DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Change lanes please.

Written by: on June 20, 2019

(Martyn Percy Post from 2 weeks ago- go back for my Camacho post “We’ve Got the Bling”)

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine and brilliant communicator preached at our church. This woman, while not a pastor or a professor, spoke as a committed life-long Christ follower about her call into the world. She shared her journey of God speaking to her (which is rare for her) to go outside of the church and love people she would not normally be inclined toward. The result of this has been an education on holding both love and truth together when she initially held truth as her primary focus. In addition, she has entered into three life changing friendships with a man who is gender-queer, a woman of color, and a woman who is bisexual and on the opposite end of the political spectrum as her. These friendships have enriched her perspective while not distancing her from the authority of Scripture.

When my friend preached, she went through Scripture, revealing Jesus’ love for those on the outside. And then, one of her final points, “there are no others.” Sher reminded us that if we are to love our neighbor, we have to remember that everyone is our neighbor and no one is out of bounds for God to love through us. Her message was convicting and encouraging to the congregation. We see that our fellow congregant is taking God seriously and has immersed herself in community, and is exhorting us to do the same.

I mention this story of my friend because so many of us stay in our lanes of church, academy, or culture at large. My friend experienced God moving her into oncoming traffic and she had to figure out how to go with their flow while maintaining her own identity. By being in proximity, she was unable to stay in her lane. She was also unable to hold on to her rigid black and white thinking of Christ and the world.

When reading Reasonable Radical? Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy, I noticed a similarity between my friend and Martyn Percy. Percy also does not stay in his lane. As the dean and a professor at Oxford, Percy also maintains his ordination as priest in the Anglican Church. A contextual theologian, he is concerned with serving the church and academy while elevating them through engagement with culture. “Martyn does theology, sociology and anthropology not from the vantage point of the preacher in the pulpit or the academic in the ivory tower, but from within the communities of practice he is addressing—church, society and academy.”[1]

Percy’s challenge to the church and the academy is to engage deeply in the world, at least as much as in the world of theology. Holding the constant tension of living an embodied theology is to be emulated. As the editors of Reasonable Radical? note in the introduction, “With the practical theologian, Percy is as interested in what people do (or in the case of the charismatics—what they sing) as in what they say. What they do (or sing) is often more revealing of their theology, then the formal statement of faith found on a website.”[2]

Percy’s response to the section on Ecclesiology communicates his position of the necessity of lived theology: “Lindbeck’s theory of theology—its performative dimension as something that is “cultural-linguistic”: it ‘gains power and meaning insofar as it is embodied in the total gestalt of community life and action.’ There is the irony for the theologian, and for the church. For in gaining an understanding of how the world might imagine beliefs and practice to cohere, one begins to develop a deeper sense—that they may not, in fact, neatly mesh at all.”[3]

While not everyone loves Percy, he definitely has a legacy he is producing through his writing and other’s writings about him and his work. One reviewer notes, “To my mind, he is one of the great, pastor-theologians of the Christian Church today, who has integrated faith with wide-ranging learning in disciplines sometimes regarded as implicitly hostile to faith and spirituality. As a result, his work makes spirituality, churches, and theology attractive, and sometimes exciting!”[4]

Reading Percy’s words and those spoken about him is a reminder of how theology and practice ought to be. The idea that the body and the mind would be separate is nonsensical yet it happens often in the church. The beliefs of many denominations, my own included, are often much weightier than their practice, and eventually become some mesh of the two that, as Percy remarks, may have little value to the world. Particularly when looking at the realities of a changing world demographically, the church must be present, as my friend is, to understand how to connect and serve from a Christ centric posture. Let’s pull the car over so we can observe what’s going on and be available to the culture, regardless of our usual lane identification.

 

 

[1] Markham, Ian S.. Reasonable Radical?: Reading the   lWritings of Martyn Percy . Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition. Location 158

[2] Markham, Ian S.. Reasonable Radical?: Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy . Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.Location 149

[3] Markham, Ian S.. Reasonable Radical?: Reading the Writings of Martyn Percy . Pickwick Publications, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[4] https://www-tandfonline-com.georgefox.idm.oclc.org/doi/full/10.1080/20440243.2019.1581515

About the Author

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Trisha Welstad

Trisha is passionate about investing in leaders to see them become all God has created them to be. As an ordained Free Methodist elder, Trisha has served with churches in LA and Oregon, leading as a pastor of youth and spiritual formation, a church planter, and as a co-pastor of a church restart. Trisha currently serves as leadership development pastor at Northside Community Church in Newberg, OR. Over the last five years Trisha has directed the Leadership Center, partnering with George Fox and the Free Methodist and Wesleyan Holiness churches. The Leadership Center is a network facilitating the development of new and current Wesleyan leaders, churches and disciples through internships, equipping, mentoring and scholarship. In collaboration with the Leadership Center, Trisha serves as the director of the Institute for Pastoral Thriving at Portland Seminary and with Theologia: George Fox Summer Theology Institute. She is also adjunct faculty at George Fox University. Trisha enjoys throwing parties, growing food, listening to the latest musical creations by Troy Welstad and laughing with her two children.

14 responses to “Change lanes please.”

  1. Dave Watermulder says:

    Nice post, Trisha,
    I thought your story about the woman sharing at your church hit the right notes about being bold enough to not just stay in our own lanes. I know that this is an easy temptation once we are farther along in our careers, or more settled in our communities or more comfortable with what we are doing. Are there ways that your new/transitional season will lead you out of your lane, or to cross lines in some ways?

    • mm Trisha Welstad says:

      Dave, thanks for your response to my Martyn Percy blog. Yes, I think I will end up a bit more out of my lane in this next season as we will be putting William in school for the first time and breaking into a new neighborhood that is much more diverse. I am excited to get to know people and yet, I recognize that we are the outsiders in many ways.

  2. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Trish,

    I very much hope we have the opportunity to still meet Martyn Percy, and of course his wife, too. I am so bummed for everything they are going through. I cannot imagine the challenges they face…

    We made it–last Blog post. Monday’s last Zoom. Wow! Can you believe it? Thanks for all you have contributed to this Cohort!!

  3. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Trish, great ending analogy.

    You’re right that this is how theology should be and I think a lot of this program is designed Around getting us closer to be able to do what Percy does.

    • mm Trisha Welstad says:

      Kyle, right. I wonder how much more we can do practical theology than before. I am interested to hear how you are living out some of Percy’s texts as it was a good one for you!

  4. Shawn Hart says:

    Trisha, you touched on a discussion we had in bible class a few weeks ago, so I pose this question to you:

    Where should clergy/Christians draw the line in interacting with those in the world and worldly teaching?

    • mm Trisha Welstad says:

      Shawn, I am not sure where the line is drawn, or at least I am not sure if I could draw it for everyone but I guess the principal I go with, is know the word, listen to the Spirit and as soon as I feel a sense of conviction then make space to hear from the Lord and wise guides who love God as well. I would rather be with people sharing the love of God too much than not enough.

  5. mm Mike says:

    Trish,
    I like your friend’s notion of preaching to “those on the outside.” That was the ministry standard for Christ during His 3 years of presenting the Gospel and preparing his Disciples to become disciple multipliers of multipliers.
    I liked the Percy book and hope we can meet him still, with all the spiritual warfare he is going through. To be expected, but sad to see for sure.
    I like the contextual theology discussions by Percy and appreciate how he is not afraid to take on science, sociology, anthropology, and others for the purpose of drawing people towards Christ and advancing the Kingdom of God.
    Congrats on finishing 2 years! See you in London.
    Stand firm,
    Mike

    • mm Trisha Welstad says:

      Mike, it seems Percy is a great example of integrating Mark Knoll’s text on the Scandal of the Evangelical Mind. All of the cross-discipline work he does is really grounding and encouraging. I am glad you noted that too.

  6. Greg says:

    Trisha.

    I was struck by the statement of your friend, “there are no others”. We often use the word different (rather than weird) to describe cultural observations. I am drawn to the fact that different from yourself reflects the creativity of God rather than a distinction of us and them. (Or at least it should). I often say (I am sure I stole it from someone) that we have a hard time hating people we are praying for and are building a relationship with. It is easy to have separation and division of what we think is acceptable when we have no one in our life that is different from ourselves. Love your last sentence about pulling the car over. It reminded me that my father used to half heartedly joke that the biggest detriment to community in the US was the garage door opener. We no longer had to get out of our car with the potential to talk with our weird neighbors or engage in their lives. We could live in our own home and work without ever letter other we didn’t want in. Thanks Trisha for you friendship, encouragement, and laughter through these years.

    • mm Trisha Welstad says:

      Greg, I like what your dad said! I think I agree with him. Also, I wish people hung out more in their front yards rather than in the back (in the US at least). There’s so much avoidance of one another by hiding in our private space. I wonder what that is like for you and your neighborhood? Also, I am grateful for our friendship and for continued connection through our group chat at the least.

  7. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Trish! Clearly your blog is impacting all of us – this was my line of impact: “God moving her into oncoming traffic”. I need to meditate on this thought and pray to be moved into that oncoming traffic. Thank you for having the heart for “the others” – even though there aren’t others lol. You are a spiritual soul sister and I’m a better person for knowing you!

    • mm Trisha Welstad says:

      Thanks Jean. I have been constantly encouraged and felt your blog always pushed me a little further to think beyond my own boundaries, for which I have been so glad Jean! Thanks for using your professor hat in this ministry world so often. You are a minister for sure, and I am grateful for our friendship!
      Also, love how you are including the outsiders through your DMIN project!

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