Monday, September 22, 2008

Where Do We Go From Here?



Ok, most of us have left the structure of the IC. We have all likely experienced some of the same doubts, hurts, fears, and frustrations on this journey with various jumping off spots, but where do we go from here?

The word exile from the book we are discussing, resonates with where we are on this journey.....not a part of the culture we left behind, and not sure where we are headed. At times, I actually think I know where I am going, today I am not sure at all. My good friend Jim suggested a book to me "Pagan Christianity? exploring the roots of our church practices" by Frank Viola. The information I gathered from this book in regards to church history and how we got here has removed the last sections of handrails that kept me safe and has torn my map of where I thought I was headed to pieces. ( I still love Jim, maybe even more!)

So as we attempt to redeem the idea of what church is, to ourselves, and our sphere of influence, what will that look like to us?

Will we have a building?

Will there be preaching at our gatherings?

What will leadership look like?

What to do with the idea of tithing and salaries?


What are your thoughts and questions?

16 comments:

Jimbo said...

I was playing with this same thought yesterday (catalized by visiting website for place called the Refuge in Denver). When talking with Joy about this, I had the following thought. And Okay, this is probably going to sound really stupid, but here it goes.
The thought that came to mind was from this movie we rented not long ago called "Accepted" (http://www.acceptedmovie.com/). By guys who did "American Pie", so...
Anyway, in this movie, a group of kids who can't get accepted into any college end up starting their own and re-thinking what it means to "go to college". One of the things I liked about this was they asked all of the students what they wanted to learn. They started this wall of class ideas. Many of them were pretty wacky, but the students developed a passion for teaching each other and learning.
Can we start from some place like that? I mean, what would you want in a faith experience (church for lack of better words)? What would you want to be a part of that?

Matthew said...

Jimbo, that is a great idea. I actually saw that movie.
I understand the desire for structure but isn't that one of the things that has made us exiles. The earliest believers were isolated communities on the margins of the Roman Empire that took care of each other. They met in each other's homes, ate together and worshiped together but there was no "church", just the body of Christ. I read a statistic that said there are almost 2 million (aproximately) people in the U.S. that claim to be devout Christians (whatever that means) without any affiliation to a church. Again I feel like I'm intruding and I haven't met any of you, but does there need to be any structure? Structure seems to be something that people feel a need to create for comfort and I don't mean that in a bad way. Anyway, I feel like I'm ramblimg.

Jimbo said...

Matt, actually, I agree with you. I believe the structure of the thing has caused us to drift away from being followers of Jesus and made it easy for people to go thru motions of "church" w/o living any of that in their lives (and let me say I am always flowndering, trying to figure out what that looks like).
I love nonstructure because it allows for things to happen. Instead, what I'm hoping for is more of a throwing out of ideas (along the line I think Randy was going) what people think this thing is, or more, what they are looking for. Sometimes we focus a lot on what we don't like about the IC and I guess I'm just looking for some positive direction. I'm interested in hearing where people think this is going and voices like yours and anyone else's is appreciated. Keep posting and hope to meet you someday.

Magoo said...

Jimbo, here is my attempt at the idea wall (didn't realize how hard this is, I attempted twice earlier and just sat and drooled on myself)

*A place where all participants are real, honest,humble, vulerable, messy
*A place where questions and not having it all figured out is OK
*A place free of levels--we are all on equal ground
*As mentioned, little or no
structure
.....

Jimbo said...

Magoo,
Good start!
I think you forgot one of the most important ingredients...good beer/wine.
I also like the idea where everyone is participating...asking questions, throwing in responses.
Everyone feels comfortable participating and sharing thier thoughts and ideas.

Matt said...

Magoo, I'm sorry if it sounded like I was saying we shouldn't be thinking of these things. I like the discussion and I like your ideas. One question I have is how to get out and be missional in the community? I thought I read something in one of the blogs about feeding homeless but beyond that I would love to be apart of something that desplays the radical love of Jesus in tangible ways inside and outside of the cohort.

maventheavenger aka jamie said...

Great thoughts, guys. I also must admit I LOVED that movie.
I like Matt's thoughts about more missional activities. How can we reach out to those around us who we are already involved with even more?

Magoo said...

Matt,Jamie--How?...we have to get past our egos, our fear of soiling ourselves, and the messiness of people in the margins. We have a great example in Jesus, who was a master at becoming liquid and pouring himself in the cracks of people's lives. We must change to become liquid and free flowing and MUCH more aware of the opportunities that are before us every day. We need to not distinguish between secular and sacred. God is always at work in all poeple and every place at all times, we must tune-in to not miss opportunities. I have begun asking myself several times a day "Am I missing anything", learning to be aware. We must share our stories of encounter with each other and also missed opportunities to encourage our community to live outside of comfort. May the Spirit open our eyes and ears!

maventheavenger aka jamie said...

I'd like to spend more time talking about what's going on in our lives when we are together. I don't necessarily think we need to be doing these activities together (seeing as we all live spread out), but talking about what we are doing is encouraging.

Yard said...

Love all of this - please allow me to partake...

I'd like to throw out a concept that I'm hoping may round out the 'where do we go next?' question.

We've talked about the ebbs and flows that the church has experienced for thousands of years. What we sometimes forget is that one 'ebb', as recorded in Biblical or extra-Biblical history, can be many generations wide. Most of us are seeing some significant shifts now, but we may be wanting to see their fruition too quickly.

We (the whole emerging movement) are experiencing the beginning of a new ebb. As such, we have attracted and are chalked full of pioneers and exiles. But the body as a whole, to be healthy, will need to have all her gifts to move forward. This may take a while.

I'm not suggesting we get too comfortable, that we build permanent structures and altars. I am suggesting that we set up camp, for a while, and rest. Let's solemnly listen, discuss, and love each other and God. Let's rest and heal from the civil wars we've left behind. It's been a long day for some of us.

My point is this: it 'feels' weird sometimes because we're in this middle place. No railings. But we may be a step that is needed to move the church to a more mature place. And so we're needed here, now. How many of us have found some healing and rest in our camp? I know I have. How many more (in just Phoenix) could use it, that are ready to throw in the towel?

Lately I've been firming my belief that this movement is God's doing. If this is true, we should be patient and understand that we may be agents of change for future generations, not just for ourselves.

So should we move to action? I think yes, if we're ready. Some of us might be ready now. Some of us might need to take a breather. I believe there is room in our community for both, and that is refreshing. Let us not overwork each other, nor let one another become stagnant.

Matt said...

Jacob, your comments remind me of Michael Frost's description of a church in Exiles. Do you remember the church with the "hot" and "cold" zones. I love that image of people involved in the same worship but at different levels and the church making it comfortable for each group.
I find it easy to get fired up, but the truth is I'm very new to this. Honestly, I've never had this depth of conversation about Jesus with anyone, and sometimes (most of the time) I admit I'm scared to death of where my faith is leading me. Everyone needs a safe place and if that's the only thing we offered that would be great.

maventheavenger aka jamie said...

I agree, Jacob. I think we do need a place to heal. I also think we need a place to move forward. I think we also need to create a safe place for those who are still involved in churches.

Tom F said...

Since I am a relative outsider I can be some what impartial but also somewhat lost since I don't know exactly what goes on in yours dens of heresy (I'm joking).
I think if you all are wondering how to grow as a group I think Jimbo is on the right path(regarding teaching and learning), and I think its valuable to share whats going on with your lives as Jaime mentioned either for support or encouragement.
Regarding what Magoo wrote in the post. I don't believe Christ ever meant the church to have walls, it was meant to be his body (post resurrection) moving about and living his life for him. Jesus also meant for us to be servants and not seek status so I think any hierarchy is a worldly construct. I am not sure what Magoo means by preaching, but when I hear that if makes me thing of is a proclamation without opportunity to question or interact. And finally regarding the tithe, I think if it is not compulsory is a good idea to donate money to a common fund to use for helping anyone who needs help as well as for festivals etc. The idea of a relational tithe (relationaltithe.org)where you can network with other believers creates a real "storehouse" is an intriguing idea.
Regardless I think you all are on the right path.
Keep rocking in the free world.

Yard said...

What a good discussion. Well done Magoo.

Thanks for the encouragement Tom. Good thoughts, hope to see you again and also that we continue to hear from you. Something just popped in my head when I read your comment about tithing:

We could share the groups or causes we support individually and list them on our site. We wouldn't have to share who gives to which org (although I'm down to share), but it could be cool to see collectively what our group is up to behind the scenes. It could also be a decent talking point for us internally, and we could see the diversity of the gifts we give.

Adam, do you think it would clutter the site too much if we added a 'what we support' section, with links & logos?

Anybody have any edits to the idea?

maventheavenger aka jamie said...

I'd really like to be giving money to people we actually know. Maybe if there is an emergency in lives around us?

Jilliefl1 said...

I think Frank Viola's new book, "Reimagining Church", answers quite well the questions of what church should look like outside of the institution. It's the just-out sequel to "Pagan Christianity". It picks up where “Pagan Christianity” left off and continues the conversation. (“Pagan Christianity” was never meant to be a stand alone book; it’s part one of the conversation.) “Reimagining Church” is endorsed by Leonard Sweet, Shane Claiborne, Alan Hirsch, and many others. You can read a sample chapter at
http://www.ReimaginingChurch.org
It’s also available on Amazon.com. Frank is also blogging now at http://www.frankviola.wordpress.com. Also, have you seen the spoof video for "Pagan"? Very funny. Check it out at http://youtube.com/watch?v=hslswIal9u4.