Thursday, April 26, 2012
missional sacraments #20: centered set
Sally (HT Kiwi)posts:
Jesus broke down barriers and through boundaries, and opened a new way of worship, a new way of knowing God centered upon himself, and in doing so, set the good news free. I find this concept strangely offered again through a mathematical principle reclaimed as a missional model; centered and bounded sets (many thanks to Steve Hollinghurst for introducing me to it). Frost and Hirsch pretty well sum it up here:
"In the bounded set, it is clear who is in and who is out (fences, not wells), based on a well-defined ideological-cultural boundary --usually moral and cultural codes as well as creedal definitions.. but it doesn't have much of a core definition beyond these boundaries. It is hard at the edges, soft at the center."
The centered set, on the other hand, "is like the Outback ranche with the wellspring at its center. It has very strong ideology at the center but no boundaries. It is hard at the center, soft at the edges. We suggest that in the centered set lies a real clue to the structuring of missional communities in the emerging culture.
"The traditional church makes it quite difficult for people to negotiate its maze of cultural, theological, and social barriers in order to get "in.".. and by the time newcomers have scaled the fences built around the church, they are so socialized as churchgoers that they are not likely to be able to maintain their connection with the social groupings they came from...
"We propose a better and more biblical way.. is to ... sink wells. If you sustain your connection with the water sources, you will find a whole host of people relating to Jesus from different walks of life. We allow people to come to Jesus from any direction and from any distance. The Person of Jesus stands.. at the center." (The Shaping of Things to Come)
So what am I saying about the sacraments? I believe that they open a door of powerful encounter with God, and that they can be used missionally, indeed that they are in some way; for if it is the Holy Spirit who brings them to life, who are we to deny that gift to people wanting to respond to God, no matter where they are on their journey? Maybe we need to learn to become wellkeepers rather than spiritual bouncers....