Shifting the Goal from Winning to Worship: Six Practices to Reorient Yourself to God’s Kingdom
Each day, we are bombarded by headlines like these: Gospel sing-along in Tennessee faces Confederate controversy after photos surface online Savior no more? Distraught Dems turn on Mueller after stumbling hearing Report doesn't exonerate Trump, Mueller testifies, and he could be charged after leaving office Evangelical denomination expels entire congregation over LGBT policy These stories compete for our allegiance and tempt us to believe in a reality where winning is everything—even if it destroys lives and our most precious relationships. Is this the story we confess? I’m skeptical. As Christians, our story is of a world created by a good, giving, and forgiving God – a world deeply marred by the ugliness of sin but being redeemed even more beautifully by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. To which story will we be faithful? This is our most critical, daily choice. Why? Because our movements—our behaviors and practices—will naturally align with that story. Which story do your practices reflect? I confess mine often reflect the city of humanity more than the city of God. For instance, my watching and meditating on the news instead of on the word of God reveals that what I, in practice, believe to be relevant and important is what the news tells me. And it usually tells me the “other” side is evil and uneducated and that I am righteous and intelligent. Like it or not, the storylines and practices we inhabit both reveal and inform what we value, and they dictate how we negotiate our life together. So, how can we reorient our lives toward God’s kingdom? The only way out of the seductive cultural narrative back into God’s life is through an intentional reappropriation of the Christian story and its practices. Just as a gardener prepares the ground for the seed to grow, Christian practices prepare the ground for the Spirit’s work. By intentionally engaging the practices that flow out of the story, we can recuperate our ability to live into Christ’s example of self-giving love and restore our theological imagination the world so desperately needs. Whether it’s reading Scripture over morning coffee, praying throughout the day, or biting our tongues when we’re tempted speak contemptuously toward one of God’s beloved children, if we intentionally align our practices with God’s kingdom, we avoid falling into practices that fuel our divisiveness and erode our love for God and one other. I invite you to try these six formative practices to help you retain or regain that love and shift your goal from winning toward worship. The world—the church and the broader culture—needs us to be a reconciled and reconciling people. They need us to embody the good news of Christ’s victory over death. We need to demonstrate that we don’t need to win, because he’s already won. Again, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5, Christians have been given the ministry of reconciliation. And there is nothing more hopeful, relevant, or beautiful in our polarized age than reconciliation. This moment of ugly division is our moment—and our opportunity—to display the beauty of Christ. I look forward to exploring that opportunity with you, either at our Annual Conference, Sept. 12-14 at The Prince Conference Center in Grand Rapids, or any weekday at our office for morning prayer. Peace of Christ, Michael Please join us in giving thanks for: Those who attended our Colossian Way Leader Training in May. We are blessed by their contributions and applaud their passion for helping their faith communities become a place of reconciliation. Fruitful engagement within our five Political Talk pilot groups. Pilot group participants were generous with their time, hearts, and ideas. Their feedback will be instrumental as we finalize the curriculum, which we anticipate launching in January 2020. Our newest team member, Emily Stroble. Emily is the Development and Communications Officer and brings with her rich knowledge and experience that will help us further our mission. New board members Mycal Brickhouse and Gene Miyamoto. Their diverse expertise, insights, and backgrounds are a gift to us. A growing relationship with community leader Tru Pettigrew and former Cary, NC police chief Tony Godwin, which arose from our participation in a Duke Divinity School event. These courageous men entered into a conversation around racial tensions in their community following the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. They will share their story of relationship across difference at a community event in September, Continuing the Conversation: Listen, Learn and Love across Difference. We invite you to join us. Admission is free, and no registration is required. The generosity and hospitality of First Christian Reformed Church, Pilgrim Rest Missionary Baptist Church and True Light Baptist Church, our co-hosts for Continuing the Conversation. The Christian Reformed Church in North America, which soon will be adding The Colossian Forum to its List of Non-Denominational Agencies Approved for Offerings. Organizations on this list have been reviewed and approved by the annual synod of the Christian Reformed Church. Please join us in praying for: Our participation in the Inspire 2019 conference August 1-3 in Windsor, ON. That we will help fortify faith and inspire hope to live into our Christian commitments, even as we disagree. Pastors participating in the Convocation on the Rural Church in Myrtle Beach, SC August 5-7. We pray they will find rich ways of addressing issues that are important for transforming rural churches and communities and sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Open ears, minds, and hearts as TCF President Michael Gulker delivers a presentation on The Colossian Way at Duke Divinity School Alumni Day August 27. A fruitful experience for attendees at our upcoming second Annual Conference. We pray that through plenary speakers, interactive workshops, and networking with other thoughtful Christians, those who come will continue to grow in their understanding of conflict and how our approach to it can honor God and increase their capacity to love one another. A meaningful opportunity for change in our community through the event, Continuing the Conversation: Listen, Learn and Love across Difference. TCF Chief Programming and Innovation Officer Rob Barrett and our partners, who are doing the delicate work of revising our Political Talk curriculum. We pray that God would guide their thoughts and words so the curriculum will be a blessing and helpful tool to faith communities worldwide. Chris De Vos, TCF’s VP of Partnerships and Care, as he prepares to offer a conflict as opportunity workshop with the board of a private family foundation later this year. Our efforts to secure funding to expand The Colossian Way to Kenya and China. We have identified gracious partners, secured commitments, and have capacity to support this project but lack the financial resources to bring it to fruition.