Friday, August 18, 2006

What Defines Us?

Michael Frost opens the twelfth chapter of his book, Exiles, with the following paragraph.

"In the work that I do around the world with missional churches I am regularly asked about how exiles should worship. Even after I've told about the exciting experience of creating communitas, fashioning missional communities, eating together, living compassionately, serving the poor, and honoring our work as sacred activity, someone still wants to know what a missional church worship service would look like. In fact, barely a week goes by when someone doesn't contact me and ask to come and 'check out' our community, smallboatbigsea. This request is always followed by the next question: 'What day and time do you meet?' What assumption lies behind such a request? Answer: that we are primarily defined by a weekly meeting, and that if you attend that meeting, you can see all you need to see to get an understanding of our community."

That last sentence, ..."we are primarily defined by a weekly meeting, and that if you attend that meeting, you can see all you need to see to get an understanding of our community", speaks volumes about western Christianity.
It becomes quite obvious that western Christianity is very shallow when the primary focus is on a weekly "church service." It reveals an almost total lack of understanding concerning biblical community. That lack of understanding reveals the lack of biblical community. The church has little or nothing to offer to a world that is starving for true community.
Frost goes on to say that any "genuinely missional community operates at multiple levels and different times, as any organic, dynamic web of relationships would." He then poses these two questions: "Why can't we think of churching together as a web of relationships? Why are we obsessed with the singular event rather than seeking the rythm of a community churching together?"

Although I agree 110% with the point being made, several rather "together" communities I am familiar with that still have a corporate celebration gathering every week or only monthly do so in order to: 1. maintain a sense of being "in something" bigger than "our own house groups". 2. An occasion to hear mobile ministry (apostolic or other?)in the area. 3. Provide an opportunity to share what's happening among other home gatherings. 4. To allow the release of more mature ministries among a larger gathering and make a larger pool of resources available. 5 Allow the body to relate in their jointed relationships.(The Body metaphor).

It would even be better to have larger city wide gatherings, which would help dilute the individualistic separation and sectarianism that plagues traditional "churches".(1 Cor 1)

I know that it was prayer that brought about the Lord healing my cancer. I discovered that somewhere over 3000 Christians were praying for me. I do not know if it was just one who touched Jesus' garment, or the result of a lot of petitions. The Kingdom must not be allowed to be divided into isolated self-interested groups even though they outwardly serve the outside community. Lessons from monasticism and American groups such as the Amish can give much insight here.
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