During the past couple years I have developed an appreciation and respect for Karina Kreminski and her writing. Her blog tells you what she is currently doing as a profession, “I am a Lecturer of Missional Studies and a part of the Tinsley Institute team at Morling College in Sydney. It is a centre for missions and missional studies helping to equip leaders to be on God’s mission in our world.”
Karina was kind enough to answer a few of my questions. My prayer is that her answers inspire and challenge you to join God in what he is doing in everyday life!
Question: What do you think are the key reasons so many churches have lost sight of the fact that they have been sent (John 17:18) into our culture instead of merely waiting for people to show up on Sunday morning?
Answer: I think that we live in a culture that fosters a consumerist worldview. This is a false narrative that we have believed as Christians which competes with the narrative of the kingdom of God. The fact is we can’t live out both stories and be faithful to the gospel. I also think that some of the leadership philosophy coming through in the 1980s for example encouraged a very pragmatic and corporate way of doing leadership in the church. We have not theologically critiqued some of these values very well in my opinion. I feel moreover that we have highlighted methodology over a focus on discipleship and embodied practice in our teaching and preaching as leaders. We need to understand the identity of the church which is that it is a body of people sent into the world by God on his mission. It is not a vendor of religious good and services as George Hunsberger has said.
Question: What motivates, inspires and empowers a person (or a church) to sacrificially love their neighborhood and their city?
Answer: I think we need to understand that the church is a part of the ‘ecology of relationships’ that exist in the broader neighbourhood. This is something that Paul Sparks is helping us to understand in his book The New Parish. Once we realise that “God with us” means that the image of God is found in everyone and also that God is active in our community, it should influence us to take action beyond the confines of the four walls of the church. So we need to get our thinking right but not just leave it there. Instead, we then take action and connect with what God is doing in our community.
Question: What are some practical ways that Christians can get out of their comfort zones and begin to live as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ in their neighborhoods?
Answer: Get to know your neighbours- literally! Who are the people that live right next door to you but you don’t even know their names? The Art of Neighbouring is a great book that can encourage us as the authors tell us to know our neighbours names and then practice hospitality towards them. Another thing we can do is volunteer at the local community centre. What are the programs that are already happening that Christians can get involved with? This is a great way to build friendships. We need to focus on making friends rather than simply ‘connecting’ or ‘networking’ with people. Engage in missional habits like prayer walking so that God shows you his heart for the community in which you live. You will be surprised at what God reveals to you as you walk around you neighbourhood.
Question: How would you encourage a person who says they are simply too busy to get to know and love their neighbors?
Answer: Yes this is really an issue. The fact is that there is no way around this one really other than to make time for building relationships with people. Think of one activity you could stop doing or limit such as watching TV and then give more time to connecting with people. It shovel come naturally rather than forced. Be intentional as you step outside your home and God gives you an opportunity as you bump into your neighbour who you haven’t seen for some time. Sometimes it’s simply about being intentional in the everyday moments rather than carving out more time to build relationships.