Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Simple Proposal for a New Way of Being and Doing Church

With none of the necessary justifications (you can find much of that discussion on this blog and elsewhere) or the detailed outworking (much of that will be local and contextual), here is my “bare bones” proposal for being and doing church in a new way.

Assumption: the Bible views God’s people as a “subversive, counter-revolutionary movement” recalling people to their primal dignity and vocation as God’s image-bearers and struggling against the effects of sin in the world and erecting signs of the kingdom along the way. You have been with a group exploring this biblical identity and vocation of the church and your group discerns God’s call to live together as such.

1. Be rooted in your neighborhood or local context

-worship and serve God with those with you live and know on a day-to-day basis;
-it doesn’t make sense to me for the Christians in one place to all get in their cars to go worship in another place with other people.
-use homes, schools, neighborhood club houses, etc. rather than build a ”church.”

2. Remain small and flexible

-we are to be “yeast” in the dough according to Jesus, not a “beast” that dominates and rules;
-like the Titan football team in “Remember the Titans,” we are to be “agile, mobile, hostile” and I would add “fragile” in our world. These, I think, are contemporary “marks of the church.”
-there’s no biblical virtue to largeness, “small is beautiful” after all.

3. Non-professional, gift-based, polycentric, linear “follower-ship” (a la Ephesians 4)

-“liturgy” = work of the people (not only the liturgy in worship but the “liturgy beyond the liturgy,” the life of the people in the world.
-organic images of church as “family” and “body of Christ” trump institutional images for imagining the life of the people.
-Remember, professionals built the Titanic, the Ark was built by amateurs.

4. Develop a way of life (“rule”) like engages us in God’s mission in our world and organizes our life together

-this will mean a reordering of our daily lives (difficult) into a different rhythm
-will entail use of some version of the Daily Office as its benchmarks
-will mean meals together with one another and immersion in your community
-will entail random acts of kindness and strategic acts of justice

5. The gathering (Worship) will focus on praise of God in the context of the lives lived in service, testimonies of such experiences will be offered and celebrated, the story of our common mission in the Bible explored, and prayers for our lives in mission offered. Education will be structured around the needs of the community to be better equipped for mission (their daily lives lived according to the way of life adopted by the community).

-worship is about what we bring to the harvest of praise offered to God and the encouragement for mission we receive from the testimonies, biblical stories, and songs, and prayer. Both bringing and receiving – not simply receiving!

Hundreds of questions, criticisms, and observations need to be addressed to this model. I be glad to hear what you get from this. Let me know!

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