I really appreciate Tony Jones. He is one of the best conversation starters in the “Christian” blogosphere with his passion for the Church to step more fully into its vocation by setting aside complacency and static dogma. Tony asks hard questions and seeks to create space for constructive discourse that leads to new insights and answers. On a personal level, his endorsement of my first book – Teaching Through the Art of Storytelling – to the higher ups at Zondervan is a significant reason I got published at that stage of my life/career.
In my mind: Tony = Good Dude.
Last week there was some buzz around my new book (with Rob Yackley), Thin Places, Six Postures for Creating and Practicing Missional Community, that led to Tony posting a blog (Read it here for the rest of this post to make sense) in response to Steve Knight’s post on it the day before. The conversation revolved primarily around varying interpretations of the Celtic term “Thin Place” and the secular/sacred dualism it could potentially create. Tony argues that there are is no such thing as a thin place, “I say this because God is ever-present, everywhere. God isn’t more some places and less in other places. God is, in the classic sense, omnipresent.” Rob and I give our interpretation of a “thin place” in the comments of this post.
In the end, Tony agrees with us on this and we agree with him. God is everywhere, but a thin place is that moment/place where we are awakened to the reality of God’s Kingdom in a new way. It’s not that it wasn’t here, it’s that we hadn’t yet had the eyes to see it. He says, “In other words, pay attention. God is already where you are.”
Couple More Thoughts:
1. There is an irony to this whole conversation. The point of this book is to offer the lived, rooted, praxis-based expression of a missional community so as to help spark the imaginations and practices of other faith communities. We are saying, “Life on mission in the context of intentional community is not a far out ideal: it is a reality waiting for others to step into.” “Missional” has become quite the buzzword and handy adjective for those seeking to jump on the latest ecclesial bandwagon. I’m not saying those are inherently bad, but the last thing we need is more TALK about missional…we need embodied, lived expressions of the missional way of life.
The Irony? This book is seeking to encourage the Church to LIVE INTO their theology rather than debate it. So while I love the discussions that are circling around the theological connotations of the title of this book, I’d love even more to see us wrestling with how to PRACTICE this in the real-life stories of our neighborhood.
I’m not saying there isn’t a need for academic critique, discourse or even debate on this. In fact, I find great value in that and personally come to life in it. What I am saying is that it would go a long way if we more often stepped out from behind our computers, and began to better live out our theology in the mundane than argue theology in the theoretical (I recently said much more about that over at Tony Campolo’s Red Letter Christians blog). If there’s a hope from Thin Places, It’s not only for people to be encouraged to live this out, but to build on it, improve and add to it, and then share that insight with others.
2. Missional Hipster?
Well, you may have me there, Tony…or maybe not. Depends on who you talk to. I think hipsters wouldn’t consider me a hipster and non-hipsters would call me a hipster. And as Rob said, he’s way to old to be a hipster. Are there hipsters in our community? Let’s just say some of the guys have to put Vaseline on their thighs to pull their pants up, so yes, we have some hipster up in here. But please know that after I send you a box of THIN mints and Wheat THINS you’ll be receiving a prayed over spatula from our white missional hipster BBQ.