Stormy Waters Ahead
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” —Isaiah 6:8, NIV.
I finally got around to reading some books that have been calling to me from my book basket for months. I’m almost finished this one, but today’s verse is an appropriate kick-off for a recommendation to all my friends out there in cyberspace.
The verse is very “missionary” and the book is very missional. After having his up-close-and-personal meeting with God, Isaiah couldn’t do anything else but align himself with God’s mission.
Edited by Leonard Sweet, The Church of the Perfect Storm is a compilation of articles that calls the church to come out of hiding and face the winds of cultural change that are tearing through our world. It is a call to mission, to mount the wings of the Spirit of God and venture out to do what most delights the heart of God—be engaged in His redemptive mission.
My copy of the book is underlined in all kinds of places and while I don’t agree with everything I’ve read this far, the book is brimming with challenging material. For example, Alan Jamieson writes: “The church in western contexts has been lulled by the calm between storms. As modernity’s winds of rationalism have faded, we have entered a false complacency. It has been too easy to abandon the deeper demands of Christian living. It has been too easy to abandon the hard work of study. It has been too easy to abandon the rigors of long-term involvement in community mission. But mostly we have abandoned the soul-searching life of prayer that draws us beyond the shallows and immerses us in the storms of pain, injustice, our personal poverty, and the rawest emotions and experiences of life” (pg. 55).
One of the best examples I’ve read so far in the book comes from an article written by Mark Batterson. When he and others began planting a church in Washington D.C. they met in the movie theatres in Union Station. The idea was that when they grew they would build a church somewhere and have their own facilities. People kept asking them when they were going to build. As time passed they realized that they were exactly where they needed to be to do mission—right in the heart of the city where thousands of people passed their doors. They now are a church with multiple locations along the subway lines and own and operate a coffeehouse where church and community cross paths every day of the week. “The driving motivation behind building a coffeehouse instead of a church,” writes Batterson, “was a pretty simple observation from the Gospels. Jesus didn’t hang out at synagogues. Jesus hung out at wells. Wells were more than just a place to draw water. Wells were natural gathering places in ancient culture. Jesus didn’t expect people to come to him. He crossed the ancient cultural boundaries and went to them. And that is what the incarnation is all about” (pg. 113).
God asks us to go, not to sit and wait for people to come to us. Isaiah, having seen the glory of the Lord and having understood his own lostness and how much God had forgiven him, responded to the call. How often have we heard the phrase: “you can’t walk on water if you don’t get out of the boat.” The premise of The Church of the Perfect Storm takes us one further step and reminds us that we need to get IN the boat and take it out into the storm of the world, before we can walk on the water.