I was quite impressed to read the national Director of the Anglican Church's mission agency (ABM-A) Linda Kurti's article in the latest Partners magazine. (Unfortunately their website doesn't yet seem to be up to date with an online edition of the same.) She introduces the idea of a "Faith Footprint".
This is a modernist terminology that is everywhere. We are perhaps used to the "footprint" language in relation to environmental issues. But it is a useful idea in a whole range of areas.
I guess the image (and one should be careful of explaining images, as that rather defeats the purpose) is what is the observable imprint left after all of the hoo-hah, the words, the shouting and the fighting , the lobbying and the intrigue are over and done with.
What sort of stamp does this actually leave?
Used, as we are, to the carbon footprint...what is left after we indulge our appetite for every possible power hungry gadget, after we spin around the globe on plane after plane, after we drive to work instead of walk or catch the train....and so on and so on? How does the footprint of the West impact on the rest of the world?
The faith question is what does the footprint of the community of faith to which I belong refelect back about priorities and activities.
Kurti rightly points out that the footprint of Westernized churches is very different from the partner churches we seek to support financially.
Footprints reflect back where we put our emphasis, how we spend our time. One not only suspects, but knows, that Western churches are in the area of material resources, a lot of time and effort is spent on buildings and money.
We are quite social, I often think after Parish Planning meetings that our main energies actually go in lunches and dinners, morning tea and Carol Services. These things are not unimportant. But you look at the footprint of our partner churches and see what are (to me at least) impressive programs of social empowerment like enabling poor communities to set up cottage industries which give an social and economic freeddom to the poor, women and the marginalised. A far cry from the next parish dinner!
I shall try and think over the next few days of what my individual footprint might look like. Reminiscent of a question of the seventies that used to intrigue me...If I were on trial for being a Christian would there be enough evidence to convict me?