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David Timms 

Issue 5.11

Ministry Resource

Rodney Clapp's Tortured Wonders: Christian Spirituality for People, Not Angels (Brazos Press, 2004, 275pp) is fascinating and helpful. Clapp brings spirituality back down to earth, affirming the connection between our physicality and spirituality. His treatment of baptism and Lord's Supper is from the Episcopalian tradition and very thought-provoking, and Clapp also writes well on sexuality.

HOPE Happenings

Commencement for May 2005 is just 4 weeks away. Students in each of the three schools are working hard to finalize assignments and courses, and you might pray especially for those who are now looking to "life beyond graduation", often wondering what's next.

 

Relevance and Change

What extraordinary times we live in. And what unique opportunities exist for ministry. The postmodern culture has provided openings for the gospel that we've not seen for generations. The ascendancy of the Internet in the past 20 years staggers us with both its trash and treasure. We can speak with more people, more often, more easily, and more affordably than any time in human history. Travel is fast and affordable. Our age makes even the 19th century look prehistoric .

 

But the fast-paced change of our culture poses a subtle threat to the Church. The danger lies not in the outcomes of the cataclysmic changes we experience but in the pace and process of that change .

 

A frequent criticism of the church is that it fails the 'relevancy' test. Pundits regularly observe the time warp many churches seem locked in, usually several decades behind culture. They accuse the Church of being slow to utilize new technology, new music (1980s music is hardly contemporary anymore), new values (on homosexuality, pluralism, etc), and new images.

 

These criticisms have been heard, especially by the emerging generation of leaders, many of whom bring fantastic potential to the kingdom .

 

Consequently, we've embarked on the elusive quest to be "relevant." And herein lies our dilemma.

 

Relevant today is not relevant tomorrow, and we can find ourselves endlessly chasing the fads and trends of culture - based on the false assumption that all of society shares the same trends and tastes. What contemporary music should we mimic - rock, rap, soul, jazz, blues, country, or hip-hop? But a deeper question emerges: When we pour all our efforts into the packaging, do we find ourselves wrapping empty boxes?

 

Might it be that success is not measured by our capacity to keep up with culture (or a sub-culture), but by our own effectiveness at changing culture?

 

I'm not advocating that we merely stand firm in the face of culture, but that we engage it to precipitate change of our choice. Perhaps, ironically, our greatest challenge is not to keep pace with the frantic changes within culture, but to be a clarion call to a different kind of change.

 

The fundamentals of the kingdom of God are not denoted by technology, styles, structure, or symbols. Amidst the flurry of fads, trends, and tastes, the values of the kingdom remain confrontational to everyone - service not power, humility not fame, obedience not success, community not individualism, etc. 

 

In the end, meaningful ministry may be less about the 'latest and greatest' and more about the 'ancient word' than we realize.

 

When this becomes a conviction, we'll not chase the changes but become catalysts for the changes that matter most .

 

In HOPE -

Hope International University
Fullerton, CA 92831

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David Timms serves in the Graduate Ministry Department at Hope International University in Fullerton, California. "In HOPE", however, is not an official publication of the University and his views are not necessarily those of the administrators or Board of the institution. "In HOPE" has been a regular e-publication since January, 2001.

For back issues of In HOPE, see http://www.hiu.edu/inhope/