(Thanks David Berry for this energizing photo entitled little blessings)
The post cautions me from”mega-church”-bashing … even though I don’t “feel” called to lead BLC in that “model”. Of course, I’ve given up on “traditional church” basing when I realized how much I’ve learnt from them … and having a friend who is genuinely exploring the “micro church” & “house church” option … I’m all ears to listen how’s the adventure so far ðŸ™‚
Healthy and Hopeful quotes in BOLD …
(with a tinge of concern and caution)
… Brian McLaren brainstormed possibilities for the groups to take advantage of the traditional churches around them and create a hybrid approach to assembling. While it is cozy to really bond with the eight people in your house church, there is also something wonderful about singing with a few hundred – or thousand – people, even if you do not know most of them. And, it seems as if it would be a good reminder that no one has a corner on the worship market.
… Extending grace to others about their form of worship will help all of us remain flexible and responsive. Self-righteousness about micro church makes for awkward departures – in format or membership. I find that you can generally tell the health of a group by their exit strategies. If it’s hard for people to leave with dignity and grace then they’re probably there for the wrong reasons. If it is hard for the group to change their format then it is probably using programmatic elements for the wrong reasons as well.
… the leaders reminded Mayhem attendees often that micro church is not right, better or more godly. It’s simply responding to the current realities and willing to do so without looking like church. For the micro church movement to maintain its power and effect it must be willing to move to whatever is needed, even if that means a return to large assemblies. The hallmark of this movement is not small but rather intentional, responsive and loving.
Knowing David personally and listening from him face to face, I’ve learnt that God has never given up with us “messed up” people … and I’ve had the joy to see how God works in the life of this resident alien in a “Lutheran Church” context … whether it’s Australia or humid Malaysia!
I have had a mixed walk since I found Jesus that has been hot and cold with a very lengthy period of not attending Church at all. It was not due to being hurt however by the Church but rather my seeking too much of self and not thinking about God other than on a peripheral level. I have always believed of course but my knowledge was so vague and imprecise that I could not express it for myself much less others.
Fortunately God did not forget me and eventually he brought Sigrun into my life and with her I slowly began to renew my faith and rediscover the love I had been missing for so many years. Her warmth toward people created a real interest in her particular faith and I studied it like I tend to most things in my life. I liked what I found and I felt so at home with the Lutheran Church that I took adult confirmation lessons and was confirmed.
That was very much for me about renewing my faith and walk with Jesus and becoming a Lutheran was my conduit. I have more or less (sometimes less) attended Church ever since but still did not do much other than an occaisonal bible study. I have however never felt let down by the congregations I have been part of. I have not been pressured though we have been asked to serve from time to time which exposed us to some of the politics. (yes even church does not escape this)
Since being in KL however my eyes have been opened considerably to the possibilities of God. I have begun to study what it means to be a christian. I have begun to open my ears to what he is telling me and though I do not always like it I know it is right for me. Mostly what I have learnt is that it is hard to be a true disciple, I recognise that I am that rich young ruler who walked away sad, I recognise that I am full of sin, I recognise that I am proud and arrogant and I recognise that we are meant to serve. This is what Jesus was telling us when he washed his disciples feet. He did not say serve to the extent that you ignore everything else but he was definitely saying serve.
This has gotten me to think a little more about church trends. In the “emerging” church environment there is often a call to decentralize, resist organization and loosely connect with others in highly intimate, relational environments. It seems to be non-organization, yet very “Me incorporated”, in my view.
At the same time, the critique of the modern, traditional church by the emerging church has some basis in reality. The non-profit corporations of the church do have a kind of shareholder base–the members. So the church can really be an “all about us” organization that defines its ethics based on how certain actions effect the members. This is possibly the way cultural isolation and societal irrelevance is birthed in some churches.
I do not abhor organization. I do question so-called non-organizational, organic relationships that attempt to define themselves as a new kind of church. That just may be another version of “Me” incorporated, except without the incorporation.
How might the church rethink itself as an environment of purpose rather than place? In my church, the members come from 8-10 different cities, some as far as 30 miles away. Very few of us live within walking distance of one another and have daily lives organized around many different activities. We are very unlikely to see each other in grocery stores or neighborhoods in the course of our weeks. We do gather on Sundays (so traditional!) and in weekly small groups. That’s all by intention. It occurs to me that this is starting to look a lot like the businesses to which many people in my community commute.
What if we started seeing our churches as organizations that did seek to bring “member value,” but also as ones ethically committed to their communites? What if our churches started seeing themselves not only as spiritual, worshipping groups, but also as organizations that carry ethical responsibilities in their respective communities?