Friday, July 28, 2006

The Connecting Church

I have just finished reading this book for a class and I have so many reactions to it that I am struggling to sort them out. I need to write a paper on it and so I am sure during that incubation period my brain will move from a "spaghetti" state to a more logical state over the book. Perhaps I should sort out my thoughts before trying to blog about some of them. Oh, well - this may help sort things out.

I am not sure that the model of small group community presented in this book is attractive to me (can I say that without being labelled consumeristic?). I understand that missional living and true community can happen best when lived out authentically in one's place of business, school, work and neighborhood. I get that. I am not sure though that I can fully embrace the intensity of it. Bottom line, I get bored too quicky. If I feel like I have to be with the same people, all the time, I tend to flee. It is a very strange trait, and I know that already. I have a circle of friends that I share great intimacy and community with. I love that, but it seems so spontaneous and creative still, compared to the "mandated" manner in which this small group system of Frazee's appears. Bottom line, I think I tend to lose interest and get bored with something (even as necessary as communtiy) when I am backed into a corner and have no option for change or reinvention.

Having said that, I understand the point of the system laid out in the book, is to make community "all of life" and not a system or a program. It is a way of being in the world, the church and in life. I know that in my head, I can't get my heart to go there completely.

But here is one thing I have loved from this book. Frazee talks about community forming around common belief. It is a rare thing to truly share common beliefs on theological issues. He sees this as a barrier to community. I have never thought of this and sometimes even pride myself on "being different" to the group. So, I have explored this idea and pulled the "30 core beliefs" from the Pantego church website. The reason it is making me excited, is that I think I have a core of things I want to teach my kids. Not that they have to flesh out the same way, but so that we can hold up these things and say, "this is what I believe." I love this. It is perhaps the start of them developing a true theology & ecclesiology.

1 comment:

Eric the tall Bible student said...

I know exactly what you mean, Arlene. I don't want the natural living out of my spirituality turned into a "programmed natural living out of my spirituality." I react to this, as well. I'm sure there is good to be had, though, but you have a leg up since I haven't read the book. I'm so tired of seeing so many books out there on the same stuff, too. Now we get to know how to live out a Christian community because we read the right book. I'm very cinical about this kind of thing these days. An awful lot of good Christian people are reading an awful lot of good Christian books written by good Christian writers and there still aren't any more good Christians out there than there were twenty years ago. Would persecution go a lot further to create a healthier church than a good publishing company?

Now, I don't want to pour cold water on it all. I appreciate all the thoughts and I do believe in living the life in community much more than just "coming together as the church." We need to see the breakthrough. So many more people need to taste this, though, and books can't do that. I can tell you about the sound of a new kind of music all day and you'll never have a hope of reproducing it until you hear it. These communities need to be created, not talked about and described. We need experience and then reproduction.

Thanks for the blog. Excellent subject.