Thursday, January 22, 2009

Greg's blog - WOW!

I just read your January 5 blog and all I can say is WOW - I am so proud of you and proud to have been one of those professors who got to "think" and "wonder" with you. I hope you don't mind if I quote some of what you wrote.

In response to a requirement to create a report for the district on "conversations", Greg wrote:

I have come to believe over the past 10 years of biblical and theological study that the reduction of the mystery of salvation to the pronouncement of a few magic words is an absurdity and does a grave injustice to the biblical concept of soterios or telios or sozo.

I would like to offer an alternative conference report to the one I am being forced to turn in this week. It would look something like this:

Number of prostitutes who have been told that they are made in the image of God and wept over that fact: 3

Number of addicts who have admitted their bondage, confessed their sin, and sought help through group accountability: 10

Number of sexually abused women who have thrown themselves down at the altar and asked God to heal them: 4

Number of dysfunctional or mentally ill teenagers who have been educated by patient people in the church and listened to for hours on end: 5

Number of hungry mouths fed: easily over 2,000

Number of inner city kids who have now memorized over 3 chapters of the Bible: 5

Number of pastors who have been completely and totally broken down before God and cried out for his help: at least 1

Number of men weekly attending AA in our church basement: 6

Number of people who have smiled and said, "Thank you for what you do; it has given me hope": at least a dozen.

Number of times members of the church have responded to insult or abuse with kindness and patience: thousands.

Now I know that the conference wants the "bottom line." They want me to tell them how many I "got in" so that they can do their little denominational tally. I know that if my number were high enough, my church's name would be read on a list at annual conference as a role model for others. But I don't really want to give them that. Instead, I'd rather tell them stories, show them pictures, and let them eat at our table alongside the poor.

But, alas, this is America. We want numbers -- numbers of "conversions." My suggestion is that we stop counting conversions and start counting conversations.


  1. I'm glad you liked it, Chris. Thanks for the compliment. Feel free to take anything from my blog and put it on this one. From time to time, when I write something directly related to urban ministry (and I often do), I will let you know and post it here. Blessing on you!

  2. Greg,

    I could not agree more with your anger over district reporting. The number one question I get as I introduce my self is, "How many does your church run?" My follow up questions are usually:

    1. Do you mean the people sitting on Sunday morning?
    2. Or do you mean those who serve our weekly community dinner?
    3. Or those who have helped get an apartment for those being released from prison?
    4. Or those who gave groceries to those in need?
    5. Or those who gave a couple hours to mentor a teen?
    6. Or those who drove the community searching for those who needed a warm cup of coffee?

    I am sick of being pigeon holed in denominational guidelines. After they recognize our call, why cant they let us be and build His Kingdom how our community sees it. There walls hinder instead of encourage. We dont need the recognition, we need more hands. And if you cant provide that then we will look elsewhere. It isnt about us but our "new family" who is broken and needs help. Please stop making decision for us 200 mies away. If you want to be apart, roll up your sleeves, and lets go to work.

  3. Greg and Jacob,
    I love your heart and the questions you are asking. Change will come just because of what you are doing and the way you are being among your people, but what else can be done?

    What possibilities do you see for change in denominational structures?

    Are there ways for you, as the new "young" pastors to get involved at a district or national level?

    What if we took the homeless with us to the next district meeting?

  4. DANG...You keep it real...I could def. see myself doing that very same thing...yet again, I am encouraged by you sir...Keep keepin it real...

    One Love,
    -Matt Beasley