I finished Michael Frost's book, Exiles, somewhere between Dallas and Chicago last week and want to make one final (I think) post about what I read. Overall, I thought Exiles is a thought-provoking look at how Christians and the Church can live missionally in our society. Onto the final post.
When I think about my faith journey, the places where transformation occurred in my life where not in Sunday worship or Sunday School. I did not experience transformation from a Bible Study (although I learned more about my faith). Most often, I have experienced spiritual transformation outside of our Sunday morning. For me, it was Seneca Hills Camp when I was a pre-teen. That's when God used a missionary named Hudson Hess to help me hear my call to ministry. It was Jumonville and Wesley Woods where I experienced God's presence and community in amazing ways. It was trips to Brazil and Paraguay where I learned (and saw) God's heart for the poor. My spiritual journey has been shaped by the space outside of Sunday worship.
Frost talks about creating a "liminal" state where community and faith development can occur. For instance, one can go on a mission trip to Guatemala. Because I am not at my home, nor am I really living in Guatemala, I am in a liminal space. It's a place of transition. It is in this space of transition where community and change occur as people work towards a common goal. Liminal spaces are most effective when experienced within community. We cannot go it alone (first, we are not designed to be lone rangers) as we are products of a Triune God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) and are image bearers of the divine.
Michael Frost writes this,
"Have you ever noticed how many men attend worship only occasionally and begrudgingly, but when there's a church cleanup day, they'll turn up joyfully and work hard all day? Such workdays creat a mini-communitas. So do short-term mission trips and youth mission trips. So does church planting. But weekly church services do not. It's like sitting at the apostles' feet and drinking in their teaching in Jersualem in the first century. It serves a useful purpose, but the ultimate purpose of the Jerusalem church was to go and make disciples of all nations."
Being part of a faith community (church) is essential to our faith, but it is certainly not the only thing we are about. We are to go out from our churches and into a world of transition, into the liminal spaces to experience community, hope, grace, mercy, compassion, and love. It is imperative for the church of the 21st centuy to create liminal space, and encourage the body to go into this space in order to experience transformation and community.
Where have you experienced spiritual transformation? Through a Sunday morning worship gathering? A mission trip? Bible Study? Service project? I'd love to hear your story!