catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 8, Num 10 :: 2009.05.08 — 2009.05.22


Audacious imagination

Your vision for the property is absurd enough to be considered “kingdom work.” There’s no way this will work and, given the economy, it’s just about the worst time to have such an idea. Ten years from now, when it is a flourishing, multifaceted ministry, a glorious signpost of the coming kingdom, I would like to be included as one who said it would never work. That way, I’ll be part of the story!  Put me down for the speaker at the ten-year anniversary banquet.  My calendar is clear!

Such was the response we received from our friend Derek Melleby over at the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding this week.  It’s just one of many encouraging and flabbergasted messages that have been coming in since we officially announced, in the words of Andy Crouch, the “audacious and exciting” Imagining Space campaign.  In fact, I liked the word “audacious” so much as a description for this project that I looked it up, just to indulge my word geekiness:

Fearlessly, often recklessly daring; bold … unrestrained by convention or propriety … spirited and original.

Wow.  I consider that a compliment.  And a challenge.

So what in the world is this project that’s drawing such robust words and strong responses?  Well, in the middle of one of the most violent economic hiccups since the Great Depression, *culture is not optional is trying to raise money to buy a building in Three Rivers, Michigan.  We’re speaking words of possibility into the wind to see if anyone’s listening and if anyone has something to add: ideas, money, connections, talents, baked goods, prayers, words of wisdom and so on.  As I wrote to catapult writers and subscribers in a letter last week, we want to see what the catapult magazine community might look like in physical form.

“Yes, yes, all very interesting, but abstract — what exactly would go in this building?”  A very good question.  You can learn more by checking out the Imagining Space vision, but to summarize some possibilities: an off-campus program for college students; service-learning opportunities for curious minds of all ages; arts, agricultural and vocational education for at-risk youth and families; and more. 

There are several themes running through it all.  A big one is a desire to cultivate a living model of Kingdom vision in a particular time and place, serving and being served by a specific geographical community.  Another motivation is the desire to be invitational, to have space where people can gather to learn from one another through shared storytelling and ritual, and by working, studying and playing side by side.  We envision this space as a hub, with spokes reaching across the country and around the world – a hub being influenced by and influencing diverse individuals, households, neighborhoods and institutions.  We envision this space as a catalyst for our generation of Christ followers, a generation appreciative of everyday practices infused with faith and significance, mystery and delight.

Admittedly, exploring this possibility now is ridiculous (as in, worthy of ridicule), but our best hope is that we might just be standing in some pretty good company as fools for Christ addicted to the upside down Kingdom-dying in order to live, surrendering in order to be free, giving to receive, and all that.  In the here and now, my husband Rob and I are grateful to have the partnership of a wonderful board of directors.  One of them, Sylvia Keesmaat, offered these wise words that help put Imagining Space in context for us, and maybe they will for you, too:

I’m sure you know the story from Jeremiah 32, where Jeremiah buys a field from his cousin, a field over which he has right of redemption. It is a crazy move because the land has just been taken by the Chaldeans. But he purchases it as a lived action that God’s restoration will come again to this place. You could say that buying this school and starting a capital campaign are that kind of a move. Against all odds, this is the crazy sort of thing that those who believe in a different kingdom do in the midst of exile…

Of course, there is also the letter to the exiles in Jeremiah 29. What do you do in exile, when it seems that all is lost? Build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat what they produce. It seems that in the midst of a country of foreclosures, you guys are trying to do exactly what faithful followers of Yahweh are called to do: live into the hope of the coming kingdom, for the welfare of Three Rivers.

Another compliment, another challenge, that might be summed up this way: “We’re crazy, but it might just be a good kind of God-loving crazy.”

I guess at this point, I want to turn the conversation over to you: does the challenge and delight of modern day exiles sounds like something you’d like to be a part of?  We’re definitely not messing around with the logic of scarcity here; rather, we’re seeking to live radically and thoughtfully into the liturgy of abundance, revealed in creation and sustained by God’s extravagant love for the world and we’d love to call you a companion on this journey.  Won’t you join us?

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