by Mike Fullerton
Gibbons segues into this chapter from cWoWs with a quote from John F. Kennedy. It’s worth repeating a bit of it here,
“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
In chapter 7, Ripples, Gibbons brings together a number of church influencers to get their input and thoughts on four topics. The topics are 1) the third-culture concept, 2) crisis in the church, 3) other big issues facing the church and 4) third-culture ministry movements. The topics provide a tapestry for open discussion and thought provoking snippets from the participants. It would be interesting to gather some leaders in your own context and have the same topical discussion with them.
The participants that Gibbons connects with are amazing influencers in various spheres of the church today. A wide generational span exists and their backgrounds cover the globe. Brennan Manning (a personal favorite author and speaker), Jim Gustafson, Dave Brubaker, Benny Yu, Adam Edgerly, Mehta Kriengparinyakij, Steve Peters, Yo Warong, Jamie Strombeck and Peter & Patricia Dewitt are the willing discussion group. Gibbons explains they are each committed to Jesus-focused ministry. They love the gospel; they love the church and believe in her. They want to see the church thrive into the next century (pg. 153).
Each topic brings comments from this group that expresses a collective excitement for the cultural connectedness that we are beginning to see in the church. Each topic also highlights issues that must be addressed by the church. We get to see some pictures of people in the midst of living out what a third-culture church might look like. You will not see a model developed here to reproduce, but an encouragement to ask some questions of your neighborhood and city. When you ask these questions you may find in the answers some things you and the fellow believers you hang out with can do to live the gospel with this third-culture perspective in mind.
The chapter wraps up with a brief exercise and a prayer that is offered from the participants, however, the reader that is moved by the comments can very easily adopt this as plea of their own to God. Ultimately, the ripples that are created by a move in the third-culture direction by followers of Christ (and therefore the church) offer the freedom that Christ came to give us (Psalm 119:45, Isaiah 61:1, Luke 4:18 & 2 Corinthians 3:17 are cited by Gibbons, pg. 172). We do not need another church model, church growth book or church conference on how to repackage or re-imagine the Gospel, we just need to operate in the freedom we have been given by Christ to love our neighbors and make this our daily prayer and commitment. In doing this, the church (you and I), will begin to create ripples in the water that soon will become waves of change across the world.
About the author:
Mike is married to Debbie and is the father of Emily and Zechariah. He attended Seattle Bible College, Regent University and Fuller Theological Seminary. He youth pastored for fourteen years in Everett, WA, just north of Seattle until he and his family moved to Washington, DC to start The Well, a church in the Georgetown area of DC. Mike spends his spare time rock climbing and bike riding. Mike’s journey has taught and is teaching him that a missional faith embraces God’s creativity, God’s call for reconciliation and God’s role as redeemer of the world.