Launching into some bridge building may sound great. Surely we’ve got to develop connections in a manner much like cross-cultural missionaries often try to.
But things will probably start getting messy when we do. Physical bridges produce changes in island life — disruptions, more ‘foreigners’ visiting or even moving in. Why shouldn’t bridges of good works do the same?
If we’re not going to back out — through fear of change or the unknown — then we’re going to need to prepare ourselves.
The key is to vigorously implement the kind of attitude Jesus displayed towards sinners. Meet them with grace. Accept them wherever they’re at — whatever sin or doubt or fear they’re struggling with. But don’t leave them to wallow. Walk with them towards transformation and maturity in Christ.
I want to suggest two points of departure for this:
- Get used to setting (and continually reinforcing) the expectation that the church is about growth and spiritual transformation. In other words, move beyond just talking to ourselves about love and transformation — preaching, quite literally, to the converted. And start prayerfully and proactively living it.
- On the flip side, teach the fact that it’s OK to be part of church if you don’t ‘have it all together’ — and lead by example. We may talk a lot about growth and transformation. But there’s no biblical warrant for expecting uninterrupted linear progress. Christian growth is a matter of struggle between the Spirit and the flesh (cf. Gal 5.16-26).
The challenge, of course, is to make all this concrete!