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July 18, 2009
July 17, 2009
Yesterday, the Registrar’s Office, in cahoots with our boss’ wife and sons, gathered for a surprise 30-year work anniversary lunch. Now, I know other offices gather for such things, but our office (like every other office at our university) has a distinctive: every person here is a confessing follower of Jesus. All those who gathered for lunch yesterday are members of the Church, but the gathering itself was not church.
What might this tell us about being church in the world?
Now, if we are honest, we admit that we do these things well, poorly, or somewhere in between. Awareness of our connections, the adequacy of our training, the impact of our sent-ness, and the submission or our lives exist on an unfortunate sliding scale.
How might the gathered church more adequately train for its service as the sent church?
July 16, 2009
Most of us, at one time or another, tire of where we are and yearn for somewhere easier, more productive, or more pleasant. There is nothing unusual in this. When faced with such a yearning, some buckle down or shake it off and remain where they are. Others move on to what they suppose are greener pastures. Whether the greener pasture is a job, city, relationship, or church, the desire for something better and the need to make a decision remain.
What do we mean by “greener pastures” and what, if any, are our responsibilities in connection with them?
When faced with a yearning for greener pastures, the temptation is to follow our emotions. Desire for adequate resources, adequate social space, the encouraging and equipping our call, good fit with our worldview, and an accurate assessment of our personal worth should not be ignored or suppressed.
The emotions associated with these desires are an important signal that something in life needs tending, but the emotions themselves are inadequate for deciding how to respond. When we move on to greener pastures, we leave behind relationships and responsibilities. Therefore, we must give thoughtful consideration before leaving for greener pastures.
When the greener pasture is a church
Like other communities build on committed relationships, church can and should be a difficult place to leave. We must go beyond emotions and consider why we desire to leave, what we are leaving, and where we are going.
Without thoughtful consideration, we may leave this church and go to that church, only to discover that church does not meet our needs either. Worse, that church may meet our felt needs, but not our deep needs–and we may not realize it.
Before we go hunting greener pastures, let us think through what we ought to mean by that.
Adequate Social Space
Encourage and Equip My Calling
Fit My Worldview
Accurate Assessment of My Worth
No particular church on earth will meet all these criteria perfectly, for on earth we are a mixed bag–both as persons and as community. We meet these criteria more or less. Each must decide how much less it can be before moving on to greener pastures.
But there is another question.
We must also ask, “Will I work with other believers to plant greener pastures?” If the answer to that question is, “No,” you need to evaluate whether or not you are the real problem. If you are the problem, you will take you with you and the same issues will arise.
Before moving on to greener pastures, consider:
July 16, 2009
Two seemingly opposed facts characterize my life as a member of Christ’s Body:
Why not leave?
To this I merely answer that the Head of the Church has called me to this place. This answer is sufficient.
But another answer emerges, if we transform the question a bit:
For what purpose do I remain in this church?
Am I doing all this?
Not yet, but I hold it before my eyes and before the eyes of my fellows. Distractions (internal and external) occur and resistance (mostly passive) happens, but the call remains, so here I stay.
Why do you “go to church”?
July 15, 2009
In the New Testament, at least three aspects of church are seen: local, universal, and eschatological. Of these three, local receives the most discussion. In Paul, for example, local church seems to refer both to all the Christians in a city (see the first verses of nearly every letter) and to a body of Christians meeting in a particular house (see Col. 4:15).
In both cases–the city and the house–there is high probability for embodied interaction. In such settings, learning, training, and spiritual formation can take place in ordinary life.
But what happens when we gather outside of ordinary life (on the web, for example)? It seems to me that dialogue, sharing stories and knowledge, can lead to true learning, but outside of ordinary life together, can we work together in ways that train us with the skills to walk God’s ways and carry out his mission? Can we get a sufficient sense of one anothers’ character to provide the sorts of exhortation and encouragement that facilitate spiritual formation?
What do you think?
July 14, 2009
The whole world comes to L.A. to attend school; hundreds are in the South Bay. What an amazing gift God has given us: he brought the ends of the earth to our doorstep and all we need do is come alongside them in ordinary life and witness to Jesus.
The call to connect as church in our city has converged with the call to witness to Jesus to the ends of the earth.
What a priceless gift.
July 5, 2009
Over at Outside is Better, Chad Brooks is calling us to tell the truth about ecclesiology in the local church. He opens with three Ally Bank commercials that expose the ridiculous and unfair bait-and-switch practices of banking, and then segues into a discussion of our too often bait-and-switch ecclesiology. He finishes the post with four suggested practices:
Read (and discuss) the entire post at Outside is Better.
Running his suggestions through a bit of functional ecclesiology: What might leaders and members do to create a community in which these sorts of spiritual practices are common and expected? Here are three suggestions:
What have you to add?