Sunday, June 17, 2007

cota worship and other thoughts

Worship is at 5 p.m. every Saturday evening. COTA is gifted with wonderful musicians who understand the liturgy and incorpate the ancient elements of it in fresh, creative and innovative ways. There were around 70 people in attendance many of whom were in their 20's. Although getting to know them last night I have learned that most of them are disenfranchized Christians in the sense that they no longer were able to find a home within the conservative/fundamentalist churches from which they were raised. Last night hanging out at a pub one of them mentioned that there really aren't too many unchurched who are participating. However, following the worship I meet a young 20 something guy who did not grow up in any faith tradition and was open to exploring. He was invited by a friend who is a member at COTA.

It seems to me that there are couple things going on here that are very helpful and beneficial for the church and yet there are also shared challenges very similar to what I see all churches struggling with too. Some helpful things include providing a space where those on the margins of faith and Christianity can stay connected through the openess to question and wonder and at the same time to grow in deep and meaningful ways through rich and ancient practices of faith. It is clear from many with whom I spoke that the ancient practice of liturgy holds an engaging sense of meaningful encounter with God, especially the eucharist.

So simultaneously to providing space for those who are interested in these alternative and yet faithful ways of being church and followers of Jesus there is also the role of shaping a new attitude within the broader culture of what it means to be Christian. That is, the mission of the church is functioning as redefining in positive ways who the church can be for and with the community as an extension and expression of God to the world. The role of course is very important and is a lifelong and continual process that they as many churches will be faced with.

Finally, the challenge is this, where are all those who are unchurched and why are they not coming to participate? My personal answer to this question has to do with the fact that conversion is a process that happens over the course of years and decades. The reality I think is that COTA is still, even after only 4 years, establishing themselves by earning the right to be heard by those who have dismissed the church and in no way view it as a viable option for growing in knowledge of God or engaging in a committed community intentionally around Jesus Christ. These are the challenges that all of us are faced with as we commit ourselves to living the way of Jesus even as we ourselves are caught up in the promises and warnings of God too.

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