A friend who I met here in the suburbs of Chicago moved to Nebraska several years ago. We recently met again to have coffee during a visit he made to Wheaton. This friend has become a really dedicated missional-ecumenist who believes in spiritual renewal, evangelism and the catholic church. Along with others he has planned a men's ecumenical mission into the countryside of rural Nebraska to follow in the footsteps of the seventy-two (Luke 10 ) that Jesus sent out two-by-two. For some evangelicals this sounds a bit too mystical and it is not based on a clear command rooted in the text cited. Yet many others down thru the ages have adopted a “simple” approach to evangelism that has captured the idea of Luke 10 and applied it in faith, hope and love. My friend writes, “I am extremely excited to have such a great group of men from a wide variety of churches signed up. This year we even have one Catholic joining us which should be a blessing.”
This brother added in an email: “I am savoring Your Church Is Too Small and find it very applicable to my world. I have stopped to ponder your words many times so the reading is a ‘slow cook.’ I am particularly taken with the ‘relational’ aspect to our faith and our unity that you discuss. I hope we can model that kind of unity on our mission.” Pray with me that this will be true.
After I wrote my friend back he wrote the following: “We feel God has redirected us to Loup City in a remarkable way. We had planned to head to Comstock and witness during their music festival but it was canceled just a week ago. It is an ecumenical group of men who meet weekly for prayer and bible study who will be taking care of us in Loup City. It is these same men who have experienced deep suffering and who have supported each other and prayed for God to move in their community. We feel it is an honor to return to Loup City having walked to this location two years ago. It will be loaded with people as Polish Days are being celebrated on the weekend we arrive. Hooking into a festival is part of our evangelistic strategy as well. So, I thank you for your prayers. I smile when I think of dear St. Francis looking down on our little band of brothers! Like him we walk light (little provisions), and we seek to walk right (in holiness), and with delight!”
I do think St. Francis is pleased with such an effort. I do believe this Franciscan approach has more than a little support in the Christian tradition and the teaching of Jesus. Frankly, I love it when I hear about people who read the Scripture in this way. The “scientific” rationality of so much evangelical preaching has left us powerless. We do not read the Gospels as applicable to us but to another age. A good deal could be learned from St. Francis on this very point. For that matter, we would also be learning a great deal from listening to Jesus on this point, which come to think of it is what we all need to do more of these days.