Friday, July 02, 2010

More Church Notes

Yesterday's post prompted a reader (the reader?) to ask, well, what kind of church would you really like? Good question. In order of importance (more or less):

1) The preaching of Christ/the Gospel and its application to everyday life. Preaching that helps us understand our place in the redemptive purposes of God for our neighborhood, circle of friends, workplace, etc.

2) Prayer . . . frequent, natural, and friendly (as opposed to frequent oratorical grandstanding).

3) Mostly quiet. Quit with the rock concert every Sunday morning. When the community is at worship, you hear lots of voices raised, not much amped up strumming by the cool cats on stage.
a) Nix the stage.
4) Not a place, a people. Therefore, probably no permanent building. [Ah, but the people . . . they're clearly being built together into a spiritual house.]

5) In the neighborhood. Or at least in the town in which I live. Preferably, the wife and I can ride our bikes there in the summertime. [Therefore, it shouldn't be at the top of a steep hill.]

6) No implicit dress-code.

7) Chirstianese is kept to a minimum, and resorted to only with accompanying air-quotes, indicating you know it sounds rather silly. [Just kidding about the air-quotes!]

8) Membership? Don't get me started.


Nate said...

Amen on every point...and "frequent oratorical grandstanding" gaaahhh! That's the best term I've heard yet for that stuff!


Bob said...

The acronym is perfectly appropriate--F.O.G."

Erin Hope said...

hehe. : )

I like the thoughts. maybe you've been over this before, did things get so complicated again? I mean churches in general? It just seems like it should be so simple. The way church is set up most places is just weird to me now... It just feels like, well, a lot of running around and silly things that amount to just that. doesn't feel too much like Jesus.

Bob said...

A group of friends get together. They talk. They sing. They pray. Pretty soon the group gets too big for the parlor, so they rent a hall. People start getting that aren't-we-something mentality, and they name their growing group and file for tax-exempt status. Now they have plans and goals--vision!--and they need leaders. A permanent building with a great big proud sign. National and international affiliations. Signature worship styles leading to perhaps their own line of worship CDs. The tower gets higher and prettier. Maintaining it--and growing it--becomes a total focus of the resume-conscious leadership. Meanwhile, the simple folk wander away, looking for a small group of friends kicking back on somebody's front porch, talking about Jesus.

Nate said...

Hmmmm...that doesn't sound anything like the Tower of Babel, does it?

Erin Hope said...

It's so sad, isn't it? ...and then you've got people up in arms (sometimes rightfully so)....and I guess sometimes now all the discussions get so sad and so tiring to me because it seems like everyone's so busy talking and arguing about what it should and shouldn't be (don't get me wrong, it's really valid at certain times) that that is all they're worried about. Instead of being 'single-minded' in what they are pursing. And yeah, that description of church growth sounds pretty accurate.

and nate, yep. pretty sure humanity is addicted to pressing the repeat button.

any thoughts on being truthful, and simple but not getting sucked into the mass of overly-critical (only cause it's unproductive) people out there? it seems like it only leads to more pride and self-righteousness.....

Bob said...

Yes, that is definitely a problem. Sometimes there needs to be a critique, for sure, but we can't live in that. We've got to find ways to express (and also live) the positive alternative. Michael Spencer in "Mere Churchianity" does that well. Viola in "Jesus Manifesto" has really put his finger on the alternative, and it is a robust and full-bodied vision of the living and active Lord Jesus. But perhaps we have to accept that such a "community" may often be somewhat transient, edgy, and uncomfortable with pop-culture Christianity.

Anonymous said...

it was a travel day today, lots of flying.

i am glad to see this...

1) sounds good.
2) wonderful
3) yes and
a) yes!
4) totally agree.
5) bike riding distance, cool.
maybe a few small hills.
6) yep!
7) good.
8) :-) gotcha.

ya know, i can understand every thing you have said here, and i agree with it all.

it sounds very much like a church group that i would like to be a part of.

Nate said...


I think the beginning to the answer to your question about being truthful without being overly critical is the line between raw authenticity and manipulative tactics. You can't change people, and once you realize this, you're approach what you're dissatisfied with has the ego deflated a bit, and

I think it's also important to recognize embodiment, not just verbal critique, is necessary. If I'm so "different" in my thinking, it's probably because I have a different paradigm or angle. That should be overflowing somehow. It should make itself known.

What irks me is not so much criticism, but bad criticism. When there's a lot of problems, there's bound to be a lot of folks like Job's friends blowing smoke by "solutionizing" rather than fascinating with Jesus and letting that produce the criticism, the embodiment, or whatever is necessary. When you're having trouble with something, "death by advice" is a very real danger.

Erin Hope said...

I think you really hit it on the embodiment part. There's an awful lot of words flying around out there....and I guess I'm just wondering what others think about the self-righteous aspect of it verses the humble follower of Jesus aspect. ..... some people spend so much time and breath on trying to declare everything else false....instead of just living in what is the truth....

anyway. probably way off the original topic... it made me think though :)

Erin Hope said...

p.s. bob- I really hope you find somewhere like what you described... sounds great. :)

Milton Stanley said...

Sounds to me like you're looking for Fredonia Church of Christ near Manchester, Tennessee (except for #5). Do you have any a cappella Churches of Christ where you live?

Bob said...

You know what? There is one nearby (I think). I should look into that! Thanks for the tip.