Sunday, May 21, 2006

city church

Len Hjalmarson over at next reformation blogs about talking
... about Jesus, the gospel, the church and the kingdom.
Len's post resonates with a number of things I have been thinking about.
I saw more clearly that one of the large problems with church as we have known it is that identity easily becomes invested in the system itself. We became less clear about who we were and what we were called to do.. more invested in personalities and less invested in Jesus.. less likely to follow Jesus and more likely to follow the crowd. We became tied to structures, place, buildings and programs, and invested in those things more than in the purposes they served. When church is person, place or event it is a house built on the sand. How odd that idolatry can lie hidden in our very pursuit of God.

On the other hand, discovering who God has made us to be and becoming more intentional in pursuit of the kingdom and living for Jesus day by day is an incredible journey. It requires faith and risk, and it takes more discipline to be a disciple apart from the crowd than within it. This is a journey to the heartland, and like all true journeys it is intensely personal. But once we attain it we are founded on something much more secure than social structures or religious practices, and it is the only sure foundation for a free association and intentional belonging.
Len is right in referencing our tie to structures, place, buildings and programs - all things that are designed to help us in what God calls us to - disciple makeing - but which too easily, takes over from that calling.
Is there one church in a city, or many churches? I find myself thinking that there is really only one church in a city, with many expressions. I don’t think we attempt to organize this reality.. but we can partner with God in discovering it. Any attempt to organize it.. appoint an apostolic head, for example.. is wrong and dangerous. But organization is not the same as intention.

It might help to quit calling various local gatherings “church of Christ” or “First Baptist church” and start thinking about them as nodes in a larger network.. partial expressions of a single invisible reality. They are 2d pieces of the larger 3d hologram. If we were able to make that mental shift, I wonder how it would affect our thinking about missional structures and parachurch structures?
One of the things that City Watch here in KW is starting to think and live out, is seeing the church in the city as one and the churches as cells.

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