So here are some of my thoughts and dreams.
- A Church that is truly made up of friends. A church that is community. Acts 2:42-47 says:
42They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. 44All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. 46Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Church is not a place where we go once a week; it is truly a gathered community who share life together. When I was still with Community of Grace, we didn't do that as much. I had a sense of wanting to pray together more. I would want a place where we gather some time other than Sunday for prayer and/or mission. Lake Harriet Christian Church models this to some extent. The Associate Minister has a prayer ministry that meets every Wednesday for prayer and song. She has helped foster community through this simple act on a weekly basis.
In the future, when I meet people, I don't want to invite them to church, meaning come once a week to see someone in a "dress." I want to be in relationship with them and help them see Jesus and be Jesus to them.
I've begun reading the Emergent Manifesto of Hope. Tony Jones starts it off by talking about how the early leaders of the Emerging Church were at basis friends and how that is a model for the church. That's what I want for this church-not to be a country club, but a true fellowship of people.
- A place where the pastor does mission with the congregation not for them. Recently, I interviewed for a pastoral position at a small congregation. I was very interested in the congregation. More than once, they said they wanted someone that could grow the church. I said that I wanted to be somewhere where I could do minsitry with the congregation. I ended up not getting the position. I don't know why, but I do wonder if how I viewed mission was different from what the search committee wanted. I believe pastors should be involved in mission and evangelism. If they are doing that, they aren't doint their job. But the problem is the pastor becomes the paid evangelist or community organizer that does all the work for the congregation. That's not what we read in the book of Acts or how Jesus schooled his disciples. The problem is that when you get the pastor doing all the heavy lifting, then the pastor gets worn out and bitter at the congregation and the congregation gets mad that the pastor hasn't brought more people to the church. I think that pastors these days need to be more teachers than CEOs who train the congregation to be leaders and provide them with resources. If someone expects to come to a this church and have the pastor do everything, then they have come to the wrong church. I will say it again, church is about community, it isn't a performance.
- Worship would be vital to the congregation (and sometimes the pastor will preach). The church would be a place where worship is a vital part of the life of the church, but not central. In most churches, all of the energy focuses on one time, the Sunday worship service. Everything else is ancillary. I think in this age, we have to see the church as a web, where worship is one point in the life-not the only one or the main one. Some people will only come to a small group or mission project. Some will only come to a Bible Study that meets in a bar or coffeehouse. We need to respect how people come to meet Christ and not try to shoehorn them into one method.
That said, worship is an important aspect in the life the church since it is where we come together to give thanks to God. I want to worship that allows God to speak in many ways; through the preaching of the Word, the breaking of the Bread and the singing of the songs. I want to see more music, more times for contemplative worship and so on. Worship can't been the soley way the church expresses itself, but it still needs to do it well. To see how this is done well see Church of the Apostles.
There is more that I want to share, but that's all for now. More later...