Defining experience of 2010 #9: Exile with Nick Park.

A year of scuba diving in the depths of Christian orthodoxy and greater attentiveness to the Church’s past brought with it new perspective on our future, our mission, and (with the clear and present danger of me singing Michael W. Smith again),an understanding of our place in this world.  Of the many teaching series we have done at Renovatus, Exile would easily rank as a personal favorite (knowing my tastes in such matters may not always be reliable).

These were spicy, in-your-face, Muhammad Ali ring-dancing sermons–which is odd enough since a lot of the series was devoted to the advantages of powerlessness.  Using Daniel as a model, this was a series crafted around the idea that the Church must move beyond the dominant disposition of those who are used to being in charge and into the subversive strategies of an underground movement.  Strangely enough, we have much more to be confident about when we have our backs against the wall trusting God than we when sit in the thrones of men keeping our distance from Him.  It’s where we are at our most dangerous and creative again–where we become capable of surprising the world and even ourselves again.

A big part of this story was the influence of my new friend Nick Park.  It’s interesting how frequently God has sent outsiders along the way to remind us of what makes us who we are and where God has strategically placed us in the Church and in the world.  In this case, it was Park, the Administrative Bishop for the Church of God in Ireland, who spoke powerfully to our calling.  A church planter in Dublin himself, Park recognized something of his own heart in Renovatus, and spent a weekend with us to write about our Church in a forthcoming book (about the decline of Christendom and the unique opportunities it affords to churches like ours–he profiles our Church as one that he believes is postured to make a difference after Christendom).  He came to observe and report, but what he did was bring an anointed, prophetic, timely word to all of us.  He was able to say the things that only an outsider can say.  It was Nick who helped us move past the question so often asked by people of God in exile (“Why are we in exile?”) to instead ask “What is God up to in Exile?”  Nick didn’t just bring flavor to the series, but perspective on the shape and scope of our calling to the world.

To revisit “My Place in this World” with Nick Park, click here.

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