I always find it discouraging that my negative posts always seem to get the most attention. People seem to be drawn to arguing, and critiquing and critiquing critiques. The most read posts on my blog are both where I call out Christian leaders for their very public statements letter to pastor mark and was very angry with pastor chuck.
Yet in some of my best posts I talk about wonderful people who have inspired me, and do inspire me pastor buddy or ray barbee
I share video bible studies, talk about our house church, all kinds of things. But the negative stuff gets heard, it gets passed around, mainly because people wish someone would say something about all the crap they see. They are happy that it is not just them. Others, well just enjoy stirring up some shit.
But today, I thought I might share a little bit about ways forward. How have we tried to live an alternative?
We work hard to define church as our community not as gatherings.
When we do gather everyone shares. Everyone cooks for the group at one time or another. We occasionally meet in other houses, or in a park. Everyone takes a turn at doing communion, leading confession, or prayer, or worship (almost never singing but usually interactive in a different way). Everyone shares during a discussion, and everyone has an opportunity to lead the discussions as well.
We pay nobody, so all the money that is given gets spent on neighborhood needs, using a relational model. If $50 or less is needed to help someone you personally know, you need one person in the community to agree that it is a need we should meet and the money is doled out. If it is above that amount we put it to a vote, and we use consent rather than consensus, (I will explain later)
We recognize that our calling is not to build a bigger community, but rather give birth to a network of small communities. We support, and help new communities start.
The use of consent is slightly different from consensus. We try to reach consensus, which we have in almost every occasion, but if we can't we ask the minority group to allow us to continue in the direction the majority has decided and we will review it in an appropriate amount of time. If they are adamant about saying no, then we wait. We would rather go together than divide over being right.
We put regular cycles of service to our neighbors, and the neighborhood into our calender. We learn to be disciples, by following Jesus example of loving those society has cast aside. In our history that has been homeless people, drug addicts, punk rockers, pregnant teens, and mentally ill people. Doing this together is important, as our friends learn what healthy community is like as we practice it with them.
There are many other things I could write, but I will stop there. I am currently writing a book that tells stories of our ministry over the years, with no commentary. It will not be negative at all. If you can't stand my critiques, maybe buy my book when it is available. Far from being the angry curmudgeon that I may appear in caricature, I love life, I have great hope for the future, and I believe the church will be reconciled and redeemed. I just happen to also believe I need to call us on our bullshit. Rest assured everything I say, I say to myself as well.