Denver Seminary

Engage Magazine - Fall 2013

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CULTURE Redemption: Belonging as Movement Toward Believing Our experience with young adults in today's culture, especially the never-churched and anti-church who frequent Scum of the Earth Church in Denver, has been that if they are genuinely welcomed and sense they belong in the community, they ask why we are different from other Christian groups they've known. Thus, we have embraced a "belonging before believing before behaving" philosophy of ministry. For instance, after a recent evening service, many from church enjoyed dinner together at Pete's Greek Town. While there, Alethea introduced her new boyfriend and announced it was Derek's first ever time in a church. Could they ask questions while we ate? Or A "belonging before believing before behaving" philosophy is key to reaching the never-churched and anti-church. again: In the Scum Bike Shop on an average Sunday afternoon, church folks mingle with neighbors and friends. Conversation drifts around relationships and helmet laws. Jesus doesn't get much mention, but the urban crowd agrees it's pretty cool for a church to offer free bike repair. As newcomers learn from peers that faith in Jesus motivates us toward kingdom living, often they come to believe the good news of the Gospel. Only then can the power of the Holy Spirit help transform how they behave. Throughout the process, our prayers are intense and our conversations combine 100 percent grace and 100 percent truth. We aren't shocked when non-believers act like well, like sinners—and we ride the waves with those who have doubts and questions. Ministry in today's culture is risky. Young adults are highly transient and highly impressionable. Faith comes in fits and starts, and their questions are complex. We're environmentalists of ministry, striving to create a kingdom culture that is viable and sustaining. Fran Blomberg ADJUNCT PROFESSOR OF INTERCULTURAL MINISTRIES Fran Blomberg is on pastoral staff at Scum of the Earth Church. Reclaiming the Journey of Advent Christmas often appears in stores by the middle of July. As the rush and stress of the holiday quickly extends further and further into our year, many arrive at the season of Advent ready for it to be over before it has even begun. Too often, I have experienced this myself. The fast pace of life exposed the truth, as thoughts of wishing we could skip right by the season filled my mind. So, I began to pray: Lord, please help me find a better path on which to travel toward Christmas. Redemption of this increasingly commercialized season came to me by way of a new, yet ancient, road. It came to me through encountering and embracing a Celtic Advent. This age-old observance dates back to the sixth century and is celebrated over six weeks rather than only four. Starting the journey earlier made my preparation more intentional, and this Advent observance now included Thanksgiving. I desired to continue embracing the richness of modern Advent candles representing hope, peace, joy, and love, but I needed two more for the additional weeks. As I prayed about what they should represent, the answer came quickly. Not what they should represent, but Who they should represent. Living in hope, peace, joy, and love became realities because they were now products of Advent's foundation: God the Father and the Holy Spirit. For the past two years, I journeyed as the early Celtic Christians journeyed and have found the seasons of Advent and Christmas restored. Beginning on November 11 my once-empty canvas is now filled with Celtic art and design, prayers and poems, Scriptures and crosses, Trinitarian motifs, and a whole lot of holy anticipation rather than exhausted dread. What is so easily missed in our culture of hurry and stressed commercialism was redeemed and restored through this journey. I recovered the map the Celts followed and found the treasure they found: the treasure of Emmanuel—God with us. Jean McLachlan Hess DOCTOR OF MINISTRY Jean is a DMin graduate of Denver Seminary. Her upcoming Celtic Advent Devotional Book, with a foreword by Dr. Gordon MacDonald (DD), will be available in late October this year. ENGAGE  21

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