Posts Tagged ‘community’

Thought Provoking

December 22, 2009

My friend recently included me in a facebook dialogue that she started in order to think about how the church might better be the church.  Her letter is below.  This post will be long, but it is worth it and may turn into a series of posts.  Comments are not only welcomed, but encouraged.  : )  I pray any who read these words will show me much grace in putting them to paper as I seek to refine the chaos that is often my brain.

Everyone,
I’ve spent much time in recent months deeply in the desert of prayer. I love our church, its people, its mission… its hope. More than anything, I treasure the life giving transformation that happens so often there (my son finding true life, as the most shining example).

I’m sharing a few thoughts I’ve had that would provide a way for us to grow in the blessing of glorifying God through what we already have and do in slightly different ways, as well as a few simple new ways to bring Him glory and us to a more familial place.

The main point here is to begin a discussion with a larger community within our larger “C” Community and gather thoughts and possible volunteers to help us find the steps in our new dance with the Holy Spirit in the diaspora God blessed us with to bring us closer to him in these financially creative times.

Be blessed — in the freedom to know exactly who you are (and are not;-) in the hope and possibility of a God who loves us enough to call us to accountability.

Love,
10-weed

Our church showers amazing love & grace for those well-connected in the church. What of those on periphery, not sure how to get in? Do we have a volunteer base set up for helping them with funerals, like a funeral committee of sorts, to provide for their needs? Bringing lunch, helping with reception after the funeral, childcare, household help, food donations, etc.?

Art Gallery – With so many gifted artists in our faith community, and so much wall space, why are we not celebrating those gifts by hanging them for a month or quarter? (Understandably, given the economic situation, interested artists should pull together a plan for what they would like to showcase, where & plan to invest their own time in glorifying God by setting those on display themselves after gaining approval.)

Events around town section – to encourage our faith community to be present in the world outside of our church walls as a way to carry the gospel they seek to live into the lives of others by fellowshipping in the midst of life??

Website noodling:
Not just what we do at our church, but *why* we believe we are called to do it.

What do we aim to teach our children, young adults, varying adult classes? And why?

What are the classes studying now, or planning to study in the near future?

Major theological ideas we celebrate:
What are they??
(Baptism, reconciliation, communion, confirmation…)

Pertaining to valuable pre-education:
What topics are covered?
Expectations participants should have
What it is that they are doing from a faith perspective, as in bringing their child forth for baptism
Expectations parents (if applicable) should have
The faith community’s role/responsbility in these events, and in the lives of its members

Well, I have no idea how much of this will apply, but below are my thoughts of in response to what is mentioned above. This is my first response kind of deal so there is not a great deal of refinement of these ideas at this point. Anyway, here ’tis:

  • I think you hit the nail on the head with childcare. While I don’t have children, I have heard about this dynamic from a few different places. It is frustrating for younger generations where both husband and wife work to be involved in the life and work of the church when there is no childcare available. I think it was a book I read named “Tribal Church” by Rev. Carol Howard Meritt who talked about a church (maybe hers?) where they had child care available whenever the doors were open for any church related “function” whether it is a meeting or a Bible study.
  • It seems to me that another area of frustration for both older and younger generations is the inclusion of young adults. In some circles, the young adults are included with the “youth” ministry. While there are definitely similarities in format and so on, the life issues that young adults deal with are significantly different. There are struggles on both sides for sure, but the young adults (and youth) aren’t just the future of the church, they are the church in the same way that the generations that have gone before them are. And they have a lot to share if they are invited not to the table of Christ as passive participants but as people whose thoughts and ideas are validated and put into practice as legitimate ministry ideas. Lack of experience doesn’t mean a lack of good ideas….it just means those ideas may need more support of those who have gone before them.
  • Something that has also given me food for thought are the niches of the community that are in need of more assistance. Groups that come to mind: – Single parents: offer free child care – People from other countries: offer classes on English idioms, etc. (these people are often much smarter than we give them credit for becuase they are not always able to put their thoughts into English as well as a mative speaker. But I often ask myself, “Self, can I speak their language?” The answer is always no unless it is French and even in that I am on a 3rd grade level (if that) so I respect anyone who is pursuing a career or education in a language that is not their native tongue.)
  • Those with developmental/physical disabilities: It seems to me that it is not just important that these folks are a part of the body of Christ in thought or ideal, but in reality and action. Are these folks attending your services? Are these folks invited to be integral members of committees and serving as deacons who pass the collection plates and assist with communion and other visible events? While many times we feel these folks are disadvantaged (even the term “disability” is not helpful though it is maybe a bit better than “handicapped”), the reality is that in many aspects they are probably much more equipped for ministry. 
  • Talking about race – Do people in our church (whatever church that may be) feel comfortable talking about race and ethnicity?  In an effort to make sure no one was offended, I feel as though I grew up ignoring differences so there was no possibility of offending anyone.  This is not helpful.  The language we use to talk about race and ethnicity is also not helpful.  For those of us white folks, how many know what caucasian is?  Most of us aren’t actually caucasian.  Not are all of us white folks Anglos either to use another common word.  The diversity of humanity is beyond any system of categorization that the IRS or anyone else comes up with.  It seems to me that even if we are welcoming of others (whatever “other” is for each of us) in theory, if we aren’t comfortable talking about the differences in perception and aren’t willing to validate another persons way of doing something it is no longer about Christ.  At this point it is about how we are doing something and this is stifling to the Spirit and the Body of Christ. 

These thoughts both humble and challenge me.  Their incompleteness is heartbreaking.  And their lack of wings to fly into the face of the status quo are debilitating to me as well as the church.

Community: Foiled Again

January 10, 2009

A friend of mine who blogs at Deeper in Me than I posted an articleabout a church she interned at in Philly.  I think the article, and this church, really capture something about community.  In fact I think much of the church’s attempts at community fail because they simply don’t get this.  But I don’t distance myself from that group that “doesn’t get it” because I am just beginning to see it.  This quote in the article really captures the crux of it for me

“If we act as if BSM [Broad Street Ministry] is about OK people helping not-OK people – that’s not a community”

While many soup kitchens and homeless shelters do what they can with what they have in order to benefit the most amount of people, I have not heard of another place where homeless folks are served at tables with white linen table cloths.  After all, if we have a friend or family member over for dinner, we wouldn’t usually pull out the plastic forks and spoons and serve their food on paper plates. 

Jesus destroyed class and hierarchy.  The last place we should find it is in the church.  And yet it is there.  Like the pink elephant in the room.  It’s sad.  Very sad.  Our communion is broken.  The oneness God desires us to have with the rest of God’s image-bearers  is broken in pieces.  Because we don’t see the people who are homeless, the people who collect our trash, and the person who are prostitutes as people.  We objectify them and denigrate them as “other” in order to maintain our comfortable living conditions.  The truth is we are all “not-OK.”

God?  Please help me and my brothers and sisters to embrace those of your children that the world has deemed rejects.  Please help us to restore the fellowship that should exist between all people.  And let us start with one person at a time.

Full time

June 10, 2008

So I have really been thinking about the possibility to going to seminary full time.  Reasons? 

  1. I feel divided: work/school.  I know this is something many people deal with (and overcome!) for instance those who are married and going to school and working AND parents! (or some combination of those things) but in those cases, it seems there isn’t a choice but to “take those things with you” so to speak.  I don’t have to take my job with me.  Clear as mud?
  2. Priorities: I spend the bulk of my energy on something that is short term, namely my job.  What is leftover is given to my highest priority: answering the call of God.  Now that seems bass ackwards.
  3. Community: I feel the way I relate to people is…different than most.  It is almost as if it is idea based.  I’m not quite sure how to explain this…I don’t think I fully understand it and honestly it could be a bunch of whoey but I’m kinda sorting through that at the moment.  If I go to seminary full time I am pretty sure it will be much easier to become a part of the community moreso than part time Distance Ed classes allow.
  4. Dotoral Studies: I am starting to wonder if Doctoral studies is where my path is leading.  Doing that part time would be…well, ridiculous.  That’s already a long process to begin with.  I am not sure I see any need to make it last longer.

So I’m at the point now where I am no longer asking if going to seminary full time is a possibility or alloweable if you will, but rather I am now asking, “When?”  At the moment I think it would be great to be able to go full time by Spring semester of 2009.  That’s 6 months away.  I am sure it will fly by!  This also brings about the question: “Where?”  Right now I work at the university where I attend seminary and the tuition benefits are beautiful.  So if I quite the job, all strings are cut so to speak.  A frightfully wonderful blank slate seems to be opening up. 

Well, my brain is full and I need to go to bed. Good night blogosphere.