DMINLGP

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

What Is Your Occupation?

Written by: on May 17, 2017

First Encounter

In September 2015, our doctoral program heard Dr. Percy gave an incredible speech that continues to reflect his character and consistency in his writing. Percy, in his presentation, challenged us as ministry leaders with this question: What’s your occupation? While the question was rhetorical in nature, his argument was clear. He stated two things in his discussion: 1) “We’re supposed to be occupied with God and (2) “We’re supposed to be occupied with what we believe God is occupied with.” As an ecclesiologist, he is concerned with the ordinary things of the church that we often fail to give attention. In his 2016 presentation to our doctoral group at Christ Church in Oxford, Percy reiterated his fascination with mood, atmosphere, paint and smell (e.g. How and why a church building might smell). He even joked that people smell, which makes our Church authentic but stated that “a good church actually has space for people who can’t fit in anywhere else.” Percy in his book Shaping the Church stated that “Christianity is a faith of the senses” because we have “intimations of the divine (Shaping Church, 242, Kindle).

Percy’s book Shaping the Church is more of a sequel to his book Engaging with Contemporary Culture (2005), in which he presented ecclesiology with anthropology, sociology, and culture. This new book looks at ecclesiology with sacramentality, church growth and pastoral theology (well, the practical side of ministry). I mentioned earlier about the consistency of Percy in his writings and convictions. In his book The Future Shapes of Anglicanism, he argued that there are new experiences of space and time, tensions between globalism and regionalism, social cohesion and consumerism. Percy stated that “there are new instabilities of value, meaning and identity, and considerable tension between the past, present and future – and all linked, seemingly to our capacity to be distracted by small matters, whilst losing sight of the larger picture.”[1] For us to shape the church, we must consider the three perspectives Percy offered that contributes to ecclesiology. While his writings show influences from an Anglican perspective, the theology is consistent with the need for change (or “re-imagining the church).

Implicit (not explicit) Theology

Percy believes in education and is very educated, which affords him the opportunity to serve as Dean of a college. However, he believes implicit theology “is deduced from operant religious practice rather than formal religious propositions.”[2] Therefore, we cannot only rely on formality to help us engage the church. When we consider cultural Christians, their belief or acceptance of religion is determined by their individual culture, which gives practical theology a stance in its relationship with systematic theology. While we live in a world of academia, culture often interacts with church life and theology.

Fresh Expressions (Relating and Mutating)

When I watch these award shows online, they often say, “I want to thank God” and some winners at the prestigious Grammy Awards often tell stories of singing in church choirs. Percy reminds us that whether people attend churches or not, they relate to the church so even if church attendance declines, the organic growth of Christianity remains possible. Percy has confidence that if we trust the resilient nature of religion, everything will work itself out. This brings me back to Percy’s idea of occupation and being occupied with what God desires and become flexible with aggressive church growth strategies and offer ministry to the needy in our society. The church will grow when we engage culture and apply patience.

Threatening Anglicanism?

Percy suggested that there is a ‘hurricane of controversy’ but offers a resolution of “mild and yet ardent temperate Anglicanism.”[3] His reasoning is that Anglican via media provides the necessary wisdom because of the qualities needed to manage “a complex nexus of competing convictions and emotions that cannot be easily resolved.”[4] I’m not familiar with the practices of Anglicanism because I’ve been in my Pentecostal cocoon since a child but Percy believes there’s an “Anglican genius of ‘directed plurality.’”[5] One part of this ‘genius’ is the management of emotions, which is the goal in the ecclesial polity. “Extreme feelings, when voiced, can lead to extreme reactions. And extreme reactions, when allowed full-vent, can make situations unstable.”[6]

We could argue that many of the practices, while labeled Anglican are more biblical than denominational. There’s no doubt that we should always evaluate and re-evaluate our church growth dynamics but we should also inquire on how to facilitate diversity among Pentecostals and Charismatics. Percy’s writing was very intriguing as it shows the need (in his context) to recover Anglican qualities of “patience, forbearance and catholicity, moderation and a genuine love for the reticulate blend of diversity and unity that forms so much of the richness of Anglican life.”[7] It is always a tremendous opportunity to learn about different tribal influences and how it affect our biblical agenda. After having met Dr. Percy and share in various theological experiences, it allows for a greater appreciation of his work. As we continue in our pursuit of Christ, we should always remember our occupation as ministry leaders.

 

 

[1] Percy, The Future Shapes of Anglicanism, 179, Kindle.

[2] Percy, Shaping the Church, 6.

[3] Ibid., 172.

[4] Ibid., 139.

[5] Ibid., 141.

[6] Ibid., 144.

[7] Ibid., 172.

About the Author

mm

Garfield Harvey

Garfield O. Harvey devotes himself to studies in cultural intelligence (CQ), global leadership and cultural anthropology. During his doctoral studies at George Fox University, he developed CQ Worship to help ministry leaders manage the tension of leading corporate worship with cultural intelligence. His research on worship brings a fresh perspective that suggests corporate worship begins the moment a church engages a community.

2 responses to “What Is Your Occupation?”

  1. Thank you for the Hong Kong reminder and what Percy taught us there. So so good.
    Based on your blog, would you say God is occupied with growing different churches?
    Would you say church growth paradigms are more for cultural christians?

  2. mm Marc Andresen says:

    Garfield,

    Dr. Percy makes a case for being “elastic” at times, in that relationship between implicit and explicit theology.

    Where in the Pentecostal church do you see the most tension in the regard?

Leave a Reply to Aaron Peterson Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *