By: Jamie Winship
I was walking around Seattle on New Year’s Eve, thanking the Lord for all His faithfulness to me over the past year and seeking His wisdom about the year ahead. I believe very strongly in the communicative efficacy of the Word of God, the Spirit of God and the People of God, and it was that beautiful combination that drew me to anticipate 2019 to be a year of transformation for ourselves and our city.
Now, for the cynical among us, the concept of “transformation” may have become cliché. Therefore, I offer a few tips from Writer’s Digest (and my own interpretation) as to how to prevent our C3 2019 transformation story from becoming cliché.
Avoid Stolen or Borrowed Tales — Be your own story.
Resist The Lure of the Sensational — Be real.
Turn a Stereotype on its Head — Be truth-filled.
Tell the Story Only You Can Tell — Be your true self.
Keep it Real by Taking it Slow — Be patient.
Deliver Your Story From Circumstantial Convenience — Be fearless.
Elevate the Ordinary — Be imaginative.
Rescue Gratuitous Scenes From Melodramatic Action — Be above victimhood.
Curb Melodrama with Substance — Be authentic.
With this in mind, consider the individual-transformational challenge of Romans 12:1-2: “Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational, logical, intelligent act of worship.
And do not be conformed to this world any longer with its superficial values and customs, but be transformed and progressively changed, as you mature spiritually by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect in His plan and purpose for you.”
Without individual, Christ-centered, transformation, community transformation is a non sequitur. For this reason, our C3 forum members should be committed to and experiencing continual, assessable, personal renewal through confession (truth-telling), repentance (mind change) and transformation (form change). The Knowing Rediscovered video series is one suggestion in helping our forums become transformative. Other C3-specific study helps are to come.
Once we are experiencing regular individual transformation, then our forums themselves can become powerful transformative agents within our city.
By following the example of our King, who entered the world impoverished and without pretense; in the company of domesticated livestock and mid-night shift shepherds, in a backward village on the east end of nowhere significant. Our King, who grew to gather together the most haphazard, poorly educated, fear-based, self-centered, xenophobic, small group available, and transformed them into a disciple-making movement that transformed their world. Jesus, like the Prophets who foretold His coming, demonstrated the strategic goal and transformative power of becoming a creative minority.
In his massive, 12-volume work A Study of History, British historian, Arnold Toynbee, formulated a complex theory of the growth and demise of civilizations. Toynbee demonstrates convincingly that the ideas and methods for meeting the challenges for a society come from a creative minority. The effectiveness of the creative minority, according to Toynbee, comes from the group’s commitment to being continuously creative and NOT seeking to become a dominant majority. Once dominance and control become the goal of any community within a civilization, the civilization begins to decline and eventually dies. For Toynbee, there is a difference between the material and spiritual dimensions of a civilization. Precisely because they have a spiritual dimension they are open to the human ability to recover. That gift, said Toynbee, belonged to creative minorities, history’s great problem solvers.
In other words, as Jonathan Sacks stated in his 2013 Erasmus Lecture On Creative Minorities,” You can be a minority, living in a country whose religion, culture, and legal system are not your own, and yet sustain your identity, live your faith, and contribute to the common good, exactly as Jeremiah (Jeremiah 29:5-7) said. It isn’t easy. It demands a complex finessing of identities. It involves a willingness to live in a state of cognitive dissonance. It isn’t for the fainthearted. But it is creative…Can civilizational decline be arrested? … the great prophetic answer is ‘ Yes.’ For the prophets taught us that after every exile there is a return, after every destruction the ruins can be rebuilt, after every crisis there can be a rebirth, if—if we have faith in God’s faith in us.”
Each C3 forum can be such a Spirit-led, Christ-centered, creative minority, and in so doing, we can demonstrate to our city that transformation is no longer a cliché.