Listen to what he has to say about “safe places” as they relate to our relationships with not-yet-Christians (the whole article, titled “Fellow Explorer, Sometimes Guide,” can be found here:

Creating safe places offers nothing new or beyond the model Jesus gave us almost 2,000 years ago. God became flesh and joined the indigenous practices of His culture. Now it’s our time to embed the message of Jesus into the emerging culture of our day. (I’m indebted to Brain McLaren for this terminology.) Flesh is encoded culturally and historically and is socially constructed.

Safe places stand as a corrective to the prevailing mentality of the church and its uncanny addiction to centripetal ministries, which attempts to drag seekers into its gig. Jesus wasn’t centripetal but centrifugal. The four walls of a church building should simply serve as a location for training loyal apprentices how to leak the life of Jesus to the people around them. Portable spirituality is the ministry of Jesus.

The tradition of primarily using church facilities for activities to bring people closer to the presence of God is not the creation of “safe places.” Church buildings are owned and managed by the church, sometimes to good effect but always subordinate to some other purpose. God’s people would come closer to fulfilling the mission requirements of the emerging culture if they could define the common ground in such a way that it is not directly under the control of the organized church. This is the significance of the boundary between the sanctuary and the “Court of the Gentiles” &emdash;such as, believers must come out of the church in order to play on the common ground. They do not cease to be believers, but the rules of the game have changed.

Though I think many Christians have made amazing strides in moving toward a more Christ-imitating practice of everyday mission, so many of us have so far to go. We have such a hard time thinking beyond what we can buy, maintain, and control. We have such a hard time thinking beyond hard, quantifiable results of our ministry.

This is evident even in many emergent/emerging churches, which have often taken baby steps toward incarnational ministry while in essence maintaining a primarily attractional structure. Many of the changes have been aesthetic, whether it be fresh worship music, soft couches, incense and candles, or art-decorated sanctuaries. Unfortunately, the DNA of these churches has often remained the same.

Peatross raises some important questions about where ministry happens, specifically among pre-Christians. We must begin to see ministry as happening not only in our padded sanctuaries and fully functional gymnasiums, but in the rhythms of everyday life — on their turf.

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2 responses to this post.

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