What’s this blog for? Dreaming a theme on education, mission, theology

I wandered into blogging.

Maybe I’m wandering back out. Sometimes on the net you come across a blog with six months worth of entries, or less, but nothing new since thirty months ago.

Maybe some definition of what the blog is about could help longevity.

Why would anyone read a blog regularly?

Well, a theme is being played out that a reader shares — some nudge of interest.

If it was Katie Perry’s blog, it would be Katie’s fans. All she does would be of interest, willy-nilly, because she did it.

If it was Margaret Atwood, it would be her work, and then her person.

People who read her work develop an interest in the person who is behind the work.

So I might read a biography of C.S. Lewis (yet another one) because I continue to be somewhat curious about him. (For the record, I’m interested in the 1950s formal debate at Oxford at which Lewis was soundly beaten in public, and how that reverberated in his career. I also want to know more about the way he grasped the power and importance of myths, as played out in his children’s stories and, say, That Hideous Strength.)

So why would anybody come and read me on any regular basis.

Not for being a celebrity.

So let’s try the theme side of blog possibilities.

My theme is education and mission.

That is, I want to know how education can serve what used to be called “home missions.”

By “mission,” I mean “efforts to extend the faith to those outside of it.”

Or, bigger expression, mission is “all ways in which the Christian faith propagates and perpetuates itself.”

(That definition takes in higher education and leader development, surely part of a complex picture.)

Let me move to the personal level. I’m not a very good sharer of my faith. I don’t take risks.

When I have an extended time in a coffee shop with someone, then it becomes natural. Together we go into some depth.

Otherwise, I’m not bold.

But: my faith is my most real life.

And for me, five or more years of small personal steps, also intellectual steps, came before I was anywhere near to saying, “Jesus is Lord.”

For years, the idea had to be absurd.

Until, to pick one step of many, I read Schumacher’s Guide for the Perplexed. That book’s argument completely changed my world.

Ten years later, another kind of huge revelation was the Alpha Course.

By then I was a paid full-time church educator.

Alpha was developed by an Anglican church in London, England.

Alpha was a pattern by which a whole church could partner to share its (best) life with those outside of it.

No course leader has to be prepared to be a super-duper intellectual with all answers. Nobody has that pressure. Alpha had a good speaker on videotape.

The main challenge to church members helping with the course was to get us all to shut up and listen, and to allow thoughts to be spoken that were out of our normal bandwidth.

(Not always was the challenge met. But it must have been met enough.)

Kindness, care, why not say “love,” is as important to anyone becoming a believer as the bare intellectual argument — if “bare intellectual argument” could even exist.

In my own life, I saw the care at second-hand in someone else’s life but it was still convincing. Incontrovertible.

So: Alpha did home missions. It was education doing evangelism.

Alpha recovered people to the faith who had some barebones exposure to Christianity, maybe from a year of Sunday school or a brief camping experience or some youth program.

Alpha did not do fundamental theology or fundamental apologetics. But it proved able to move people who could already speak some of the language to a position of faith.

A whole church, working together, could help in that moving.

Some workers made meals. Some washed dishes. Some drove cars. Some invited friends. Some led discussion groups. Some put the video into the machine.

The whole body of the church built community and was able by caring, listening, and showing the truth, to lead others into that community. A beautiful thing. A win-win if ever there was.

Education as mission. Or mission as education. Shouldn’t the whole work of a local church be community building, mind-building, service-capacity building?

Shouldn’t the work of higher education be people-building, identity-building, community-building, service-capacity building?

Sum it all up: let’s say, “love-building.”

More to come sometime.

In the meantime: I plan to stay on the education-mission-theology theme in this blog.

If that’s not wide enough for all of a life, what is.

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