Monday, April 25, 2005

Yesterday was a good day 'round here . . . but we didn't happen to "go to" church. Michelle and I each spent time with people we share faith with, but we did so in a different context than a gathering of people who follow Jesus who do their gathering for the specific purpose of worshipping together. It's actually only the second Sunday since we moved here that I wasn't at such a gathering. That's o.k.

But what we did yesterday may have been a step toward something that we've sort of been kicking around a little bit lately. Ever since we began our church/theological shift, or deconstruction, or whatever, we have been influenced by and have come to admire the ideals of the house/simple/organic church scene. And yet it's been a difficult one for us to fully embrace. I won't go into all the things we love vs. all the things we love less about our fellow followers who organize in that way. I'll just say that on a pragmatic level, something hasn't clicked with us, and that o.k. The other side of the coin is that we have had increasingly greater difficulty embracing more commonly organized churches - the kinds you see who meet in large buildings that they own and the kinds you see who rent space for their gatherings (schools, community centers, coffee shops, etc.). I won't go into all the things we love vs. all the things we love less about our fellow followers who organize in that way either. I'll leave it at this - there are things about both streams (as well as some of the hybrids of the two we've seen) that we identify with, but we have trouble embracing either form at this point.

The unstated "rules" seem to be that a legitimate follower of Jesus needs to commit to one of those streams in order to be dialed into true community. I understand the value of those rules, but something still doesn't click. It may be that we have become the kinds of "consumers" of church that we've railed against for the past few years - the kind that go shopping for the best worship or the best teaching or the most fragrant incense or the best coffee or the best pot lucks. I don't think so, but I'm willing to be challenged in that way.

So what we've begun experimenting with is the thought that maybe we could participate in both streams without formalizing a commitment to either. Here's what that might look like: we develop a weekly or bi-weekly gathering of followers and friends who just hang out and have dinner together. This gathering would be intentional in the areas of encouragement and sharing life stories, and unintentional, but welcoming in the areas of prayer, common reading and/or study of scripture, and communion. Meanwhile, we also regularly participate in the gatherings of a church or churches for the specific purpose of prayer, learning, and giving. Practically speaking, I tend to think that we'd end up being more personally committed to the people in the "dinner club" than the church/churches we attend, but that's neither here nor there to me right now. Some of fellow diners might be more comfortable formalizing their commitment to a regular church, and some might not even bothering attending at all. Both sets of friends would be encouraged to worship God and learn from him in all aspects of life.

Am I talking about planting a church without planting a church? Maybe, maybe not. Again, just some thoughts we're kicking around. I'm open to discussion of the value and problem areas of this approach. Shoot me an e-mail or comment if you care.

posted by Steve at 5:10 AM
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I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
e-mail me:

seattle spots

victrola coffee
zoka coffee
university of washington
church of the apostles
quest church
sanctuary church
shoreline vineyard

sites i visit

off the map
nt wright

a few of the blogs in the feedreader

jason evans
joe boyd
kevin rains
alan creech
chris marshall
bill bean
eugene cho
jordon cooper
dwight friesen
john chandler
amy palmer
ryan bolger
rudy carrasco
ryan sharp
sings in the sunshine
rick bennett
scot mcknight
karen ward
alan hirsch
dan kimball
petey crowder

i'm reading it

colossians remixed
africa unchained

i finished reading it - 2007

generation me
jesus and the restoration of israel
god's continent
globalizing theology
gustavo gutierrez: essential writings
jesus and the eyewitnesses
garlands of grace
twenty poems to nourish your soul
the black swan
dancing in the streets
made to stick
signs in contemporary culture
hit the bullseye
the politics of jesus
readings in christian ethics
toward old testament ethics
the kite runner
principles of conduct
velvet elvis
the irresistable revolution
they like jesus, but not the church
the great omission
charisma: the gift of grace, and how it has been taken from us
the starfish and the spider
a perfect mess
the world cafe
the new faces of christianity
leaving church
journeying in faith
the creed
transforming mission
metaphors we live by
foolishness to the greeks
personal knowledge

states i've spent time: 2007

british columbia
oh yeah, denmark, too

i wrote it

managing conflict in the 'new world'
music review: over the rhine
film review: bonhoeffer
music review: fighting jacks
film review: the passion of the christ
how reality tv changes lives
the best tv article you've ever read
corks & caps: a wine lover's story of change
america's idols
random, disorganized thoughts about life after the katrina disaster
missional . . . plain and simple
on becoming post-gnostic

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