Power-With vs Power-Over


Back in 2016, I wrote a Banner editorial on “Power-With“. This is a concept I acquired from reading Jim Olthuis’ The Beautiful Risk. Olthuis didn’t really elaborate on the concept but used it evocatively in his descriptions about two different spiritual ways – the spirituality of control and the spirituality of compassion (p. 42). In his description, the spirituality of control manifests itself in one-directional power-over, while the spirituality of compassion manifests itself in multi-directional power-with.

I really liked this concept as I think it helps add a layer to our understanding and engagement of power in our lives and in our institutions. The old adage that “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” is tired but also an overstatement. Power, in that popular idiom, is inherently corrupting, inherently negative. From a biblical worldview perspective, I will say that is only looking at power from the lens of sin and the fall. But God, of course, is powerful and used power to create the world and all of life. Power, originally, was good. God even built power into the fabric of creation. Here are excerpts from my editorial as I start teasing out this concept of power-with:

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Reconciliation in 3-D


the-door-of-reconciliation-by-dahon-creative-commons
The Door of Reconciliation. Photo taken by dahon, flickr.com, creative commons

Sermon for my ordination service as Commissioned Pastor in the role of Editor of the Banner, at Fellowship CRC, Nov 27, 2016.

Texts: 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Ephesians 2:13-16; Colossians 1:19-20

In St. Patrick’s Cathedral, in Dublin, Ireland, there is a door hanging on display called the “door of reconciliation”. Legend has it that in 1492, two Irish families (the Butlers of Ormonde and the FitzGeralds of Kildare) were involved in a bitter feud over which family should hold the position of Lord Deputy. This feud became violent with bloodshed between the two families.

When the violence got out of control, the Butlers took refuge in the Chapter House of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. The FitzGeralds followed them into the Cathedral and asked them to come out and make peace. Afraid they would be slaughtered, the Butlers refused.

As a gesture of good faith, the head of the Kildare family, Gerald FitzGerald, ordered that a hole be cut in the door. He then thrust his arm through the door and offered his hand in peace to those on the other side. Of course, that was a huge risk. Because the Butlers could have chosen to cut his arm off. But instead, they shook hands through the hole. The Butlers emerged from the Chapter House and the two families made peace.

Apparently, this is where the British phrase “to chance your arm” gets its meaning: to chance your arm means to take a risk. And that door through which the two families shook hands and made peace is that door of reconciliation on display in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, to this day.

Well, we live in 2016, not in 1492. But I think we live in a world that is in as much need of reconciliation as ever. We live in a deeply divided and polarized world. Even though we interact with different people more than ever – from rubbing shoulders with people who are different at school or at work to interacting with people from across the planet on the internet and social media – so, despite that, we are actually increasingly divided into ideological tribes. People don’t seem to know how to disagree civilly on social media. It’s either you are my friend for agreeing with me, or you are an idiot for disagreeing and I will make sure you know that you are an idiot!

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Becoming a World Changer


My fifth and final teaching video for now, Becoming a World Changer, lists out five major themes for Christians to be a Christ-centred agent of change.

I believe that Christians are called to join in God’s mission to not only “save souls,” so to speak, but also to reconcile “all things” to God, to bring about God’s shalom in the world.

Below the video is a PDF handout for group discussion.

Becoming a World Changer by Shiao Chong

To download an accompanying pdf discussion handouts suitable for a short workshop or a small group, click here: Becoming a World Changer

 

Christian Leadership


Leadership Lane via Wikimedia Commons
Leadership Lane via Wikimedia Commons

This is my first teaching video! I have made six five teaching videos which will be uploaded with accompanying pdf discussion handouts. I will try and roll them out over the next few weeks.

In this video, I reflect on four major principles of Christian Leadership set in an acrostic: L-E-A-D for easy remembering!

Hope you will find this beneficial. PDF download link is below the video.  Continue reading “Christian Leadership”

The Church’s Vision Problem


3528661Last week, I was privileged to attend the Christian Reformed Church’s 2013 Multi-Ethnic Conference. The keynote speaker was Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and former Executive Director of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. She is a leader in the faith-based economic justice movement in the United States among evangelical Christians.  I want to share some highlights from her wonderful keynote speech at the conference.

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Five Marks of an Ideal Church?


9631777_sI have recently been thinking about what an ideal church, for me, might look like. So, I have come up with five marks of my ideal church. Of course, no one congregation will be able to embody these five marks perfectly. I have no delusions of finding or creating an actual ideal church. But I think these five marks can help guide us towards improvements and in what direction we should go. And I am curious as to how others would imagine their ideal church, so please leave comments.

Continue reading “Five Marks of an Ideal Church?”