Longing to live a full life – There is Hope
All of the above reflect something of God’s fullness promised to mankind. There is nothing wrong as such with these things, because they reflect something of God. But to just live with the reflection is not enough. We need to get to the source of the reflection.
These days most Europeans live with the reflection only. At least in Western Europe the majority could be called indifferent. They have little knowledge of God and his church, let alone God’s story with Europe over the past centuries. They are not against God. They are neither atheists nor agnostics, they are just indifferent.
They can be reached with the gospel, but there are two dimensions we need to keep in mind. According to sociologists people respond to relevance and resonance.
People’s decisions are influenced by relevance. They ask themselves: Is this relevant for my life? A good question, as many are overwhelmed with the abundance of choices out there. This means that to them God and his church are only an option among many. Their issue is: What the church and faith could offer me? Would that be valuable to my life? And if yes, can I truly relate to it? And last but not least: Can it stand the test of everyday life because it can be really experienced?
And for resonance people ask: Does it cause “vibration”? Does it excites me?
The sociologist Hartmut Rosa* analyses our connection to the world the following way: The world is a place given to man, in which the world and man ‘touch and transform each other’. What passion drives us? What do we radiate? What resonances arise with people who come into contact with churches and with Christians?
There is Hope for Europe
All this shows that there is Hope for Europe. But this hope needs to be expressed by the people who carry the Hope in their hearts and who reflect God’s life. Relevance and resonance will matter greatly in the upcoming working conference Hope for Europe Tallinn 2018 from 8-13 October. We will wrestle with many questions. The answers ultimately have to stand the test of these two indicators. Because relevance and resonance in themselves are an expression of our relationship with God and the fullness we experience it.
Many of you reading these lines will take part in the Hope Event. Others, I pray and hope, will profit from it. Most of all the church.
See you in Tallinn,
EEA General Secretary
*Some of the above is inspired by the ZMiR Newsletter 34-18 from Ein Reformzentrum der EKD (https://www.zmir.de/)