• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Out of office and out of context

I was on a hiking trail with my wife in southeastern France when it hit me.  It was an idea, an innovative idea let’s say, for how we could structure a training time with a group of summer interns.  Of course, I was “out of the office” on vacation and was supposedly not to be thinking about work related matters, but the idea just seemed to come together at the moment. 

I’m sure that being on a “pilgrimage” trail to the chapel of St Pancras helped in this process.  You may remember that St Pancras was a Roman citizen who converted to Christianity and was martyred for his faith at the age of 14 (304 AD).  I’m sure that the book I had read during the week had provided some necessary input.  Maybe you, like me, use vacations to read more widely and broadly since the time is there.  And I’m sure that the idea would be worthy of a discussion because innovative ideas and processes are refined and improved in community.  However, in thinking back over the whole process that led me to this idea, I realized it was more than just the location, the resources or the innovative plan.  I was “out of context”.

What I mean by that is getting out of my usual life and ministry “context” allowed me to look at an idea, plan or ministry project from a different perspective.  Often I (we) have a tendency to tread the same water in discussions about new ideas.  Within our given “context”, we may not perceive unique avenues to pursue in discussion.  We may find ourselves immediately turning to certain reasons why an idea, event or plan will not work.  We might hear ourselves say, for example, “It’s not the right time of year,” or “We don’t have the resources,” or “I just don’t have the time to give to that.”

Granted that these may be true at certain times, but stepping “out of context” from time to time would free us to consider other ways to address ministry needs and concerns.  You don’t have to physically step “out of context” as I did while on vacation to hold this kind of discussion, but I would challenge your team or your field to look back over any recent idea or project that was set aside, and ask the question as to whether your discussion was limited to just “in context” thinking.

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