On Sunday we had the privilege of having Dr. Lee Beach with us. Lee is Associate Professor of Christian Ministry and Director or Spiritual Formation at McMaster Divinity College and is also the author of Church In Exile: Living In Hope After Christendom.
We had Lee with us because we have been on a journey the last month at City View talking about living faithfully as the church in exile. Yes, exile for Israel in the Old Testament was a physical dislocation; they lost their land, temple and king. Yet we have been talking that exile can also be a spiritual dislocation. We have spent a significant amount of time over the last month pointing to the shifts that have taken place in church and culture in the West and we have reexamined some of the beautiful stories throughout the bible that act as encouragement for us in our mission from the margins.
Lee is one of the leading voices in this idea of the church in exile and his wisdom and insight were truly helpful.
One of the questions that you could ask is: why talk about the church in exile? Why talk about the decline of the church in Canada and give insight to the research being done in the rise of the nones (those who now identify with no religious affiliation) and the dones (those who hold a fundamental belief in God but are done with the church)? We are doing this because it is important to know the context in which we seek to live out the mission of God. Paul was remarkable at knowing the context of his audience. We see this specifically when he goes to places like Philippi (a place that worshiped Caesar), Athens (a place that worshiped a multitude of deities) and Ephesus (a place that was controlled by the worship of Artemis). Paul knew the culture and was used by God to speak into that culture with a better story.
Simply put… we feel the same. If we want to be effective missionaries in London, Canada we need to know where our city is at culturally. To learn to live faithfully in exile means knowing the people, the places and the culture in which we incarnate. This is why we have dived in to THRIVING IN BABYLON: learning to live in exile.