Saturday, February 12, 2011

Ferocious deliberations

I just received an invitation from the Lausanne Committee for Evangelization to a gathering in Orlando, Florida later this year, a “Leadership Consultation on Evangelism and Missions.” I am invited because of my “passion for Evangelism and Mission in our nation and around the world.” (Do they know me?) I am encouraged also to invite “other select leaders,” especially those under 40 years old. (No, they don’t know me.)

But the part of this invitation that stands out, partly because it is in bold print, is the description of what will happen at the consultation: “We will pray with intensity, deliberate with ferocity, make friends, form alliances, and bless each other in our Kingdom pursuits.” Friends, alliances and blessings are good. And I understand the part about praying with intensity. But what does it mean to deliberate with ferocity? I picture a room full of ferocious evangelicals, teeth bared, claws sharpened as the fur begins to fly. Praise the Lord.

Ok, so help me again, Mr. Webster. Here’s what he says: ferocious—“exhibiting or given to extreme fierceness and unrestrained violence and brutality.” See what I mean? Strong language there. At least it’s all for the Kingdom.

Alright, so there’s another secondary definition, one slightly milder: “extremely intense.” I suppose this is what the writer of this piece of publicity means. Extremely intense deliberations. I do wonder, though, why the prayer is merely intense, while the subsequent deliberations are to be ferocious?

And is this something I want to be involved in? As a Quaker is it even legal for me to get ferocious?

Currently I am serving as clerk of elders in our local meeting, and we are facing some difficult decisions as a community. It what has become a long, drawn-out, and complex process, I think we are slowly making our way toward some clarity. (This is really mild language, isn’t it? We’re as funny as “they” are, just at the opposite end of a continuum. The lions versus the lambs.) Some of our deliberations have seemed, if not ferocious, certainly intense. Yet our commitment to affirm one another, even when we differ, and together to seek the mind of Christ has held us through a tough time. I have hopes that some decisions lie in the near future, and that we can move on to being the church.

And it has been intense, at times extremely so. But we still love one another. No fur has flown, and none will. Our Quaker/Christian values help keep us in the path of peace, even while dealing with hard issues.

Actually, I appreciate the Lausanne Movement, recognize its contributions and benefit from fruit the movement has borne in the past (for example, the Lausanne Covenant, a faith statement that is holistic and profound). But I do get angry at exaggerated language, especially in Christian publicity. In fact, I get very angry.

But even so, I fall short of ferocity.


  1. (This is really mild language, isn’t it? We’re as funny as “they” are, just at the opposite end of a continuum. The lions versus the lambs.) This reminds me of a description of Friends I heard long ago (maybe Ruth Pitman said it)--"assertive diffidence."

    I can see a minute forming now: "Friends agreed that no fur will fly."

  2. Nancy-"that we can move on to being the church"!? You are being the church during, through, in this decision-making time. If what you describe isn't being the church, cut out most of the New Testament. I'll leave it at that.

    Congratulations on being invited to the consultation. Wish I was under 40 so I could come as your friend.

  3. Thank you, Johan, for the great definition, and Mary, for the good reminder that even now we are "being the church." You're right, of course.