Monday, March 5, 2007

finally, church for the (dis)organized!

Just over a week ago I wrote a proposal for a new emerging community that was submitted to the synod council. I was proud and greatly appreciative for their openness and desire for experimenting with new church communities. Along the way it was mentioned that I should put together a three year plan...a modern paradigm and question being imposed on a different kind of community. I don't know what the Spirit's going to be doing in three years, one year, a month, one week or even tomorrow for that matter. What I do know is that there is some excitement and energy around some ideas I've shared with those who desire to belong to a new kind of church. It's hard to know really what will become of it because of the organic nature of those who will be gathered. Hopefully we will become some aspect of the 'work of the people' embodied in an ethos of faith. The specifics are difficult to determine as the Spirit works through people who are engaging in habits of faith, many hopefully for the first time, and yet who, over time, will mature with each other, the Spirit, and in their more fully engaged participation in the broader community. This lends a particular uncertainty to the future...which in some ways is scary and in many ways helpless which, of course, forces a leaning further into God.

Listen to this scenario of a gathering from the ikon community that Peter Rollins is grooming. The quote comes from his CD jacket describing a typical gathering.

"Picture the pint glass sitting half empty. Picture a dingy bar in Belfast. Picture the tables filling with people. Drink and conversation are flowing. A DJ nods to the mellow beats he is spinning. A screen displays a confusing street scene. A slim figure walks to the microphone. He goes to speak but is interrupted by late arrivals banging through the door. He waits. He surfs the chaos and uncertainty. Then he speaks, quietly, welcoming everyone to Ikon. Everyone: Believers, unbelievers, doubters, searchers, heretics and holy. The barman nods in understanding at the mention of God. This is the Menagerie Bar after all. Music kicks in. A scene from Pulp Fiction hits the screen. The fruit machine bleeps and burps along to the liturgy that is spoken. A drunken heckler shouts for more music and less God. Someone sings about the felt absence of God, which confuses the heckler. A poem is offered into the crowd. Red wine is poured into an ornate glass long after it is full. A red stain grows on the white table cloth. Images of excess or abundance? Of foolishness or heaven? Welcome to the soundtrack of Ikon."

The modern church will experience the "church-beyond" as incredibly (dis)organized. The walls coming down from the constraints of the bricks and mortar type-church will become a metaphor for even greater walls 'come a tumblin' down.' This church in it's fluidity becomes aware of God's Spirit floating in and over against culture, holding together those as agents for change, those opposed to it and many in need of it. The (dis)organized church causes us to listen, and use our senses, differently. The experience can be compared to the 4'33'' piano work of avant-garde composer John Cage who shifts the performance from the instrument on stage to the instruments in and among the audience members. The audience ceases to exist as all become masterfully a part of the grand performance! The modern church, all the while, will more than likely experience such a liturgy as a (dis)integration and amputation from The Body rather than a re-formation of and re-connection to it.

(dis) - pref.
1. Not:
2. Absence of, opposite of
3. Undo; do the opposite of
4. Deprive of; remove

organ< [origin: bef. 1000; ME musical instrument, pipe organ, organ of the body, tool (organum mechanical device, instrument) organon implement, tool, bodily organ, musical instrument, akin to ergon work]


Lutheran Zephyr said...

I promise not to perpetually pester, but . . . surely that pub you describe has a business plan (expenses, revenue, rent or mortgage to pay, advertising, staffing, etc.).

Even though it has four letters, "plan" is not a proverbial "four letter word." (Surely those emergent authors you read plan their books and speaking tours, for example. Heck, books and speaking tours - how modern and capitalist of them!!!) Ministry can happen within the guide or shape of a plan. I'm sure others more eloquent than I have discussed the ways in which plans can be holy and faithful guides and disciplines, not simply rigid or restricting rules.

I fear a church without plans can become particularly susceptible to the whims of the pastor who is accountable only to a "Spirit" that, conveniently enough, only she and her close cadre of friends can really discern. If nothing else, a plan and accountability to the wider church serves as a discipline, preventing us from rooting our efforts solely on our own individual desires, interests, and whims.

Tim said...

The chief purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The only way that we can fulfill that divine purpose is to meet Jesus as our God and Savior.

The church of Christ is the body of Christ bringing God glory, worshipping Him, loving Him, serving Him and spreading the gospel.

Do you agree with that definition?

If you don't, my comments are worthless, as they will fall on deaf ears.

If you do, you'll see that the church must be a community of people who are united to pursue the above definition. Can you do that within the chaos of spiritually dead people living a hopeless existance, blindly searching for everything except a Holy God who can set them free?

However, if you see yourself as a missionary using the pub as a method for starting a church, your idea sounds great. Just don't forget that the only thing that changes hearts is the word of God, empowered by His Spirit.

Tim said...

1 Corinthians 9:16-23
Without sinning against God's character and moral laws, we strive to develop relationships with people of all walks of life.

Why do we become available to all people? To do what we cannot help but do: spread the gospel.