Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Slow Kingdom Coming, by Kent Annan

Kingdom work is slow work.  Like good barbecue, we can't rush it.  We have to wait for God's timing.  Kent Annan has worked in the third world, especially in Haiti, for "deep instead of shallow change."  In Slow Kingdom Coming: Practices for Doing Justice, Loving Mercy and Walking Humbly in the World, Annan discusses five "faithful practices" for kingdom building.

OK, here's the spoiler.  The five practices are: attention, confession, respect, partnering, and truthing.  Without going point by point, here are some highlights that stood out to me.  We want to resist "poverty tourism."  While short-term mission trips make for great slide shows and stories, and can be life-changing for the participants, "if the primary takeaway of being with people who are suffering is that we feel better about our own lives, we are disrespecting them."  Great point.  Annan encourages churches not to "date" missions focuses, but to "marry" one target where they can direct their resources and partnership.

When we do partner in mission, we need to get beyond "rescue partnership" and "fixit partnership" (those terms are self-explanatory) and aim for "equal agency partnership" and "partnering together with God."  Partnerships, especially between American churches and third-world Christians, need to be based on mutual respect and listening.  Americans must avoid the arrogance and preconceived notions that have marked missions.  Take the long view.  Don't force things.  Above all, listen.  And make sure that God is a partner in every endeavor.

Annan concludes, "Slow Kingdom Coming is a declaration of hope.  It's not here yet, but we believe and are willing to give our lives to living out this belief."  We have to remember that "the blessing is, in fact, that we do get to participate with God in making this change happen."  Annan has certainly lived the life, working long-term in Haiti and other countries, and encouraging believers to work for justice.  His five practices are worth reflecting on.  Before your next missions trip, church outreach, missions committee meeting, etc., Slow Kingdom Coming is worth a read.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!

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