SpiritFarmer


April 25, 2005, 5:10 am
Filed under: uncategorized

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.

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