Embrace: Three Perspectives for the Mission Field

If you have followed our journey in any way, you may have heard us reference the phrase, "Embrace the process." It is something that Jeff Roper, who serves as Foursquare's Area Missionary for Europe, has been encouraging us with throughout the months of transition. 

I have continued to ruminate on that phrase during our first month in the field. Two more "embrace" paradigms have also struck me. Not struck me in the, "Aha! That's a brilliant theory!" kind of way. I mean struck me like a left hook from Ali. 

This unbalancing duo features the bewildering power of disorientation and the social rearrangement of moving to the margins. My plan is to write a post on all three "embraces" over the next few weeks as I think and pray through the realities, challenges and possibilities of each new perspective. For now, here are some quick thoughts.

Embrace the Process

We are a people of destination and accomplishment. We go somewhere. We do something. The going and the doing are the required momentum between our present reality and our preferred future. But what if the going and doing are equally or more important than the end result? Embracing the process is about recognizing God is more intent on doing something in me than in need of doing something through me.

Embrace the Disorientation 

This came into clarity listening to Jon Tyson talk on the City Collective podcast. Jon shared about a mentor who challenged him with seeing his cultural disorientation as a good gift - an unlearning of old, contextual patterns which needed to be traded for God's ways for the new context. This took my confusion as a stranger in my homeland and gave it purpose. I'm looking for my moments of disorientation and asking better questions of them now.

Embrace the Move to the Margins

There are two moves for me. One is a high-level experience of the place of the church and faith in culture. Idaho is a pretty conservative state in the USA. Religion and talk of faith is not considered fringe or taboo at present. In the UK, I've seen professing Christians lower their voices in public and look around before mentioning "Jesus". Most talk is more generic of "God" or "belief". It makes my little family, giving thanks for food in public and talking about Jesus openly, an oddity. But that's a good thing. More on that another time.

The other move to the margins is stepping from a place of being a known disciple and leader in the local church to being a guy with a weird hodge-podge of an accent and the baffling account of leaving England only to return when everyone else is looking for how to get away. My voice and my views are no longer easily fitting into the new social dynamics. I have to talk less, listen more, think more deeply, and try to grapple with a radically changed culture to whom I am a stranger. It's good. It's hard. And it's necessary.

More to come. Until then, get a hug from a new paradigm.