Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sharing missional thoughts in the Canaries

Tomorrow I'm off to Lanzarote to speak at the Canary Islands Baptist Mission Conference (it's a tough job but someone really has to do it!). I shall be delivering four sessions - one to ministers, the other three to the conference as a whole.

I'm sure that Roxburgh's thinking will feature heavily in what I share from Luke 10. It will be interesting to see how churches in a very context to mine respond to these ideas.

One of the challenges for us in what Roxburgh says about mission is how we see the people who live next door and across the street as 'neighbours'. It's a challenge because lots of them live in networks rather than neighbourhoods; they mix with the people they know and like from their leisure pursuits or workplaces, from the links that have been made via their children.

Now some of these network links look suspiciously like neighbourly relations. But others aren't because interaction will take place miles from home. The challenge of Roxburgh's thinking is whether we can model the life of faith where we live with those among whom we live. But I think there's another challenge here that has to do with how we can contribute to making the streets we live in into neighbourhoods where people interact with one another, look out for each other, laugh and cry with each other.

Sociologists talk of this in terms of social capital. Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone argued that the growing individualism and consumerism of our culture was leading to a decline in social capital. Does the Christian community have a role in reversing this decline? Is this part of being a missional people? I think the answer to this is probably 'yes'. But I am not sure how.

I'll be reflecting on this as I sip sangria watching the sun set over the sea with new friends in the coming week and as I share coffee and glasses of wine with various friends through this coming summer in gardens, cafes and pubs around here. Perhaps, I'll stumble on an insight or two. I'd be interested to know your thoughts...

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