Todd Seelau


The negative perceptions that those outside of Christianity have toward those who pride themselves as carriers of the Good News make it evident that many of these relationships are broken, perhaps even beyond repair. Is there hope? Reconciliation, defined as a just and graceful effort to heal the relationships between humanity, God, and creation is the essential process-the core-of the Gospel as we know it. A theology for reconciliation provides a radical shift in focus from personal holiness to relational healing. In order to heal these relationships churches have tried seeker-sensitive services, alternative styles of worship, and organic types of church that may look different from what people expect. However, the majority of these churches fail to place the people they serve above the locations in which the churches gather. This study suggests that the Israelite Exile of 586 BCE is a powerful image that can serve to inspire an environment of reconciliation in today's American Church. This written statement will develop such a theology and apply it to the broken relationships left behind by those who don't subscribe to a shared worldview. At the height of Israelite idolatry, the Babylonians conquered Israel in 586 BCE and destroyed their temple, which was the center of their worship. After many of the Israelites were exiled into Babylon, they had to find different ways to worship God. Worship began to be centered on the idea that God was with them wherever they were. In the current United States culture, we find ourselves in a similar position. Surrounded by people that have a very different worldview, Christ's followers must adapt to this situation rather than acting as if Christians are the majority. The Israelite Exile is an effective model for church today because it links people with those in the community in a meaningful way. In order to adapt the exilic church to the present, the purpose of this study is to design X-ile, a decentralized church that is missional, relational and incarnational. 1 X-ile will not meet privately in its own building, but will instead meet in public places while embracing the idea that the fate of the surrounding community directly affects the fate of the church. The artifact portion of this dissertation will be a network of websites designed to connect people within the reconciling environment of X-ile.