Two trends in the early twenty-first-century intersect to give this volume immediate relevance: 1) The emerging postmodern ethos in North America is calling into question many things we have taken for granted, including the purposes of the church; and 2) our time is increasingly fractious as groups with distinct worldviews become polarized and often antagonistic.
Eleven noted contributors join a growing current that sees conversation as an image to refresh our thinking about the nature and purpose of the church, and as a process in which individuals and communities with different perspectives come together for real understanding.
Under the Oak Tree employs the image of Sarah and Abraham greeting three visitors under the Oaks of Mamre as an image for the church as a community of conversation, a community that opens itself to the otherness of the Bible, voices in history and tradition, others in the contemporary social and ecological worlds. Furthermore, the book shows how conversation can lead the church to action.
The book takes a practical approach by exploring how conversation can shape key parts of the church's life. Topics include preaching, worship, formation, evangelism, pastoral care, mission and ecumenism, social witness, and the relationship of Christianity to other religions. Foundational chapters consider God as conversational, the church as community of conversation, and the minister as conversation leader.