Saturday, May 24, 2008

embody it and they will be...coming and going in God

Missional ecclesiology is centered first and foremost in the nature of God. Churches attempt at surviving causes great anxiety and begins the anxious work at operational levels of function and organization. This is most notably seen through the adapted idea 'build it and they will come.' Many have the idea that if you create space, as if the beginning point is void of space, it will be filled, eventually. And in some sense I suppose it might. But the real question for us to wonder is what is it that is being built? Who's doing the building? Who's being built?

One of the challenges with the modern church, among other great gifts this expression has been, is that in many ways it sees itself as the builder, the operational manager making space for others to occupy. But again, first and foremost, it is the very nature of God that occupies the space already, at the center and who builds space for us. All for the sake of our own occupancy, IN GOD! It is built 'for me', space created 'for me' so I can both be affirmed in who I am as a child of God and challenged to 'change my mind' about things that aren't also IN partnership with GOD. This IN GOD stuff, or as Paul talks about it, 'in Christ', is what is being built. God's very essence of life lived out IN us as we gather together.

I'm convinced that healthy expressions of church, no matter what label or designation you want to give, will at their best be present to the One who is present to us. These communities will embody the very notion that God holds us so closely, dearly, intimately and tenderly, that by the very encounter and experience IN GOD, we will be affirmed and changed within. Whether its through a verbal confession or an intuitive 'yes, God is here, and I'm a part of God's life. Now breathe through me.'

There is a challenge we face in the life of being church between the tension of gathering and scattering as God's people. The way we attend to the relationship between these two the better off we will be in our efforts at 'being' the very people God intends us to be. It is not just in the gathering, nor in the scattering, but in the very dynamism occurring between the two. So we need to wonder and explore together, why do we gather? What do we do when we gather and why? And what does that allow us to do differently (in our scattering) than if we never gathered at all? I believe how well we attend to the very nature/being of who we are IN GOD and in conjunction with these thoughts it will appropriately and helpfully place us in the direction of embodying the way of Christ in the world. It is not an anxious way, but a peaceful one, at least in some way because God is the one who holds all of us and we, in our part, model a life of being held more than a life of holding, whether it be doctrinal, denominational or whatever.

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