Monday, September 26, 2005

Mind Body Spirit

one of the things i do in the UK is train churches to run stalls at Mind Body Spirit fairs. i am involed in one this wekeend in manchester, with people from the Sanctus 1 community. this year i'm also doing a talk for the first time as part of thre programme. follow this link to find out about the fair look up 2nd october to find my talk lisitng.

i find these fairs fascinating places to be and meet a whole variety of people exploring the spiritual. it's a place people don't expect to find a christian presence, the Church often assumed to be 'unspiritual' on the one hand and automatically condemning of contemporary spirituality on the other. we try to enable people to discover rich resources from the christian tradition and open up the possibility that the Christian path has things to offer after all.

we spend much time sharing personal stories and i often have a lot to reflect on afterwards. I keep meeting people who, as i would understand it, are having encounters with the God I discover in Jesus Christ. i think Christians have somtimes got used to an idea that people 'out there' are secular and unspiritual and we bring God to them and have to persuade them of the reality of ther spiritual realm. either that or we assume that anyone who is having spiritual expereinces outside Chrsitianity must be encountering something demoninc. but what if neither assumption is necessarily true? what if God is speaking directly into the lives of people who are not at all interested in Christinaity but are spiritual explorers? how might that change the way we seek to connect with such people?

i think this is one of ther reasons i like speaking of 'a fellow explorer model' of evangelism, those we seek to open up the christian faith to are already often on the journey. similalry i think Christians are increasingly becoming aware of the extent to which we are also still on a journey, that 'becoming a christian' isn't the end of a journey but a key stage on the jounrey. and of course we are increasingly aware of the very different ways faith in Jesus comes alive for people so that for many knowing when they 'became a christisn' is not possible. in this world the evangelist becomes lead explorer ( i gather that Brian Mclaren has used this phrase BTW does anyone have information on that?) searching out the territory and inviting others to journey with them, rather than a salesman offering a product.


Solidus said...

Thanks for those thoughts, Steve! This division between "Church" and "world" is indeed most unhelpful.

pax et bonum

Stephen said...

Hello Steve. It's my first visit here, thanks to John.

I confess to finding this a stange post. The "fellow explorer" model seems a far cry from the passionate, energetic, herald model of the apostle Paul. As a herald, he had to be heard because he feared God more than men.

And, John, is the distinction between the "world" and the "church" so unhelpful? Jesus warned the disciples that the "world" would hate them! (Jn.15:18,19) Faithful heralding will bring division. No division means the wrong message is being "communicated".

Sorry if this is a bit blunt for a first contribution! :-)

Solidus said...

There's places in which we do indeed need to distinguish between them. But, in others, it's rather more unhelpful. When we assume that "Church" and "spiritual" are synonymous, we are at odds with reality. Many in "the world" are genuinely seeking the spiritual; many in the world see the Church as "unspiritual". That was, I think, what Steve was getting at, and certainly what I was meaning.

pax et bonum

Steve said...



blunt but relevant as a first post.

fellow explorer vs herald? not sure the two have to be opposed. st paul of course saying that 'we now only see in part and know in part' suggests he was still had areas of God to explore.

he also said 'i have became all thingns to all people that by any means i may win some' and 'God was reconcilling the world to himself in Christ not counting their wrong doing against them and entrusting the message of reconcilliation to us'. he also has to point out to the Corinthains that it would be a total misunderstanding of him to withdraw from the world. what he wanted them to do however is not live in an unspiritual and ungodly way and not to get themselves identified with people who give a bad witness to God by living in such a way and having no desrire to alter this whilst professing Chrisitan faith. so if Paul is a herald he is a hearlad of reconcilliation, who becomes like those who wishes to pass on this message to, and will do so fully within the world. faithful heralding should therefore bring reconcilliation not division.

however i recognise that living in a way that is christ like is challenging and some will reject that challenge. some will become very hsotile to that challenge. so whilst reconcilliation is offered to all not all will choose to accept it. so the offer of reconcillaition does not always overcome division. but i don't think it creates it rather division already exists a plenty in this world and the message of reconcilliation can expose the palces where division is and refuses to be healed.

Matthew Francis said...

Hey Steve,
Great to see your work. I went to NTC in Didsbury back in 2000-20001, and wish I could have met more people in this conversation when I was over there. Ah, thanks for what you're doing.

There need be no sharp dichotomy between "fellow explorer" and energetic "herald." Christ himself was simply himself and the theology of the incarnation and the good old book of Proverbs might remind us that there is truly a "time for every purpose under heaven."

Steve said...

Matthew and Richard thanks for the comments and affirmation. richard looks a good article and very promising.

Anonymous said...


I'd be interested in hearing more of your experiences over time.

I been involved with the same thing in Sydney over the last decade with Philip Johnson and am sure you've got plenty of stories to share. It is real encouraging to see this working in the UK and our prayers go with you.

Blessed Be
Matt (

Steve said...

Hi Steve,

What agreat idea. I've linked to this.