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Following Jesus in Community: Social Set Theory and the Missionary Nature of God

October 10, 2022

by Greg Henson, CEO Kairos University; President of Sioux Falls Seminary and David Williams, Kairos Executive Partner; President of Taylor Seminary

 

With a title like that, we doubt many people will gravitate toward reading this series of blog posts. There’s a lot going on in the title. Why talk about following Jesus in community? What does that have to do with social set theory? What does “missionary nature” mean? Why would someone read something so unrelatable? Indeed, there is a lot to consider. Over the next several weeks, we will get to each of those topics and probably uncover some more along the way.

Today, we begin a discussion about what it means to follow Jesus in the context of the Kairos community. We will begin by looking at the missionary nature of God and our invitation to join with God by participating in the work God is doing. Along the way, we will listen to a few pastors, theologians, and business leaders who might be able to shed some light on the work of the Spirit within the Body of Christ and the authority of Scripture. With that in mind, we will review some of the ways anthropologists and missiologists have imagined the relationship between organizations and their social contexts (i.e., social set theory). We will learn a bit about bounded sets, centered sets, and fuzzy sets (and probably math). We will introduce the concept of a directional set and how it might be a helpful way to envision the way we organize ourselves considering the missionary nature of God.  In the end, my hope is that we see a vision for success that invites faithfulness, obedience, and truthing in love (more on that later).

Our primary question for today, however, is “Why reflect on any of this?”

All of us have enough on our plates and more than enough things to think about or consider as we journey through life. Every day it seems like we have something new vying for our attention. Over the past few years, as the Kairos community has grown to include students, mentors, financial supporters, board members, faculty, staff, and partners around the world, we have been blessed by the diversity of community. With people from different cultures, theological traditions, ethnicities, races, demographics, generations, and vocational contexts, each of us within the movement of Kairos has the opportunity to learn from fellow members of the Body of Christ as we seek to be more faithful followers of Jesus. We are a global community comprised of a multitude of local expressions of what it looks like to follow Jesus faithfully.

As a movement of people who call Jesus Lord, we are also committed to a common mission –  the Great Commission. We believe it is important, therefore, to take some time to reflect on what it means to follow Jesus together as we make disciples. Discipleship is something we do in community. It is not simply something we do alone. As a global movement, we are following Jesus and seeking to do so faithfully. That brings up questions like, “Who gets to join us on that journey?” or “How do we make plans for the journey?” or even “How do we know we are moving in the right direction?”

Questions like these are the driving force behind this series of blog posts. Each day, more and more people are asking to walk with us as we follow Jesus. Sometimes it is students and other times it is faculty. Today, we received a text message from a school that would like to join us on that journey, and yesterday we heard from a missionary in China asking the same. The fact is God is doing amazing things in, through, and for the Church around the world and we are blessed to have a front-row seat for the life-changing and transformational work being done. So, let’s take a few weeks to think about how we faithfully follow Jesus as the Kairos community. Let’s see where the Lord takes us!

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