Dreaming at the Crossroads of Idealism and Realism

I turned in the final term paper of my academic career today. I shared part of it in the previous post. Now I take a breath, gather my thoughts, and move forward in preparing my dissertation proposal. In the past several months I have shared glimpses into my thinking. Several images swirl in tandem with regard to the direction I believe I am headed with my research.

I envision a focus on holistic family discipleship which is not inordinately dependant upon the academic model of education, but which permeates the normal rythms of everyday life in the real world where people actually live. I sense a need to break down the barriers of cultural assumptions in the US American context with a view toward suggesting a better way forward which is biblical and realistic. Randy Frazee has blazed a trail in this regard specifically as it pertains to living out authentic community. I do not propose to match his tireless creativity. Yet I believe there is much to be done in churches and homes to infuse a new way of thinking about and living out discipleship across the age spans and particularly in families with young children in the home.

The positive news is that a high percentage of churches are engaged in carrying out some very good ideas and have been doing so for many years. The bad news is, many of those good ideas fall short of ideal expectations because of the illusive missing component(s) which seem to evade our grasp, causing mixed results in the task of discipleship. For some families the good ideas work very well. For others, they fall far short. And still for others, they completely miss the mark because they often are based heavily on a worldview to which the emerging generations have difficulty relating or they simply do not have meaningful connections in the homes of children, causing their biblical learning retention to be hampered by a lack of practical application.

In one sense, I am a crazed idealist who seeks the holy grail of effective discipleship that will provide surefire results in the homes of families around the world. In another sense, I am a pragmatic realist who seeks to synthesize the best ideas currently available into a holistic way of being disciples on an everyday down-to-earth basis. I try to dream big while keeping it real. I also try to reconcile the substantial changes in my own worldview with the foundational principles of Scripture, recognizing that regionalized meta-narratives are not the same as biblical mandates. The sacred should prophetically speak into the culture and not vice-versa. I hope to guard against the trap of cultural prerogatives by diligently returning to the text of Scripture as my formative praxis of life and ministry.

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