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What is Thoughtful.Faith?

T.F is a Christian fellowship dedicated to reading/viewing, reflecting on, and discussing important books, articles, and video content. Given that members frequently live many miles apart, discussions are held online and, when possible, in-person. The focus for reading/viewing and conversation is on thoughtful Christian materials that inform and guide in today’s polarized times. While it is expected that most members are active in their own church, many lack a setting for deeper understanding, reflection, and conversation. While not a formal academic endeavor, T.F seeks to be a space where minds are renewed and nurtured, allowing members to bring new understandings into their relationships and spheres of influence.

Why Thoughtful.Faith

It’s been said that before sin came into the world, all of the ‘boundaries’ were in the right places. After the fall into sin, the boundaries were corrupted, affecting every aspect of life and the creation itself. No one and no thing were left untouched. As we look at the world today, we see that the boundaries continue in disarray, but not without hope. Followers of Jesus are given the mandate to not only serve and help welcome others into His merciful and saving reign, but also to work as His ambassadors and agents of healing in a broken world. That brokenness is individual (psychological), social (collective across people groups), and structural (in rules and policies, etc.). The ‘why’ of T.F is purposed on learning together, with an eye toward the wisdom and discernment needed to rightly fulfill the mandate given to God’s people in service to their neighbor.

 

Who is Thoughtful.Faith for?

We’d like to think that everyone should be involved, but that’s not reality. Some simply do not have the time or priority to participate at this moment in their lives. Or, perhaps on a quick glance, this sort of thinking and linked service might seem irrelevant. There are likely many reasons why T.F isn’t a good fit. However:

T.F is a good fit for those who lack a community of like-hearted followers of Jesus and hunger for a rich fellowship that deepens one’s mind, creates new friendships, and pays attention to how learning can serve others. We assume that this is a small percentage of people and it’s unlikely that such a fellowship could exist in a single church, especially in smaller congregations.  That’s why T.F seeks people across churches, Christian denominations or those of like perspective without a church home.

T.F is a good fit for those who would classify themselves as orthodox Christians. Not ‘Orthodox’ as in a specific denominational affiliation, but conservative in terms of Biblical belief. Said further, this means a belief in the Bible as inerrant and all its teachings and examples as fully guiding for our messy lives in the current age. This is not a conclusion to be reached, but a starting point -- a given. The richness of conversations anticipated (and the perspectives shared) are supported by the words of the Lutheran theologian Rupertus Meldenius (d. 1651), “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity.”

T.F is a good fit for those who see evangelicalism going astray, finding its epicenter not in Jesus, but in populist and grievance politics. Recent surveys have shown most white evangelicals stacked together on one extreme of the political spectrum, while seemingly uncaring about the Biblical faith and guidance that needs to be a bridge to others. T.F is not calling followers of Jesus to abandon their faith (quite the contrary!), but to find confidence ‘in the center’ where their voices have a chance to be heard and serve as a bridge for the Gospel (as the Apostle Paul did in Athens, Acts 17).

What videos/books/articles will be selected?

At start-up, Dave Hietala will select a few titles for review and conversation. These titles will attempt to build foundations for later viewing/reading and conversation. The hope is that participants will soon join in the selection process. Even better would be having a selection of titles so that individual interests could be honored – we all have preferences and it would be great to support these!

How would book/article conversations be scheduled and structured?

While the schedule for follow-up conversations would bend to include as many as possible, it is thought that both day and evening discussion sessions would be scheduled, with each covering the same content. This would serve those who can join during the day, as well as those only available in the evening. Discussions would be held via video conferencing (like Zoom, MS Teams, etc.) or possibly in-person (with video conferencing as well) if a local cohort and meeting space is available. Group size would be limited to keep conversations at scale, with additional sessions added as needed.

The how-often question, in terms of meeting frequency, would be based on the material being reviewed. In this regard, videos and articles would likely require only a single discussion, while longer book studies might be scheduled over a period of weeks/months. The content will determine how many sessions would be needed to both review the selected material and engage the important questions. Members will help get this right.   

Structure-wise, conversations will be based on provided discussion questions, but also knowing that participants have their own reflections to share. That’s the beauty of thoughtful people engaging with good content! Discussion questions/thoughts will be distributed prior to the subsequent conversations.

Are there restrictions as to who can register to participate?

Yes and no. Yes, there is an open welcome to all to register. However, since T.F is a fellowship of like-hearted followers of Jesus and our conversations enlist an a priori foundation in Christianity orthodoxy (see above), those who seek only to be disruptive will not be welcomed. This is not to shut down perspectives, but rather to avoid granting time to those whose intent is on upsetting the scheduled conversations. Given the likelihood that most conversations will be online, this can be controlled, though still an unhelpful aspect of the effort.

Is there a charge or fee for participation?

There is no fee for participating – it’s totally free! Books purchased through the Amazon link (on the T.F website’s selected reading page) do earn a 4.5% commission for T.F. That’s not enough to pay the way, but it does help a little with costs associated with website hosting, domain fees, etc. Ideally, down the road, it would be great to have a small fund on hand to help pay for website costs, as well as helping members purchase materials if their personal finances are stressed. 

The crown icon is interesting. Is there a story there?

Scripture tells us of a suffering savior in our Lord Jesus Christ. It also speaks of the mighty reign of our Lord in Isaiah 9:6, shared further in Revelation 19:16 as, "...King of kings, and Lord of lords." The icon for T.F seeks to illustrate both the crown as painfully thorn-laden, and the crown as the current and eternal reign of our Lord. 

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