This blog is a continuation of a process of reflection that was first published in At Home in Exile: The Journey Toward a New Paradigm, a short book that I wrote in 2012. The opening paragraph describes how my thinking was first stimulated:
The origins of this essay lie in a conversation at a retreat for church leaders that I attended in 2010. The retreat was being led by Roy Searle, a founder-member of the Northumbria Community. One evening Roy was sharing the story of the community and told how he had been asked to speak at a certain church in England. About twenty years later he was invited to speak again, and returning to the church he found that they were still praying for revival and singing the same revival songs. He felt that he had to tell them that revival had not come, and that it probably was not coming. Relating the story to us he reflected that the most appropriate metaphor for the church today was that of exile. His words struck a chord within me, both personally and as I seek to understand my role as minister of a congregation in this place and time. This essay is written as an exploration of this metaphor for the church in general, but more particularly as a means of reflecting on my own ministry.
In the book I explored the story of exile in the Old Testament and the parallels that resonated for me personally and for the church of which I was a part. I am still continuing to explore the appropriate shape for a life of discipleship – hence this blog.
The book is available to order or download from the Contemporary Christianity website.
“Peter’s book is an invaluable companion for the people of God being taken into exile. Its challenging insights, observations and analysis are complemented by encouragement and hope to journey into an unknown future with a known God and to be at home in exile.”
“The imagery of exile is increasingly popular as a way of describing the experience of Christians in western societies as the era of Christendom fades and we negotiate the transitional phase known as ‘post-Christendom’. Peter McDowell’s book is a welcome addition to the literature on what he describes as ‘a new paradigm.’
If this analogy between the experience of Israelite exiles in Babylon and that of Christians in post-Christendom holds, we will benefit from reflecting carefully on the exilic literature of the Old Testament. McDowell helps us do this, arguing that we should be especially attentive today to this part of Scripture.
Two distinctive aspects of this book are the Northern Irish context from which McDowell writes and his creative use of the ‘stages of grief’ as the framework for his exploration of the exilic literature. McDowell’s exegesis and insights provide helpful guidelines for us as we learn to be ‘at home in exile’ and to seize the fresh opportunities as well as facing the challenges of post-Christendom culture.”
Anabaptist Network and author of ‘The Power of All: Building a Multivoiced Church’,
‘Post-Christendom: Church and Mission in a Strange New World’ and other books.
A comprehensive review of the book can be found on Gladys Ganiel’s blog. Click here.