Robb and I have had some conversations recently that reveal something interesting about world view. The first interaction had to do with something our musicians did in a recent meeting. They played "I Saw the Light," accompanied by banjo and mandolin. It was fun. We clapped. Symphonic meets in a warehouse in a dingy, industrial, urban setting. We're not in Texas or Tennessee. No urban cowboys here. Country music cd's are more likely to be used as coasters than played among our people. Now the comment was something about how "some people talk about contextualizing, but you guys really do it." I'm not really sure of the exact meaning of these words. Contextualizing would seem to imply we were getting the right type of music to the people who would embrace it, but bluegrass is blue for us, not greener. As we talked it over Robb and I agreed the comment was really meant as a compliment. The speaker really loves us and likes what we're doing, but he lacks the right way of expressing it. In his world, words like 'contextualizing' are important and even vital. He got so excited about what he saw in our meeting he wanted to identify with it and praise it as something good, so he took it and tried to fit it into his own world view basket. It wasn't a good fit. We are not contextualizing anything, we are just being something.
The second talk had to do with preaching and teaching. Somebody asked us how we decide who preaches in our meetings. We explained what we understand about preparing to speak to our people. Robb introduced me to a new way of thinking about a style of preaching I've been doing a long time, but could never put my finger on what I was doing. I hate the idea of planning months or years worth of sermons because it seems inorganic to me. I don't like series preaching for the same reason. On the other hand I always felt like I lacked structure. Robb's understanding of series preaching gave me a metaphor that works for me: we seek after God's lead in a particular area, say joy, or being on mission, etc., then we go digging in that vein until we get everything out of the ground. A series of talks begins with breaking ground and ends whenever we run out of ore. It works for us. We don't always decide the way we are going to preach beforehand. We are both in the mine from the time we hit the vein and we both progress into it in different ways using different methods. We always find big nuggets on our own, even if he digs to it from one side and I get there from a completely different direction. This means we may share a message together. He may lead and I may follow. We may both speak together, or one may take a meeting alone. We don't really know what is going to happen, we just know there is a Person who is supervising the mine and wants to get the ore out and in view worse than we do. Now that is hard to explain to some people. The guy having lunch with us said, "Yeah, I've heard of a church where the senior pastor and the staff plan out the messages together. He tells them what he is wanting to speak on and then they all talk about it and work out the messages and he preaches them. Its a team preaching thing." No. That's not what we're doing. This guy was really sincere and you could tell he was interested in what we were doing, but it was so strange to him he couldn't get it. He took out his church world view basket and tried to put us in it. Not a good fit.
Our conclusion about these conversations is something like this: people don't mind hearing about or experiencing new things or new ways of doing things as long as they can fit it into their basket; their world view. But when you try to take away someone's basket and tell them it isn't going to work to catch what you're doing or saying they will fight you. World view baskets take a long time to weave. We invest a lot in them. We hold them tightly. And if you think you don't have a basket you are the most susceptible to ignorantly holding onto one. When things don't fit in our ears or eyes it isn't helpful to simply reject them or adapt them, although some things do need to be rejected or adapted. A person with Christ as their center need not fear strange things. Jesus was the most strange thing that ever happened on earth.