the three hardest words

April 22, 2006

I haven’t kept up with all of Leonard Sweet’s books the last few years. I sometimes find all of his word plays tiresome, and I didn’t like Summoned to Lead, which is his only recent one I’d read.

When I took a class with him a few weeks ago, he gave us all a copy of his latest, The Three Hardest Words. I read it, and liked it. Even though the idea of the metanarrative is challenged on postmodernity, he explains that it is more important than ever for Christianity. He goes on to break down the Christian metanarrative as I Love You — “the Christian metanarrative offers people a new identity (‘I’), a new integrity (‘love’), and a new intimacy (‘you’).” (pg 59)

Below are a few of the things that I underlined that are worth chewing on:
· When outsiders look at the ‘lifestyle choice’ of Christians, who spend their lives sitting in the same pew, singing the same songs, reciting the same words, smiling at the same people, listening to the same thoughts, and building bigger barns that all look the same, they scratch their heads in wonderment that anyone in her right mind would choose that kind of ‘life.’ (pg 29)

· Leadership is the art, not primarily of reaching people where they are, but of reaching people where they are not — but where God is calling them to be. (pg 38)

· But in worship, what are we really doing? We are flushing out that which is keeping us from abiding in The Presence, as we flesh out those things that keep us abiding in The Presence. Church is not here for us. We are here for the church, and the church is here for the world. The church is not a provider of religious goods and services. The church is a covenant community of people who together abide in The Presence. Worship is not all about the hour we’re together. Worship is all about the week we’ve been apart, and the week we’re about to enter. (pg 57)

· In the West, every child enters life legally defined as a separate entity. In the East, every child enters life legally defined by the network of relationships into which one is born. (pg 126) He goes on to describe how we give an individual birth certificate in the west, but eastern cultures add the child’s name to a family of record documents which ties the child to the family.

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