Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Shadetree Anthropology

I was just contemplating the call I believe God placed on my life, and how much a missional mind set in and changed my perspective.  Two years ago, I didn't know the word missional.  I heard it for the first time while talking to Brian Seay and Don Vanderslice, the pastors of Mosaic Church in Austin, about my ministry style.  I explained that I used a New King James Bible to preach from when I was in Fillmore, because the culture of the Mormon church only accepts the KJV.  I used the NKJV because it was familiar enough to allow for a dialogue without turning someone away.  Brian then stated something that kind of asked and explained that my actions were missional, so I asked what that was and he told me.  Actually, what Brian did for me that day was give me a name to put on a theory of ministry I already held.
Mosaic also introduced me to the idea of emerging culture ministries.  I had never been exposed to the emerging church, and had only been recently exposed to the idea of post modernism because a friend of mine studied pomo-ism for his DMin project which he shared with me. The pomo stuff resonated with me because I knew that I didn't fit the traditional church mold.  I'm to fat and scary looking, and I have always been drawn to the marginal in society.  I think differently than the trad mindset, and because of these things there have been many who questioned my call.  Oh well, I'm different.  In fact I usually say that had I not become a Christian, I would have been a thugish biker type (I love leathers and motorcycles, I started riding when I was 5). 
So just a few years into the journey of emerging culture/missional ministry, I sit here contemplating my next move.  Do I go and study cross-cultural ministry, or do I go and do cross-cultural ministry, or do I do both in either situation.  The latter is probably my answer.  To serve a culture, I must study the culture, and wherever I go, I will be active in a ministry.  Which brings me to the title of this entry, Shadetree Anthropologists.  As we carry on this conversation about emerging culture, and become immersed in the culture of the tribe God calls us to serve, Are we playing anthropologist?  Merriam Webster defines anthropology this way:

1 : the science of human beings; especially : the study of human beings and their ancestors through time and space and in relation to physical character, environmental and social relations, and culture

2 : theology dealing with the origin, nature, and destiny of human beings 

Don't we have to be shadetree anthropologists to effectively minister missionally.  If so, would one be well served to study anthropology given the opportunity?  

Honestly, I had never asked these questions until today when I started mulling over the culture in Fillmore.  When I first moved there, I was open minded, but didn't know the culture.  I have an opportunity, if I return, to properly prepare a ministry that reaches out to that culture.  Even as an outsider non-Mormon in a small Mormon town, there is potential because I have ties to their tribe.  I have relationships with many, and actually, I still bank in Fillmore.  So, I may have an opportunity to hone my shadetree anthropology.  What do I do


Blogger Brad said...

i think you've got the appropriate paradoxical approach to your study/do opportunity: situate your studies, and study your situation. it'll let you cycle and recycle and maybe even bike-cycle...

12:03 PM  

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