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November 01, 2006

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Wow. Great post DP.

FDR,
Thanks. For some reason, this was a difficult topic for me to articulate. I really appreciate the encouragement!

Blessings,

Chris

Good photo choice too.

I think you hit the nail on the head with the contrast between self-serving and hospitality. Very Trinitarian. The Trinity are not about exalting their own Personal Selves (dang, tough to find pronouns for that idea!), but invite each other in, and invite humanity in, to the glory of the reality of love, which flows outward. I think this is the major challenge of consumerism to the church.

Thanks Chris.
Dana

Awesome, awesome post. I couldn't agree more and it's right on target.

You do realize, though, that people will kick and scream at this because "everyone has a right to worship in their own way".

Makes me wanna puke.

Sorry.

Dana,

I loved how you put this:

"The Trinity are not about exalting their own Personal Selves..., but invite each other in, and invite humanity in, to the glory of the reality of love, which flows outward."

Oh, that we would reflect this more!

Blessings,

Chris

Johan,

Thanks for the encouraging feedback!

"You do realize, though, that people will kick and scream at this because "everyone has a right to worship in their own way"."

Sure do. I fully expect there will be those who strongly disagree with my assertions here.

Thanks again for sharing.

Blessings,

Chris

Great article Chris. I think itis also important to understand the roots of this radical egalitarian Protestantism. After the Reformation Europe was embroiled in religious wars throughout much of the 17th century. This ad to eventually equalize by reducing peity to a personal choice. Having overthrown the central authority (during the Reformation)of the Church the only adjucator of truth is the subjective "I". And this nation was founded on the very idea that one is free to chose ones one form of worship. As protestant denominations multiplied in the US it required of us a certain tolerance of other religious perspectives and further subjectivised faith. In short, the denominationalism that became rampant in the Protestant church necessitated religious tolerance and subjectivism. This "problem" was borne, imho, in the Church. The question for us now is, "how do we work out the unity of the Church and the absolute-ness of truth within a denominationalist culture that, by its very nature, undermines the Church's own unity?"

To put it another way - The modern american context is rife with "competing truth claims", and even more so now with the advent of neopaganism. And because the church is not in unity, because there are various groups always seeking to remake, redefine and reconfigure the faith I think many people feel either like dropping out alltogether or they are forced to look for the most authentic, stable and confident repressentation of truth. Which is, I think, one reason why people are returning to the Roman and Orthodox traditions. These de-throne the subjective individual as the adjucator of faith and truth and return this authority to the wider Church. This is one of the reasons why I have always advocated a Vincentian (St Vincent of Lerins - "The Commonitorium") formulation of "what has always, everywhere and at all times been believed".

"The Body of Christ is marvelously diverse, gifted, and designed to journey through life and faith together, yet increasing numbers of professing Christians prefer living apart from communities of faith. Perhaps it seems easier to live free from the responsibility and accountability that comes with being part of a church family, but that kind of autonomy is achieved at too great a price. .

Chris. You don't believe that is the only reason some folk have abandoned the IC do you? There is a radical difference between being part of a genuine faith community and being part of a church family.

Many of the points in Detoxing from Church by Jason Zahariades are still extremely valid, especially the first 7 bullet points under 'addiction to church'.

* I need to worship. So I go to my local church, which, if it’s cutting-edge, has a worship pastor on staff that prepares an inspiring "worship experience" for me on a weekly basis. One local church I know advertises its worship services on its marquee, "We worship five times, three ways, one God." (Hello! Is it me or does that just sound wrong?)

* I also need to fellowship with my fellow Christians. So I go to my local church to attend a programmed version of community that provides a surface-level contact with people around some form of activity at my convenience. If I need more fellowship, I go to a small group, usually focused on the dynamic personality of the small group leader or on the subject matter I feel I need to better my life. But again, this is at my convenience and fairly optional if my schedule becomes too demanding.

* I need discipleship and Christian growth. So I go to my local church to attend Sunday services, Bible studies and small groups where someone opens the Bible and tells me what it says and how it should apply to my life. I also have the option of learning "practical" topics such as how to be a good spouse, parent, employee, leader, steward, etc.

* I need to serve. So I go to my local church and participate in a program where I use my time and skills in a fairly convenient manner to help others. For the most part, it’s fairly safe. And if I'm a volunteer, my participation is completely based on my schedule.

* I need to be engaged in mission. So I go to my local church to connect to their evangelistic ministry and their missions program. Every so often I might volunteer to hand out sodas or serve coffee in a convenient and semi-relational form of "reaching people" for Christ. I might also give money to local missionaries the church supports and maybe participate in a weekend mission trip.

* I need a children's program to educate my kids. So I go to my local church to place my children in the care of Sunday school teachers and youth pastors who will provide the spiritual and moral foundation for their Christian growth via an age-relevant program.

* I need purpose for my life. So I go to my local church, hoping to find a leader with a vision big enough to inspire me. Then I sacrifice my time, energy, and money to become involved in the leader’s vision so I can build something big for God with him. New programs. New buildings. New projects. New groups. New services. New converts. New church plants. New missions. More and more and more vision to give my life a reason to exist.

Also, according to A Churchless Faith many are leaving the IC to find REAl fellowship.


LYB

Seraphim

Perhaps it seems easier to live free from the responsibility and accountability that comes with being part of a church family,

I don't think so. I've found not 'finding' a faith community that I can connect with and be mentored by very difficult. I've been part of several, and they never end well.

What do you do as a christian when you ask to be mentored and the answer is 'No.' because folk are either un-interested, don't have the time (or won't make the time) or just don't think its necessary?

Sometimes I want to just join a community and ignore my conscience and go along to get along....

"The early Yahwistic community was committed to the equality of its members, and indeed we can recognize a persistent egalitarian impulse influencing the laws and institutions of early Israel.

this 'quote' misses something clearly revealed in the gospels and also in our day. Back 'then' there were entire groups of people who were shunned and not allowed in the synagogue. Who? Just look at those Jesus constantly reached out to.

today? there are groups of people not welcome in our fellowships too. Who?

often the poor. the not well dressed.

how racially diverse are most congregations? why not?

what would the reaction be if two men came into church holding hands? would they get to see the love of Christ before they 'felt' the judgement of Christians?

Seraphim,

You asked: "Chris. You don't believe that is the only reason some folk have abandoned the IC do you? "

Not at all, and I've written a good deal about it over the years.

"Also, according to A Churchless Faith many are leaving the IC to find REAl fellowship."

That's true. But, Seraphim, I reject the notion that all churches are caustic, misled, and sick. In fact, in many cases (although far from all cases), I suspect that playing the "church is unhealthy for me" card is a convenient "license" to do whatever the blankety-blank we want to do.

"What do you do as a christian when you ask to be mentored and the answer is 'No.' because folk are either un-interested, don't have the time (or won't make the time) or just don't think its necessary?"

As a shepherd in Christ's body, it makes me sick to hear this -- and sadly, it happens a lot. So what should you do?
Ummm... move to the high desert of California? :D

Peace,

Chris

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