Psst… It’s the Kingdom

I’m preparing myself to be challenged. Last weekend I finished The Secret Message of Jesus; this week I start The Irresistible Revolution; in the queue are The Divine Conspiracy, The Politics of Jesus and Justice in the Burbs. (Peruse them all in my library.) The (secret) message is coming through loud and clear:

“Psst… It’s the Kingdom, dummy.”

Yeah, I can feel the stirring rumbling.

I think I’m ready for it. We’re a bit more than a year in with our little church. We’ve gotten to know each other well over that time, but we are all ready for something more. I wonder, however, what each of us has in the back of our minds? What sort of longing we are harboring or secretly hoping for?

Bring on the challenge.

Imagine…

Good questions from Jonny. His questions are in bold, my gut reactions in normal.

can we imagine…

church beyond gathering?
No – church is by definition a gathering.

church beyond once a week?
We must, because life cannot be shared, transformation cannot be wrought, and the Kingdom cannot be enacted otherwise.

church as always on connectivity to christ and one another?
Technology has given us new ways to relate and interact, so why not.

church where community is the content?
Again we must – without community there is no church.

theology and resources of church being open source?
Only if community takes a central place, so that there is accountability and testing. Wait, isn’t that what happens on blogs, Someone floats an idea, and others test that idea?

church valuing the wisdom of the crowd rather than the knowledge of the expert?
House church ought to facilitate this. The only expert is the Spirit, mediated in the community.

our church/spirituality being easily found by seekers because we tag it that way?
Only if we step back and take seriously the invitation to assist seekers vs. assimilate seekers.

an ethos of low control and collaboration?
There’s a lot of professional ministry inertia to overcome.

an economy of gift?
Yes! This is the Kingdom’s alternative to consumption and consumerism.

church as spaces for creative production and self publishing?
Goes hand in hand with gift.

church as providers of resources for spiritual seekers and tourists?
See above: only if we take them seriously and stop trying to assimilate them.

Thanks…

This was in Sojomail a week or so ago; first time I recall reading anything like it… unfortunately.

“I don’t want to impose my religious beliefs on you, but I believe God used you to correct us, and I appreciate that.”

- Rob Brendle, Associate Pastor of New Life Church, speaking with Mike Jones, the former male prostitute who exposed former New Life pastor Ted Haggard’s history of drug use and adultery. (Source: J-Walking)

The Real Mary Sunday School Class 3

Mary & Jesus 3OK, so I promised I’d answer the question, How do we pray and live out this story of physical liberation when we are not physically oppressed? This is something that’s been on my mind lately. During the Class, we wrestled with this. A few days earlier our home group/church (I’ll start talking about this soon… once I get back into a rhythm here.) went through a few passages of Scripture where the cry for liberation was also expressed, and we, too, struggled to identify with the cry. After all, we are by any sensible standard wealthy and free living in the USA. We suffer no great oppression; truth be told, we don’t suffer much of anything. So, how do we appropriate (Pardon the verb.) these passages and work them into our faith and Jesus-following? Continue reading

The Real Mary Sunday School Class 2

Mary & Jesus 2Well… looks like the networks are rearranging things once again, so I’m back. In the hour class I came out of chapters 2 & 3 of The Real Mary. Since this was my first time teaching at BCC, I was planning a one-off event at the end of which I’d float the idea of a 4-6 week class on the rest of the book. (I’ve got enough interest to look into it.) So, in keeping with the Christmas season, I kept to the pre-Nativity Story in Luke 1. Continue reading

The Real Mary Sunday School Class 1

Mary & Jesus 1So, I was one of those who got in on the ground floor for Scot‘s new book, The Real Mary. (I feel like I can call him Scot, since (1) I was a part of the push for this book; (2) I think we were able to contribute an anecdote to his previous book, Praying with the Church; and (3) I had no trouble remembering to call him Scot with one “t”.) Yesterday, I taught a class based on the first few chapters during both services at BCC. I was pretty nervous going into the morning. It had been a while since I’d taught, so I was feeling a little rusty. More than that, though, I was excited. Here was a chance to share what I’d been learning with my community. BCC has two morning services, and I offered the class during both.

The first class turned our to be mostly my support group: Kerri, a couple who are among our dearest friends, and one young lady whom I didn’t know. The hour went well, and my nerves settled…

…because the announcement made during the first service was effective. I had nine in the second class and didn’t know a one. No problem, though. The hour went well. One nice lady thinks I should teach a class every Sunday! I don’t know about that, but I’ll definitely look into something again.

Studio 60 is about to come on, so I’ll share what I talked about later.

Basics of “Simplified Church”

Good stuff from House Church Blog. Noting the following for the future:

The basics of “simplified church” are:

  1. Shared community life. This simple dynamic is far more powerful than we realize. It is the basis for transformation as well as for support for the “quests” that each of us are called to be a part of.
  2. Participatory community life. This is also a simple concept with powerful results. As each one learns to take responsibility and develop his or her gifts for the good of the community (1 Cor 14:26), there is a maturing process for the whole body of Christ that is so vitally needed. We become “self-feeders” rather than living dependently on others to bring us the milk of the word. We are thus equipped to become mature disciples and to multiply ourselves in others.
  3. Missional living. We discover the joy and adventure of partnering with God out in the world where life happens and where God’s life is meant to be shared. This is a unique journey for each and every person and we are not expecting one person’s adventure to look like anothers. But… we learn to get out of our Christian-go-to-meetin’ comfort zones and allow God to develop our missional-adventure-partnership-with-God lives.

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Poem: Mary Oliver: The Vast Ocean Begins Just Outside Our Church: The Eucharist

From The Writer’s Almanac a few weeks back.

The Vast Ocean Begins Just Outside Our Church: The Eucharist

Something has happened
to the bread
and the wine.

They have been blessed.
What now?
The body leans forward

to receive the gift
from the priest’s hand,
then the chalice.

They are something else now
from what they were
before this began.

I want
to see Jesus
maybe in the clouds

or on the shore,
just walking,
beautiful man

and clearly
someone else
besides.

On the hard days
I ask myself
if I ever will.

Also there are times
my body whispers to me
that I have.