Deep Church by Jim Belcher was the Leadership Journal Book of the Year (along with Dallas Willard’s Knowing Christ Today) so his was the session I was most determined to see. It was titled “Deep Culture” and was more about culture than the contents of Deep Church – the traditional/emergent church issue. Belcher was arguing against a false dichotomy in terms of responding to culture – assimilation (lose distinction) and tribalism (withdraw from culture).
There’s a third way: seeking the good of the city (Jeremiah 29.1, 4-7). We are resident aliens (study Daniel on how to do it well). We need to pray for the city and seek its peace. Belcher referred to the Hebrew word for peace, shalom, and described it as peace with God, selves, others, and culture & creation. Instead of walking through all the Q&A, I’ll put relevant materials where they’re, well, relevant. One way we demonstrate shalom to those around us is by seeking to bring peace in our workplaces.
What does this look like? Some corporate coaches that Belcher knows/works with (I don’t remember for sure) focus on healing relationships, ending backbiting, etc… in an organization and it’s a wonder how much that does. They don’t necessarily preach the gospel, but they bring shalom into the workplace using the language of common grace. It can open doors for more explicit sharing, but the focus is on doing good. City planning shalom includes community gathering places where relational shalom can develop within a city. Sometimes shalom is just bringing beauty to a city, a place, a people. An example is the OC Rescue Mission. It is a beautiful facility that inspires people to get back on their feet.
There are two roles for the believer in this. The first is the institutional church. We gather for sacraments, worship, etc… and this body must be distinct. The second role is the ‘organic’ church where the church goes into the world as salt and light on Monday. We need to train people to be secret agents of influence in the world – to bring shalom and equip them to do it well. This means training our children and our college students doing extra work to integrate their faith with what they’re learning.
After this time of study I’m interested in teaching a series at our church along these lines and finding some people or getting some cohorts together for people to unpack how to bring shalom into their workplaces.