The Center for Christian Faith & Culture will welcome Dr. Alan Kreider to Malone on Thursday, November 17th, 2016. Dr. Kreider combines a lifetime of academic study in the early church with decades of experience as a mission worker and teacher in many settings around the world. For 26 years he and Eleanor, his wife, were mission workers in England where Alan served as director of the Center for the Study of Christianity and Culture at Regent's Park College, Oxford University. When returning to the U.S. in 2000, Alan and Eleanor became mission educators for Mennonite Mission Network. Alan served as an adjunct member of the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary faculty beginning in 1997 and was named associate professor in 2004. He retired from teaching in 2009 in order to devote more time to writing.
The present talk will provide a synopsis of Dr. Kreider's latest book, The Patient Ferment of the Early Church, and free copies of the book will be provided to everyone who RSVP's by November 1st, 2016.
Presentation Synopsis: why did the early Christians grow?
Introduction: Not for reasons you might think! The growth of the early church was Improbable. Dr. Kreider will list things that the Christians of the early centuries "did wrong". And he will sketch briefly why they are relevant to us today. He will argue that the early Christians (pre-Christendom) grew for four reasons:
Patience: the pre-Christendom Christians wrote three treatises about this virtue, and none on evangelism. Patience was important because God is a patient God who is inexorably at work; Jesus is the supreme example of patience. Christians whose lives are shaped by God's patience participate trustingly in the work of God who makes the church grow; and they become distinctive, attractive, interesting.
Ferment: God's work is inconspicuous, often invisible, bottom up growth. But it developed surprising cumulative power. Its means: migration mission, Christians in pagan households, in business; domestic congregations as community centers; the special role of women. The churches grew because the Christian communities and Christians themselves were attractive and question-posing. But how do Christians become like this?
Formation: Christian leaders developed carefully-thought-through, patient programs of catechesis (formation) leading to the baptism of attractive Christians. The leaders were concerned for the formation of the believers' reflexes and lifestyle as well as of their thinking. These programs were not hurried; but they were necessary so that Christians responded to people, and to the crises of life, in a distinctive way; their reflexes have become different from the reflexes they had as pagans.
Worship: was not seeker-sensitive; it was closed to outsiders (only the baptized allowed in). Nevertheless, worship contributed to numerical growth by forming Christians who were expectant and empowered (corporate intercessory prayers), who were at peace with each other (the kiss of peace), and who were spiritually fed (the Lord's Supper - eucharist).