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What Did You Go Out to See?
Since the days of Columba, Patrick, and Augustine of Canterbury, the British Isles have been home to more than their share of missionaries. So it may be appropriate that as the Christian Vision Project turns its attention to Christianity's global scope and mission, we begin with an essay by Andrew Jones, a globe-hopping consultant on church planting who lives in the Orkney Islands off Scotland's northern coast. Jones, best known as the writer of the weblog tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com, is an irrepressible New Zealander who chronicles the wide and sometimes wild world of innovative efforts to proclaim the gospel in the midst of "emerging global culture." He is the first respondent to our "big question" for 2007, posed as Western Christians adjust to their minority status in global Christianity, and as technologies of travel and communication make cross-cultural encounters ever more accessible to the majority world and minority world alike: What must we learn, and unlearn, to be agents of God's mission in the world?
Pilgrim, Pilgrim, where have you been?
I've been to London to visit the emerging church scene.
Pilgrim, Pilgrim, what did you there?
I found a little queen sitting on her chair.
What did we go out to see? The same thing we always see. The same thing, but in a different place. We seek out sameness. We go to a foreign city to eat noodles, and end up with a hamburger and fries. We know that global church growth is largely happening in the margins, among ordinary people, without big budgets or impressive credentials. But when we go out to worship with the "indigenous" church in Colombia or Malaysia or Italy, we end up sitting on a pew singing expat choruses with a national pastor who has colonized himself for our approval. To be discovered. To be seen by people who do not have eyes to see.
We search for the ubiquitous but discover the obvious. We hunt the exotic but are haunted by the echo of our expectations. We seek judges but we see kings. Or in the allegory ...