Getting Your Feet Wet
Introduction to the “Getting Your Feet Wet” Series
What’s this all about?
The first two studies in the “Getting Your Feet Wet” series are designed to foster important conversations within the life of congregations and parishes. They begin with the assumption that the church in our day needs to think carefully and discuss openly what it means to be the church. Just as it’s difficult to imagine that a business, school or athletic team could accomplish its purpose if
participants had very different and possibly competing understandings of what that purpose was, so it is with the church. If the church gathers each week with vastly different and competing understandings of what it means to be the church, it’s hard to imagine that things will go well. These first two studies, therefore, focus on two important issues. The first study, “The Shape of Our Lives,” explores the many ways in which formation is always happening whether we are aware
of it or not. This study’s guiding assumption is twofold: first, that the church is called to be a community of formation; and second, that this calling is always lived out in particular social contexts where other kinds of formation are also taking place. Are we aware of how our lives are being shaped simply by living everyday life in the ways we are encouraged to do? Are we aware of the ways that the cultural formation we undergo may be at odds with our call to be formed into the image of Christ? It’s one thing, of course, to acknowledge that we are always being shaped and formed by the world around us; it’s quite another to consider deeply how this may be taking place in very particular ways in our daily lives. Once we are clearer about the particular ways in which formation happens, we are in a better position to discuss the matters raised in the second study, “The Shape of God’s Reign.” In this second study, the central questions are these: What do we think the purpose of the church is and where did our notions about this come from? Is it possible that our host culture has shaped us to think about the church in ways that are unhelpful if not unfaithful? What is God doing in the world and how have we as the church been called to participate with God in that work? These are weighty matters indeed, but we take them up not primarily as matters of intellectual curiosity, but as a means of discerning where God is at work in our lives and where further growth and maturity might be required.