Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three (Four) Loci of Living

I’m picking up a Driscoll thought here (though I’m not sure it's his to begin with, but that’s whence I derive it). Basically, the thesis is this: people center their lives around three places: where they live, where they work, and where they play. People live where they can afford to, work where they have to, and play where they want to.

When you expand that concept a little, you also realise that people tend to idolise in one of those categories, which may also then form a locus of escapism from the other two. Some idolise their home, either in terms of their family, or in terms of a sanctuary of retreat. Some idolise their work, and may invest themselves in their work for escapist purposes as well. Some, and I suspect the majority, idolise their leisure.

Enter stage right: a christian. Their life consists of three loci, but preferably four. They live somewhere, they work somewhere, and they worship somewhere. Now, granted that each of those may be defective in some measure (there are homeless, unemployed, and un-churching christians), but that is the generic shape of their life. They may also, and I would suggest should, have a fourth locus of play.

Enter stage left: a missional christian. That’s the guy or gal who has figured out that the reason God doesn’t just short-cut them out of this world and into the party-with-Jesus is that God’s gracious plan of redemption involves reaching lost people through imperfect saved ones. That should reorient every single one of those loci. Home, the geographic place of family and neighbours, must now be seen as a possible place to extend gracious love. Work, likewise. Especially these two to the people who idolise and/or escape in those loci.

But it’s church and play that are the most important to re-think. church is generally not the place the lost turn up to. When they do though, they should find it a real place of welcome. Secondly, a christian whose loci are only home, work, and church, is in danger of seeing ‘church’ as the place they do ‘ministry’, and so collapsing any sense of mission in their life into edification-only. The place of play is key to missional strategy. If that’s the place that most lost people are escaping to and idolising at, it’s where they are most to be found, and most to be engaged. It also happens to be the easiest place to ‘get into’. Breaking into a workplace or home setting is difficult and restricted, but joining or entering or situating oneself in a place of leisure is relatively easy. Choose a place of play, commit to engaging lost people there, building relationships of trust and love, and living the gospel before them, in word and deed.

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