Thursday, March 08, 2007

When 'Church' gets in the way

One of the many roles in my life at the moment is working for the Frankston Church of Christ helping to develop New Faith Communities.

Basically the idea behind that is that we as a church are a multi-congregational church, with many congregations/faith communities/churches all as a part of the Church.

So each one is distinct in its style-though a few are fairly similar, and are considered in their own right to be church. Some are in the church building, most aren't, and the potential new ones we're looking at aren't either. But one of the ideas behind each being their own church is that there isn't this expectation that all the little missions and ministries are all well and good, but at the end of the day, everybody has to come back to church on a Sunday.

But more on that another day.

So recently I was working with somebody who was looking at making the small group they were leading a Faith Community. After chatting to them, I realised that the group was already performing the functions of a church. They were focussed on mission, active in prayer, getting stuck into the Bible, cared for each other, and had Communion. This was church, just by another name.

So we chatted a fair bit about what them seeing themselves as a faith community might mean, and it now appears it's not a path they want to go down. I was really keen on working with the group, working through their understandings/ideas about church, and encouraging them to see that church doesn't have to be in a building and have all the trappings most people associate with church.

But the thing was, for them, seeing what they wee doing as church was just too much of a head trip. They had been so incultured to think that church was this, this and this, that they couldn't imagine it any other way. Now normally I love being able to break down these ideas, but these guys just weren't interested, being a church was too hard, and they didn't want a bar of it.

This has set off a lot of thoughts for me, the first being that if the title church gets in the way, then ditch it. I love redeeming the word church, reshaping and refashioning it into less of what we think, and more of what the Bible was all about, but if the word is getting too much in the way, then perhaps its not worth it. I'm not sold on these thoughts either, just what I'm thinking at the moment.

The main thing is that a group performs the functions of a healthy church, not necessarily what you call it.

2 comments:

Captain Best said...

I agree lots. I think what you've got going with all your faith communities is very cool, but at the same time, I know what you're saying about the label of "church". Although it is a label that can be helpful for some people. Just not for others. Not for most, probably.

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