A few days ago, Len Hjalmarson posted this comparison between Settler Theology and Pioneer Theology. He describes it as “a book excerpt of Wes Seeliger’s ‘Western Theology,’ from servant.org, with adaptations by Brennan Manning as found in his ‘Lion and Lamb: The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus,’ p.37ff”
Once you’ve read it, I’m sure you’ll agree this is worth a read just for the part where you need to decide if the Holy Spirit is more like a saloon girl or a buffalo hunter.
The analogy brings back some memories for me though… around 11 years ago when we struck out to plant a new church congregation, this was the word of the hour which we had received prophetically as the challenge to live as pioneers and not as settlers. As one of the leaders at that time, I stood and encouraged people from Hebrews 11, particularly verses 8-16, where we find Abraham “looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God,” and we are challenged like the faithful of Hebrews 11, to acknowledge that we are “strangers and exiles on the earth.” We are on a sojourn, just passing through. I guess this means I’m a pioneer at heart.
This Sunday was the 25th anniversary for the senior pastor of our church being with us, and he spoke, reminiscing about all that’s gone on as the church grew from 60 to 600; he also spoke about Abraham from Hebrews 11. For me this has something of an extra meaning… the evening before, we’d met in a home church with a few couples who are in different stages of detox and wondering about their church future. No firm plans to be a new church together or anything just set a date to do it again. This was a stunning “confluence of circumstance” as well… I hadn’t planned to tell them the complete story of why we had just left the congregation we were in (the one we went to plant 10 years ago), at least not until it became (at least in my mind) a perfect illustration of the topic of discussion, one which had been prepared by someone else ahead of time. It’s another thread, and after all, God speaks in threads, which I’m continuing weave together… but there’s less and less suspense about what it’s becoming.