Thursday, August 17, 2006

SECOND REFORMATION by Bob Sears

Through Ken Eastburn I met Bob Sears, the author of this article. He's leading a highly-missional group in Long Beach and here he gives us a snapshot of what one of those meetings looks like. I can't wait to visit one day and see for myself.

Here ya go...

Second Reformation by Bob Sears

Nine, then ten of us, stuffed into a tiny, second-story Long Beach apartment or an “open discussion” of spiritual issues; Five Christians and five “non”.

After getting acquainted, I transitioned with this hopeful firestarter- “If you could ask God a question that you knew He would answer right way, what would it be?” The skeptic’s replies were pretty diverse:

*”I’d ask her if she was real.”- Leanna, 24, our hostess and our original contact
*”Is there a right way to believe?”- Mark, 25, the host who lives with Leanna
*”Are there aliens on other planets?”- John, 33, the heavily tattoed, non-pot-smoking Rastafarian who hasn’t cut or combed his dreadlocks for 14 years
*”Why? Why did you start the world? Why are things the way they are? Why?!”- Drew, mid 20’s, outspokenly agnostic.
*Why did you create this whole thing that just dies over and over?”- Brendon, who showed up near the end of our evening

How I would up with these people is an object lesson in the power of prayer. When 50 Christian friends and supporters joined me for dinner on March 26 (which delighted me, by the way), I asked everyone to please pray for my ministry during the last ten minutes of our time together. The next day I kept an appointment with Ken Eastburn, a Southern Baptist pastor who recently led his church of 90 to sell their building in Brea and start meeting as seven house churches. I had been referred to him by a mutual acquaintance several weeks before.

Ken and I hit it off. Especially when he mentioned that his goal was to start 100 small house churches in Orange County, the exact same goal I had publicly declared to our group the night before.

We met several weeks in a row and decided to start following-up on some of his leads. Leanna in Long Beach was one of those leads. Ken and I had dinner later on with her and her room-mate Mark to share our ideas for an open discussion of spiritual seekers and agreed to meet in this way with those they invited two weeks from that time. That all occurred on June 4th.

On June 11th we tackled the question of why God created everything when he knew in advance how messed-up things would get. I gave everyone a (slightly paraphrased) copy of Colossians 1:15-22 to use as a reference during our interaction. Paul highlights two answers in that passage:

#1 – God has always planned to establish Jesus as supreme head over all creation and all of history is the outworking of that plan.

#2 – God’s actions to reconcile people to himself through Christ reveals his eternal desire for a vital relationship with us. That’s what he made us for.

I didn’t offer these two insights until the last few minutes of our group discussion, but they listened intently, then expressed readiness to give the next topic a shot after Father’s Day.

Two Sundays later, we had a rousing discussion about whether or not there is a “right way” to believe. Most in our group began by answering, “No, there is no right or wrong way to believe. Everyone is equally right and all opinions are equally valid.” But, of course that belief/opinion claims to be more right than other beliefs/opinions, so it reveals itself as ridiculous after just a little probing. (A good book on this is “Relativism: Feet Planted Firmly In Mid-Air” by Beckwith and Koukl). Most of our group quickly caught on and saw their problem. In fact, Leanna dismayed herself by wanting to be tolerant of all views, then realizing she simply can’t be and remain logical. Some things are just obviously right and wrong. Her conclusion: Human morality must have been imparted to us by a Creator.

A lesbian newcomer named Yvonne also admitted to inconsistent beliefs, but she loved how “carefully listened to” she felt as she discovered that fact. (She also commented that our discussion had been so deep that she might fare better next time if she comes “high”. Yeah. That’s help.)

But not everyone was impressed. Drew is much brighter and better trained as a philosopher than I; the kind who can make you doubt if even “you” exist! He asked me to read part of a book he loves by Friedrich Nietzsche so I could better understand his take on the issue. My conclusion, after reading it, is that Satan also attends our meetings and has a firm grip on some of their minds there (see 2 Cor 4:3-4). There’s no chance of my influencing them unless Jesus is present in power and supplies my responses.

On Sunday, July 2nd, after discussing why each of us do-or-don’t believe that God exists; we analyzed Jesus’ reply to Philip’s hare-brained request to see the Father. “Don’t you yet recognize me, Philip, even after I have been with you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking to see Him? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me?” (John 14:9-10).

I can’t tell you how much impact the scriptures I choose for this group are having, but I can tell you that God is giving me favor with them. They like what we’re doing and now want to continue meeting at least through July (a month longer than originally committed to). So, please pray that God will open their hearts to receive His Truth, and that He’ll give me Christ-like clarity and wisdom so I can milk this opportunity for all it’s worth. I’d give an arm to see a new church birthed with some of these folks, and it’s not too much to ask.
Still stirred up about all this,
Bob Sears

**EDITED FOR CONTENT

1 comment:

carlo164 said...

I like the way you bring people of different beliefs together like the one discussion you had with a rastafarian and with ministers. It just goes to show that with an open mind and heart we could well do things together and without conflict.