Emerging church as a manifestation of our subcultures weakness PART 2 | home | 10 Steps towards a redefinition of church
September 9, 2005
Please note this is a work in process and an offering but will be developing as I think more and get feedback, but first a bit more background to set the context.
Dulles identifies several models/aspects that are present in church, community, herald, servant, institution, sacrament, disciples, but as I pointed out in Off the Beaten Track, Dulles talks about church being a union with the divine, not fully intelligible to human minds â€œFor this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.â€? This is a profound mystery â€“ but I am talking about Christ and the Church.â€™(Eph 5 vs 31-32). Dulles suggests that this concept of mystery is closely linked to the mystery of Christ which is why the bible uses imagery when describing church, therefore it may be easier to define what the church is not (which we have discussed in earlier posts). He goes onto to say that images can suggest â€œattitude and a course of actionâ€? .
Therefore I would suggest that the attitude should one that redefined the theology of church as whole of the life balanced with the course of action that is about the process of chaotic and intentional being. (for more on the anarchistic God check out Gen 28 10-22, Exodus 3 or 2 Sam 7)
In my minds eye I see a group of people (some of whom are committed to exploring chaotic but intentional encounters with God, one another, and the world) coming together to engage in a process being together, doing together, reflecting together, doing together and so on. Each person regardless of age, status in the group or ability, suggests activities that the group engage with and so the process starts. Different people will bring their different passions and interests to the group, and as they engage together in this breadth of activities, and bring the breadth of their lives to the group, together they will start being church with the whole of our life.
The core group would have an understanding that this chaotic but intentional encounters was church AND that the encounters of life (when the group is not together) are part of or add to the shared chaotic experiences. It would be group facilitated rather than led. Implicit within this is the notion of process, recognising that we find God in the seeking and the ongoing nature of process. When Jesus says seek and you will find, doesnâ€™t necessarily mean that you fill the God shaped whole in your life but that as the mystics would say any God we know cannot be god as God is always bigger etc, we are human becomings as Pip Wilson would say. http://www.sundaypapers.org.uk/?p=167
This approach would allow for a variety of things to be done, if I look at in my context with just one other family involved at the start, I could see people suggesting, going on a demo, eating together, visiting the local organic fair, colouring, computer games, the FaSt game, a party, an alternative worship event. All of which would be discussed and reflected on together, and create a sense of growing openness and a greater outwardness. It would change the way we approach childrens work as they could suggest stuff as equal members and their thoughts and opinions equally valued and acted on.
I know there is lots of tweaking needed and issues with this kind of openness, but a story from my friend Soren helps that came from conversation with a farmer in the Australian outback. When farming over such a vast area, Soren wondered how could they control the animals, maintaining the fences must take forever. The farmers response was â€œwe donâ€™t have fences we just have wellsâ€?. This redefining of church gives space for loosing the rules and regulations of what is or isnâ€™t church and all the rules attached and replaces it with an open attitude that allows people to journey towards becoming more fully human whist the intentionally chaotic actions and activities add to the process acting as the wells that draw people together and to the source.
The key is a mindset change on what is church and then finding ways to act on this in life. I have offered one possible outlook, that is by no means whole, and for many will be in part what they are doing already and are drawn towards, but I think when the definition of church is changed/explored it becomes a liberating and validating process.