April 29, 2005, 9:05 am
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How cool is this? I just found out that this very blog is ranked #18 on Google . . . that is, for people searching for “Kumbya sheet music.” Awesome. All my dreams are coming true.

April 28, 2005, 8:56 am
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Healing for Palmer – check it out, get involved.

April 27, 2005, 8:33 am
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More thoughts on doing church on multiple levels concurrently . . .

Chris Smith left a good comment (but for some odd reason it didn’t tally the comment counter so check that out here and add your thoughts as you like. Anyway, he brought up something that has been rattling around in my head a little: “My one concern is the lack of commitment. I think it is possible to have deep commitments to both groups . . .”

I may have poorly worded the part of not committing to either what’s going on in the home or what’s going on in the church we may attend for corporate worship gatherings. As it turns out, I’m glad about the poor wording because it forced me into revisiting what I’m really trying to work through. I am definitely big on committing to people – wherever they may gather. Being with people in a real way is the point of all this. I’m more hesitant when it comes to committing to the form.

When Michelle and I were talking about this stuff, we came to a question that goes something like this: What if all, or at least most, of the people gathering in the home were gathering with the same church body for worship and that church wanted to recognize it as a more or less official group of the church (sort of like a home/small/cell group)? While I don’t have any interest in this becoming an issue of territory that I feel a defensiveness about, I also have mixed feelings about something organic being co-opted by something less so.

I don’t have the time at the moment to flesh this out more or poke it around myself, but that leaves room for you, my friends. Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

April 25, 2005, 5:10 am
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Yesterday was a good day ’round here . . . but we didn’t happen to “go to” church. Michelle and I each spent time with people we share faith with, but we did so in a different context than a gathering of people who follow Jesus who do their gathering for the specific purpose of worshipping together. It’s actually only the second Sunday since we moved here that I wasn’t at such a gathering. That’s o.k.

But what we did yesterday may have been a step toward something that we’ve sort of been kicking around a little bit lately. Ever since we began our church/theological shift, or deconstruction, or whatever, we have been influenced by and have come to admire the ideals of the house/simple/organic church scene. And yet it’s been a difficult one for us to fully embrace. I won’t go into all the things we love vs. all the things we love less about our fellow followers who organize in that way. I’ll just say that on a pragmatic level, something hasn’t clicked with us, and that o.k. The other side of the coin is that we have had increasingly greater difficulty embracing more commonly organized churches – the kinds you see who meet in large buildings that they own and the kinds you see who rent space for their gatherings (schools, community centers, coffee shops, etc.). I won’t go into all the things we love vs. all the things we love less about our fellow followers who organize in that way either. I’ll leave it at this – there are things about both streams (as well as some of the hybrids of the two we’ve seen) that we identify with, but we have trouble embracing either form at this point.

The unstated “rules” seem to be that a legitimate follower of Jesus needs to commit to one of those streams in order to be dialed into true community. I understand the value of those rules, but something still doesn’t click. It may be that we have become the kinds of “consumers” of church that we’ve railed against for the past few years – the kind that go shopping for the best worship or the best teaching or the most fragrant incense or the best coffee or the best pot lucks. I don’t think so, but I’m willing to be challenged in that way.

So what we’ve begun experimenting with is the thought that maybe we could participate in both streams without formalizing a commitment to either. Here’s what that might look like: we develop a weekly or bi-weekly gathering of followers and friends who just hang out and have dinner together. This gathering would be intentional in the areas of encouragement and sharing life stories, and unintentional, but welcoming in the areas of prayer, common reading and/or study of scripture, and communion. Meanwhile, we also regularly participate in the gatherings of a church or churches for the specific purpose of prayer, learning, and giving. Practically speaking, I tend to think that we’d end up being more personally committed to the people in the “dinner club” than the church/churches we attend, but that’s neither here nor there to me right now. Some of fellow diners might be more comfortable formalizing their commitment to a regular church, and some might not even bothering attending at all. Both sets of friends would be encouraged to worship God and learn from him in all aspects of life.

Am I talking about planting a church without planting a church? Maybe, maybe not. Again, just some thoughts we’re kicking around. I’m open to discussion of the value and problem areas of this approach. Shoot me an e-mail or comment if you care.

April 16, 2005, 3:23 pm
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O.k., this is a brilliant response to some nonsense, which I’ve already grumbled about. Andrew Jones introduced me to the world of blogging . . . and as a result, I’ve been introduced to many friends who have been my true community as I’ve painfully rethought what my faith is all about.

April 11, 2005, 8:18 am
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Interesting weekend around here. Super busy, but productive, fulfilling, and helpful. Michelle and I got to hang out and talk with our next door neighbor yesterday, while watching our dogs play (as long as you consider 25mph collisions, rolling in dirt and pine needles, and then jumping up on us play). Pretty wacky stuff, but it turns out that we know some similar folks. I’ll elaborate another time. For now, it’s good to be getting to know some new friends. In a couple weeks I get to help out with a landscape project they’re working on, so I’m looking forward to that.

Last night, Michelle and I spent time with the Quest community of faith. Good times. This was our first chance to hang out and worship with a simple community since moving here.

We still don’t know the ultimate reason we were supposed to move up here from SoCal, but more and more we’re sure that we did the right thing and we are supposed to be here. We know that we might not ever know the why, but we’re enjoying the where. We miss family and friends a lot, but even that has been a good experience of growth.

Peace to you this week.

April 8, 2005, 8:25 am
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O.k., seems like there’s more and more talk going ’round about the whole leadership thing – particularly church leadership. Two things are striking me as ironic here . . .
1. We’re engaging this important topic during the same week as an important church leader’s death is being mourned by many millions around the world. How do events in the global Church impact our current discussion, even though many of us are in a different stream?
2. In the midst of all our critical talk about the focus we place on leaders, it looks like we’re still focusing on the leaders. Is it possible that in order to regain proper balance in our leaders we need to actually spend more time talking about, and especially with the people we lead?