I have had a few people ask what A Mending Shift means and its origins. Good question……
To shift simply means to move, to change. Sometimes, a shifting takes place for its own end; in other words, to change simply for change’s sake. Other times, a shifting takes place for another end; to change for a reason or a purpose outside of itself. The first makes the statement: We are changing. The second asks the question: Why are we changing?
Let me use my Jeep as an example. My Jeep has a five-speed manual transmission. I manually have to shift from one gear to another. If I were to drive down the freeway and indiscriminately start changing gears, say from 5th to 2nd to 3rd to 1st then back to 5th, the results would be reckless and potentially damaging. This is an example of changing just to change. When the officer asks why you changed from 5th to 1st going 65 MPH, the answer would be, “I don’t know. I just wanted to shift.”
Now, on the other hand, if I were driving down the freeway at 65 75 MPH (let’s be realistic) and came to the base of a mountain with a steep grade, a shift would be required. Why? If I tried to scale it in 5th gear, I’d drop to about 10 MPH and my engine would sputter and eventually stall. There I’d be on the side of the road with no cell phone coverage waiving for help. Now in the valley, when I was just cruisin’, I could stay in 5th gear. But now this new mountain has rudely entered into my path, and in order to get up the mountain so I can get to my destination (my goal and purpose), I need to shift. Not to just any gear, but the gear that the mountain demands. Is it 1st?…Sometimes. 2nd?…Perhaps. 3rd?…Occasionally. Even back to 5th?…depends on the mountain. But isn’t this relative shifting? Absolutely. My gear choice is relative to my environment, based on my goal.
So in our current postmodern context, or environment, what needs to shift? Our thinking and practice. When Christianity was cruising in Christendom (Constantine era to 50-100 years ago), 5th gear worked fine. In fact, it was ideal. When Christianity was in the Modern era (1500-1950 [some suggest]) 4th gear worked; a more principle oriented and scientific approach to scripture and faith worked. In fact, it was ideal. But now that we find ourselves climbing the grade of Postmodernism and Post-Christendom, a shift in our thinking and practice is required. 4th and 5th gears are no longer appropriate to our context. A shift is required.
But why, why do we need to shift? What is the goal or the purpose of the shift here? To mend. To heal. To restore. To put it in more direct words: to mend what is damaged or forgotten. To mend means to heal, to restore something to a satisfactory condition, to remove damage, to improve something. Notice how the word “perfect” is no where to be found. Perfection is not the goal. Mending is. And I apply it to two areas.
The first is towards us; Christians, the church, those who associate with the name of Jesus. It is the removing the plank from our eye so we can see clearly the speck in the others’. There is stuff in us that is damaged, hurt, broken, not satisfactory and needs improvement. As we climb this mountain, we need to look into the mirror, watch our gauges, listen to our engine, and do some deep thinking about our environment and the way of Jesus. How do we follow him today? What questions need to be asked? What junk are we lugging around in the trunk that we need to toss? What’s broken and we need to fix? How do we love, truly love, our neighbor?…
The second is towards the other; to seek their healing and restoration. To help communicate the healing that came through Jesus. To let them know that God loves them and is not mad. To communicate that they do not need to feel the alienation as runaways, but that they are God’s kids whom he died to love…come home! To heal injustice. To fight for the least. To love for love’s sake. To not require them to come to us for healing but to pack up our tents and go to them. To take seriously our and their crap…and to take seriously God’s expansive love and grace. To let go of our need for control and trust God as we get busy in joining his Kingdom coming to earth as it is in heaven. To make it about them…not us. To apologize for the pain we have caused. To humbly serve them with no expectations. To see them as people and not conversions. To radically live out Jesus everyday in a world that has pushed us into the margins.
And all of this is for his love and his kingdom and his glory, which in turn is all about him mending the damaged and having his kids stop running, believe they are forgiven, and come home so they can help him mend the damaged.
A Mending Shift: A shift in thinking and practice in order to mend what is damaged or forgotten. A restoring change. A healing alteration.
So there you have it…the purpose of this site. I invite you to: Enjoy. Think. Comment. Shift. Mend.