Becky Garrison on “Fashion for Change” and “Ancient Future Disciples”

Today is the traditional day set aside in Western liturgies to celebrate the visit of the wise men to the baby Jesus. Over the years, it has become my second most favorite holiday, right after Easter weekend. Anyway, I set aside part of this day for reflection, prayer, and writing. One of the things I decided to do was to share a bit about Becky Garrison, a friend of mine who brings gifts of advocacy, insight, and challenge to disciples, ministries, churches, and movements. And lo and behold, she does so with both seriousness and satire!

Becky and I connected through that missional mogul, TallSkinnyKiwi (also known as Andrew Jones, who happens to be one of the instigators of my entry into blogging nearly 10 years ago). We’ve been in touch for a few years now, with lots of emails and a few in-person visits to round out the virtual relating.

In fact, last year Becky and some of her friends from this area dropped in for a visit during her research-interview trip for Ancient Future Disciples (her most recent book – see below). And, if you know either of us, you can imagine the “Level 10” kinds of conversation topics that got bantered about! I’ve never been one to simply collect clone-buddies as a set of friends. (In fact, I’ve even had some close friends who cannot get along at all with some of my other equally close friends … go figure … But isn’t that very thing a picture of the realities of what “culture” is all about and what “church” as a community needs to figure out? Since we share the same spiritual space, yuh think we could learn to give each other grace!)

Also, if you know either of us, you can imagine there are quite a few things we two don’t agree on, but there are many that we do. And I think the most essential one is the importance of following Jesus and wrestling with what that means in terms of practical, everyday decisions as His disciple … treating all people respectfully, standing up against societal and spiritual bullies, reflecting on life through Scripture, doing something that makes a difference in peoples’ lives. We come at the specifics of what that means from very different starting points, but the exploration of exactly that often becomes where the best learning can take place. Our different trajectories give us different perspectories, but that certainly leads to creativity!

And so, with that intro, here are some details about Becky’s recent writings and a forthcoming webinar on January 17, 2012.

ARTICLE. Becky is a prolific writer, blogger, and commentator. She had an article published in December on “fashion that impacts social change.” It features Sweet Notions (which I’ve written about here on futuristguy, exploring how it demonstrates what future mission and ministry look like) and Nomi Network. Both of these organizations work to stop human trafficking and support survivors in sustainable ways. They use fashion production as a means to empower women from vulnerable backgrounds as they learn skills and produce eco-friendly clothing and accessories. Check out Becky’s article on Halogen TV’s site: Let Your Fashion Make a Statement For Social Justice.

BOOK. Meanwhile, Becky’s most recent book was released in October 2011 – Ancient Future Disciples: Meeting Jesus in Mission-Shaped Ministries. (A Kindle ebook version is also available.)

Until I can get to writing my own review, I have to settle for posting some of the online description from Amazon, with some commentary.

Journalist and religion commentator Becky Garrison spent a year visiting US based mission-shaped ministries. Where most books focus on the pioneers who founded these congregations, Garrison shifts to focus on the people on the ground: what drew them to the community, why they come back and how they understand themselves to be “church.” In the process, she reveals wisdom around evangelism, Christian formation and discipleship that every congregation can use to flourish in this postmodern age.

One thing I especially appreciate about Becky is that her writing comes from “primary research” – personal experience and interactions and interviews. It’s not just some mish-mash rehash of “secondary sources” of what other people have said or written or compiled on a subject. She’s an on-the-ground advocate and reporter herself, so she knows whereof she writes, and especially how to pull relevant information out of others who typically aren’t being interviewed! Back to the Amazon description:

Ancient Future Disciples tackles the question: “Are people actually becoming disciples of Jesus in the emergent Anglican communities of the US?” Fresh expressions of church may offer a fresh take on ancient Anglican tradition and worship. But what difference are they making for the people who call them their church home?

Becky’s from a “progressive church” background, and so she gets it about the tensions among social engagement, evangelicalism, and missional enterprises. She’s tracked the successes and critiqued the foibles of the emerging and Emergent movements. Becky’s also connected with people from the UK involved with “Fresh Expressions” (an “emerging-missional movement” within the Anglican church), and interviewed on-the-ground people who are transforming the current and future shape of the church there. She knows her stuff from the grassroots up, and she’s practical. I’m looking forward to reading it to get her read on this important church culture.

WEBINAR. Meanwhile, Becky is scheduled for a webinar on Tuesday, January 17, at 8 PM Eastern time. The subject is Ancient Future Disciples, and you’ll find the registration information on the Center for Progressive Renewal site.

Webinars are one wave of the future as an accessible form of collective learning. I’ve already registered, and hope you’ll do likewise. NOTE: There is a nominal fee for this event. Don’t let that stop you – Becky is worth the bucks! Looking forward to hearing my friend online soon …

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3 thoughts on “Becky Garrison on “Fashion for Change” and “Ancient Future Disciples”

    • Becky, it’s been an intriguing trip … and of course, sometimes trippy! But one of the things I appreciate most about this journey with you (and similarly with others who are unlike either of us) is that it’s NOT about pressuring people to conform to who WE are, but challenging others (and ourselves) to conform to CHRIST’S character. And if we aren’t willing to embrace that same challenge ourselves, then interaction really is about control and constriction instead of change and freedom.

      To me, this is one of the essential lessons of “the Jerusalem Council” in Acts 15. Underneath the surface question of, “Do gentiles have to become Jews before they can follow Christ?” is a deeper issue: Are any of us allowed to start following Jesus from exactly where we are at in our background, beliefs, behaviors, and baggage – or must we change / clean up / create a persona / conform to some other norm in order to gain someone else’s permission to follow Jesus? To me at least, the answer seems obvious: Start where we are, not where they wish we were (i.e., clones of them). And yet, how many theologies and organizations and movements within Christianity end up becoming self-proclaimed permission givers instead of letting people follow Christ on mission as He leads them and through His Spirit guiding them personally and through their community?

      If we are open for “iron sharpening iron” actively, then we need to be with disciples (and non-disciples!) who are different from ourselves. If we aren’t open to that, and only want to be with people who are the same as ourselves, then we are just passive mirrors; we can sit across from each other and get one of those trick “reflection to infinity” effects. But that isn’t reflecting the infinite God or Jesus, it’s merely (and mirrorly) reflecting us.

      Okay time to stop before mega-rant starts. Anyway, looking forward to more of your books and conversations and webinars, Becky. Rock on, doodette!

      • Keep on ranting – and this is what is missing from much of the “evangelical/emergent” dialogue – too much concern about achieving unity and no ironing so to speak … 🙂

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