"how far we are from where you are"

(This was originally written and posted to renown March 31, 2010.)

I think this is really fascinating and relevant for what I get to be a part of (Ridge Church).

A while back I read my 1st Henri Nouwen book = Life of the Beloved
The book was written to Nouwen's friends who were - "secular", nonreligious, unchurched, postmodern, and did not see the relevance of Jesus in their lives. He wrote it to try to help them see how awesome God is and to try to show them the relevance of Jesus to their lives.

So, he intentionally wrote the book with these unbelievers in mind = trying to speak on their terms, etc...

After writing it and giving it to them he followed up with his friends. This was their response and I think it is SO HUGE for any church concerned with reaching the people in our culture who don't follow Jesus and aren't really interested... 
although you express to us what is most precious to you, you do not realize how far we are from where you are. You speak from a context and tradition that is alien to us, and your words are based on many presuppositions that we don’t share with you. You are not aware of how truly secular we are.”

Wow. I wish all church leaders could hear that. That's what we don't realize so much of the time! we have no idea how far we are from where they are and we are speaking a foreign language that is alien to them!

Here were Nouwen's thoughts on that response from his "secular" friends:
"My attempt had been to be a witness of God’s love to a secular world, but I had sounded like someone who is so excited about the art of sailing that he forgets that his listeners have never seen lakes or the sea, not to mention sailboats!” 

I think that is such a great analogy and I think that's what we too often do in church world.
I'm stoked to be a part of figuring out how to contextualize a relevant message and package and present it in a way that anyone and everyone GETS.
*I'm stoked to be a part of a church that is trying to bridge that gap that separates "how far we are from where you are..."