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Preview: Comments on Emerging Grace: Non-Answers About Church and Community

Comments on Emerging Grace: Non-Answers About Church and Community

Updated: 2009-03-06T00:27:12.937-07:00


Grace,Just wanted to say that I feel for you as a ...



Just wanted to say that I feel for you as a Pastor myself. I think this person that came into your church was more on an ego driven trip then a call by God. When church becomes about us, or our building, or our ministry, or our anything, in a way it stops being the church. I've been working with a couple who have come from a very broken church life and I hate that the kingdom of God has been so skewed for them. I come from a church that splintered and some of the people I looked up to in the faith left the church instead of fighting for the church. Leaving many people angry and broken, never to recover. Church is definitely bigger than the buildings and denominations around us. Most of my ministry is that of redefining church and community. I enjoy reading your journey in this and am glad you haven't given it up. Thanks for your insights!

Hi Robby,Thanks for the continued conversation. I...


Hi Robby,
Thanks for the continued conversation. I couldn't really picture you as someone who would hang out on the fringe, although I also can't really picture you as someone "playing the church game."

I came across an interesting quote at Hamo's blog this morning about this whole topic.

He goes on to say that ‘community’ is more than just developing friendships and looking out for others who are like us. He calls this ‘tribalism’. He suggests that caring for the stranger is more of a mark of real community and it raises the ‘moral’ quotient of society as we actually build bonds that are beyond simple friendship as good as that may be.

Now that I have a tribe again, I want to be careful not to settle into that comfort zone and neglect expanding my sphere of relationships elsewhere.

It is nice having that sense of belonging, but it still lacks missional purpose. There is a part of me that thinks that the concept of community is idealized or perhaps idolized because of the fear of individualism.

Anyway, those are my thoughts today.

Grace,We're not "deeply connected" at our church i...



We're not "deeply connected" at our church in areas such as:

* we aren't in any of the home groups

* I'm not a "regular" in the worship bands although I have filled in here and there when needed (and it was a good experience each time)

* although we are missionaries, we receive no support from the church nor are we on any "missionary list" that I'm aware of

* my role in "youth ministry" at this church is (A) chaffeuring my kids to the Tuesday night meetings, and (B) hanging out with the youth pastor for coffee every now and then, where he picks my brain and I encourage him because he's one of the few in youth ministry these days who "gets" community and spiritual formation

Last but not least, part of what Wendy & I are doing over this summer (before the next DTS starts in the fall), is to intentionally build on some of the friendships that we are in the beginning stages of. Not because we're frustrated with YWAM, but just because we realized we were out-of-balance to a degree by not being totally "here" in Kelowna.

Your last poster (in above post) is why I believe ...


Your last poster (in above post) is why I believe wish-dreams (OUR wish-dreams) are not what the church is or will be. The church is only what Jesus says it is and calls it forth to be.

so I go (jeff?),I said almost exactly the same thi...


so I go (jeff?),
I said almost exactly the same thing in a comment at the naked pastor blog the other day. Here is my comment:

Do we all define ourselves? Possibly. However, lately I define myself according to my relationships, not as a noun really, but more of a verb. Instead of thinking I am “a Christian” (noun), I think of myself as relating to (verb) the Father/Son/Holy Spirit. The same is true of my relationships as wife, mother, and friend. It is especially true of how I think of church and community at this time. I define my church community relationally rather than organizationally. Rather than looking for a church (defined by place), I look for relational circumstances where church is occurring.

I love your thoughts about "churching" a bigger area, rather than building a bigger church, and also that community is a by-product of our act of being the church. Thanks for sharing your comments. They help me as I try to get a firmer grasp on all of this.

I had not thought of the quote in that way. However, I agree with you that our expectations could become a type of control or abuse that we carry with us into church situations.

As I said to someone else above, I think it is okay to have our wish-dreams about church. In fact, I think that much of it is from God and the things He is teaching us. It is also good for us to have an awareness of the danger of imposing our dream on others.

I understand the frustration of feeling unfulfilled with your current church situation. I have come to accept that even in my dissatisfied state, God is expanding my understanding of the kingdom, the church, and the body of Christ. He will use it all.

(Of course I read your blog post. I read them all!) Blessings to you.

Nice to meet you! I look forward to getting to know you also.

Paul,Yes, we are flying by the seat of our pants f...


Yes, we are flying by the seat of our pants for now (following the HS sounds more spiritual).

I would never have believed the things that have happened if I weren't living it.
It's great having friends to talk to again, although sometimes I feel like I should still be alone (twisted, I know!). I guess I just got used to that role.

Even though our stories are different, we are on a similar journey of trying to define what church and community mean. I wonder what constitutes the "at home" feeling at your CLB. I don't have the answers either. If you didn't have the Sunday morning activity, would you still have community? And if you have community, is that church, or not?

I agree that there is often a lack of "church" happening at Sunday morning services.

Not preachy at all. It has been long enough ago that I am doing pretty well in the area of healing and forgiveness. Due to the fact that my views about church have changed, I'm not really looking for a pastor to "follow."

My complaints now are more towards the systems and politics that cause the hurtful situations that believers experience in church.

As we are around people who have left our CLB more recently, we are trying to be sensitive and allow them the time they need to detox without letting that become the focus of our relationships.

I'm sorry that you've been hurt in the church also. I know that it goes both ways. It just depends on who has the power.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

I think it's okay for us to have wish-dreams about church. It is what we do with them that matters, especially if attempting to impose our expectations on others.

Our friends in YWAM experienced the same frustration with the transitory nature of relationships. Due to the common purpose, I think it is pretty easy to go deep quickly, however, as you said, it is lacking the shared history.

I was especially interested to hear that you aren't deeply connected at the church you attend. I guess I just figured you would be.

And thanks for the confirmation about the statement from the apostle wannabe. I'm glad it isn't just me that sees it as control.

It does take time. That is how shared history develops. What's interesting though, is that it is also possible to have shared history with people and never really develop community with them.

I believe that I define them both relationally now rather than organizationally. Thanks in part to your ongoing teaching!

Whatever "it" is, I've become more comfortable with the lack of definition and just appreciate the moments and relationships for what they are.

Love your blogs! I am still laughing about the abb...


Love your blogs! I am still laughing about the abbreviations that I read yesterday (sorry, I just now discovered your blog) about CCLB! Love it love it love it!

wow, awesome post. When I first read the Bonhoeffe...


wow, awesome post. When I first read the Bonhoeffer quote I felt very convicted. It seemed to describe me all too well. Then I read it again and it didn't seem to fit quite as well. The key is the word "demand". I hope I haven't demanded that God or others manifest my vision for the church. However, if anger in its many levels (from irritation to rage) reveals the truth of our expectations about life, then perhaps I have been more demanding than I like to admit.

Yet, my vision for church is not so much my personal creation as it is my attraction to what I see God doing in the Church in various places around the world, especially in elements of the emerging church movement.

My family and I attend a church service most Sundays, but not always the same church. Last week it turned out to be a fundie church. -shudder- But my wife had family there, so at least we could visit with them for a bit. I blogged about it, fwiw.

I wish there was a church within 20 minutes of our house where my family and I could fellowship. There's the tension between wanting to be part of a congregation whose geographic proximity allows relationships and the desire to be part of a body whose mission and practice reflects what I currently perceive to be Kingdom values.

i liked this post, and found myself nodding in agr...


i liked this post, and found myself nodding in agreement on many points.

forgive me if you've covered this in previous posts.. but my thought, (for what it's worth) .. is that no matter how hard we try to the contrary, we always default anf fall back toward the gathering.. the mechanics by which we assemble and become, well, a church (as in the noun).

the mechanics and assembly are important, no doubt..(and my last desire is to be preachy), but i've found over the past few years that the most authentic church community happens when we somehow become the verb; instead of building a bigger church, we do our darndest to church a bigger area. loving and serving and just plain old bringing it to those who are hurting or in need of a friend. it isn't always pleasant, nor is it familiar community or fellowship, but i have a hunch that the kind of church we all seek somehow happens as an unintended--but all the same craved--by-product.

P.S.That second statement from the apostle-wannabe...



That second statement from the apostle-wannabe is so pathetically obvious as blatant manipulation and control to those outside, but it's scary how those caught in that system probably won't/can't see it until it's too late...

Great post, Grace. Made me think. In some ways I e...


Great post, Grace. Made me think. In some ways I envy you for having found something, even if you're not sure what it is.

Grace,It sounds to me as if you've found both chur...



It sounds to me as if you've found both church and community.


Robby Mac,The thing that I had to learn about movi...


Robby Mac,
The thing that I had to learn about moving from the family reunion to true community is it takes time. A lot of it.

"Visiting somebody else's family reunion" made me ...


"Visiting somebody else's family reunion" made me smile. There's something about a shared history together that is very powerful.

We have other dynamics in place for us at this time: because YWAM has so many transient staff members, long-term shared history is not as common. So, we have to somehow "go deep" with people we've only known a short time, and who may move to another YWAM base in two years or so. We love the people we've met, but not having much shared history, it's not the same kind of friendship/community.

And because we merely "attend" a local church, while we've made some connections, it's like we're always visiting somebody else's family reunion, as you say. They're friendly and we like them, but there's not the level of "go deep" or even the casual familiarity of a BBQ with good friends.

We're still figuring out how this is going to work, so I'll quit rambling (for now).

Your Bonhoeffer quote comes from one of my very fa...


Your Bonhoeffer quote comes from one of my very favorite books. For such a thin book it packs in so much about community that can apply in many different settings.
Trying to keep aware of my own wish-dreams regarding church is sometimes a difficult task, thanks for the reminder.

First of all, I'm sorry that you were so hurt by y...


First of all, I'm sorry that you were so hurt by your last church. As a pastor I've been on the other side of being burnt. (I was lied right to my face by the people courting us to be their pastor) and I've been burnt as a congregant (whatever the right term is there).
What I notice about the Bonhoffer quote is that I think it has most aptly applied to me, my wife and our friends after we've been hurt by a church when we go to the next church. You mentioned this in your post here and other places.
We're not called to protect ourselves, at least as I read the Bible. Your last pastor hurting you doesn't mean this pastor will. (I've had to tell myself in that in 3 strait churches)
There is a great danger that those who left the CLB will start to form community around the hurts caused by the CLB. They need to be talked about and processed through but at the end of the day God has called all of us to forgive the CLB and move forward for the Kingdom. When I got to the point where I could honestly say I forgave those people and it didn't cause anger to rise up in me, that was an awesome day.
I hope this doesn't sound like preaching. I'm just trying to share my thoughts.

I need to study up on the CLB and your situation s...


I need to study up on the CLB and your situation sometime.

I think that you are asking some good questions and doing some real searching.

I don't think that it is wrong not to have the answers to your questions.

I do think that most people who "do church" are really not "doing church"

Grace,Great post. I live the remark about it bein...



Great post. I live the remark about it being like going to someone else's family reunion.

My experience is so different that yours but I find similarities as I try to reconstruct my "church membership". Not really too willing to jump into programs and cast my lot in with a new set of folks. But I hear great teaching one place, a connection with the true Church in another, but honestly, my people are still at my CLB. It is there that I feel at home.

I find it striking that the value/importance of the rest of the Sunday morning activity (worship, preaching, prayer, communion) is absent from this. Is this more about community and less about church? Or are those the same thing? I really don't know.

grace, your experience sounds a little surreal! do...


grace, your experience sounds a little surreal! does it make your head swim? my experience with my CLB is so different- if a bunch of those folks showed up at my church today, i'd freak and run! I'll be interested to see how all this goes for you.

btw- what's it like to have real (skin on) friends you can go deep with - talk for hours about spiritual matters? i haven't had that in a long time.

grin, like your base covering plan and your non-an...


grin, like your base covering plan and your non-answers :)