It seems like a lifetime ago… part four

Don’t forget we where still homeless, we were not a part of a church network or a denomination… not even a book club really! So what were we to do? The guys we loved theologically were a bit hesitant about what we were up to… really no Sunday service (although I did hear someone refer to The Story as a Sunday service… epic fail!), no preaching (more correctly no monologue but shall we save that for another day?). Basically it felt like we love you and you have good intentions but you are going too far… Why are you trying to do church differently. After all it has been working fine all these years. Look at all the people just like me that have been saved.

The guys who do get what we were trying to do, are the guys who are a bit trickier theologically, very broad, a bit slippery on some key questions and just a little bit fruity (love you guys!). Mostly they longed for church to be different not for the sake of mission but for the sake of their (and their tribes) preferences or desire to see more social action, more authentic worship (by this they normally mean singing), better community or less autocratic authority.

Honestly I can relate to a lot of this – sometimes the happy Hillsong crowd drives me balmy. And if I hear one more vision about the new building I might just vomit. But yet all of this is pretty much just about me. What would me and my friends prefer? What are my pet peeves, well let’s create a new community that does worship/social justice/ teaching / community better?

What we are trying to do is to not make church all about us. I could quite happily (so I think) be plugged back into the matrix and just become a “church guy” again. Lock me in my study with my books, preach some moderately interesting sermons, be a part of a loving community (except when it’s not), send my kids to Sunday school and enjoy being a part of a bigger group of men and women who are working to keep churches running faithfully and hopefully see a couple of people come to Christ. Sounds quite nice actually… But I feel like I took the red pill and now I know too much to ever go back

Our community must be shaped by mission. It is not our preferences or ways of doing things that are considered firstly, but those who we are trying to reach. Our community life and community rhythms must be shaped around the life and rhythms of those we are trying to connect with. It may be that Sunday morning is a terrible time to connect with your community? So why then do we persist on Sunday as the only day that the church can meet…

What if Monday night was the best time to get together as a community… would you really give up Survivor? What if the time that you could best connect with the people you are trying to reach is not a convenient time for you… would you do it anyway? If the answer is no, then who is your church community really for anyway? You and your tribe? Or those who are lost, broken and without hope in the world? Seems like Jesus told a few stories about those who were lost… But then he did get nailed for it, so probably not the best plan right?

You may also want to read part one, part two and part three of these ramblings.

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6 thoughts on “It seems like a lifetime ago… part four

  1. Stephen

    Ok so here’s a genuine question from me, Mr traditional pastor in a traditional model church:
    How do you do the type of church you’re doing without making the rest of us feel like we don’t have genuine, intentional community in our churches? Or that we aren’t primarily seeking to shape what we do around mission? I’m not trying to be facetious here but it’s hard not to feel (after reading this) that I’m copping out on community and mission because I’ve got a sunday-service centric model.

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    1. John Post author

      Tried to read it again to understand exactly what makes you feel like I am suggesting you are copping out. There are a whole lot of questions and “ifs” for it to be too prescriptive surely. Still not sure perhaps you could elaborate a bit? But here are a few thoughts for now:

      1) If these posts cause people to ask those question I will be delighted. And far from being prescriptive with the answers I am happy to leave the answers to context and the Holy Spirit (reverse order of course)

      2) I am surprised to hear you describe your model as sunday-service centric? I would have described you as a lot more holistic than that? I would question that kind of self-designation though? Surely church as identity is far more than Sunday service? The issue of course not being Sunday service but a proper missional identity whenever the church chooses to meet?

      3) Do you read my questions in the last paragraph as rhetorical or as genuine dialogical questions that we need to ask of ourselves and our community? Surely you would agree that these are good questions to ask? If the answers to these questions lead you to a missional-communal understanding of Sunday being the most effective way to engage your community then there is no issue. But IF the answers to these questions lead you to conclude that Sunday is not the most effective time to engage with your community then surely you would agree that we ought to consider when we ought to gather.

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      1. John Post author

        Stephen- no worries. I am sure you have seen me in more than my fair share of grumpy moods too. Thankfully his grace is sufficient! But I do struggle to write with both a conviction for what we are doing and a humility to know that what God is doing is so much bigger and wider than my convictions, so your comment was a good time for reflection for me anyway. Thanks

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  2. Carrie Hickman

    Firstly, John I do read your blog and now I am actually going to comment.
    Having been in a “traditional” church setting for many years and doing all the “programme” stuff for a long time I know that it works for many people but I also see that it doesn’t work for others. Paul says that we should be all things for all men and I gotta say that for the space I am in now and the people that I have relationships with bringing them into this type of community is so much easier that taking them to a church building. So to Stephen, I don’t think that one is better than the other I think that different people respond to different things and we need to be all things for all people. My “drug addict” friends would never come with me to “traditional” church but they all love going to the Scheepers home and hanging out and I’ve been able to feel really comfortable inviting them to something different. We reach different types of people by doing different types of things, some people like rock music and others like opera both need talent and are technically good but I’m just a rock music person and while I can appreciate the musicianship behind opera I’m still gonna listen to rock instead (if that makes any sense) There is probably tons of allegorical issues here but yea those are my thoughts. At the end of the day, while in the past 2 years I refuse to step into “traditional” church for personal reasons I’ve been able to connect to a bunch of Christians who love God and have helped me find my way again. So thanks for doing what you doing in your very “untraditional” way. Love you.

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  3. Eric

    Hello John
    Welcome to normal Christian life. Not to fussed about the past as long as the present has Jesus as the center,the edges and the outside. I don’t know you or about you just keep taking life by force and not system.

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