friday five: i want to be part of a church that…

Sally at RevGalBlogPals writes This has been a good week for British Methodism, The Annual Conference has discussed and debated many things and not shied away from some difficult stuff. New Ministers have been Ordained and received into Full Connexion. Add to that the fact that two amazing ladies; Alison Tomlin and Eunice Attwood have taken up their posts as President and Vice-President for 2010/2011- and that they have both inspired us in their speeches and preaching , and you begin to get the picture.

In the Vice- Presidents Address Eunice gave an inspiring account of the type of church she wants to be a part of, almost poetic she said:

I want to be part of a church that is prayer-filled –
A church that is resourced and sustained by the Bible,
A church that can offer hope even in a credit crunch,
A church that can live well with difference and diversity… (and so on).

Sally challenges us to write 5 things we dream of seeing in church. I’ve found everyone’s posts thought provoking and realized I have nothing theological to say–I don’t know enough/haven’t thought enough about it, but from a lay person’s perspective, I certainly have things I was looking for in a church when I left the church of my youth. This is a personal list, and I don’t know that it fits anyone but me. (and yes, the church we attend fits a lot of this.)

1) a church that provides community. (This is what I have most missed while we were looking for churches and this certainly takes time to build, but it’s pretty easy to tell right off if a church cultivates this.)

2) a church where the laity is as involved as the clergy, where one can find a way to participate even if one can’t sing, where all gifts of all people are recognized and nurtured.

3) a church where education and thinking are encouraged, but that doesn’t think it has a monopoly on such things (I didn’t say this as well as I might have, but this is me being pretty annoyed at the quote on the home page of the new PC(USA) website. Really off-putting to this former evangelical whose evangelical friends by no means “check their heads at the door.” I know that exists (and Computerguy saw it first hand a few years ago in a church he attempted to be involved in–long story and his not mine) but it’s not what I was a part of and the disagreements I have with my friends are based on thoughtful, prayerful study on both our parts. The quote bothered me enough that I’ve sent an email to the webmaster with my concern.)

4) a church I could invite ANY friend to and know he/she would be respected and accepted and, as the Holy Spirit leads, invited into all aspects of worship and service. And an Open Table.

5) a church where the Word of God is proclaimed and the sermon keeps me interested and leaves me thinking. And where words are used well.

The Bonus: Aside from the verse in Galatians that appears on the right, I have to go with one others have also posted. I’m including a bit more of the conversation because I like what it says about the kingdom of God. Mark 12:28-34 (NRSV Anglicized Version from Oremus Bible Browser):

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, ‘Which commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” The second is this, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.’ Then the scribe said to him, ‘You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that “he is one, and besides him there is no other”; and “to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength”, and “to love one’s neighbour as oneself”,—this is much more important than all whole burnt-offerings and sacrifices.’ When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, ‘You are not far from the kingdom of God.’ After that no one dared to ask him any question.

I wonder, sometimes, what are our “burnt offerings and sacrifices” that have become more important than love.

Edited to Add (July 6): They’ve changed the front page of the website so a different quote comes up first. The other quote is still there if one clicks through the videos. That works for me.

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6 Responses to friday five: i want to be part of a church that…

  1. Sally says:

    # 3 is so important- we need to make sure education and thinking are not looked down upon or over spiritualised!

  2. Jayne says:

    So….I had to run over to the PCUSA site to see the quote you mentioned. I’m an elder and often find myself a little bothered by what the national body has to say.

    Sigh…I have to agree. Is this REALLY the message we want to send??

  3. Mavis says:

    I’m one who bemoans having to switch off my brain to cope with worship – and that is nothing to do with evangelicalism – more to do with faith being reduced to folksy feel good aphorisms. So my response to the website is maybe a little more positive. Although I’m not sure it is a characteristic of a denomination per se. And the implication of this is that non-Presbyterians do check their heads in at the door.

    • bookgirl71 says:

      I don’t disagree with the comment so much as I thought it was surprisingly “we’re better than they are” for the place and purpose. If they had even led off with one of the other videos/quotes and that one had come up later, I might not have minded it.

  4. Hi bookgirl, found you through the RevGals. The person who wrote that quote happened to be my next door neighbor in seminary. I can assure you that the large part of what he is talking about is not evangelicalism. It is not my story to tell, but if you knew his journey you would understand. I know that everyone who reads that will have their own interpretation, which is fine and part of the “not parking our brains at the door ” that many of us hope for in the 21st century church.

    For me a thinking church is about intentionality and thoughtfulness, not intellectualism.

    Glad to have found your blog!


    • bookgirl71 says:

      Thanks. I guess we all interpret things via our own stories. Maybe a good reminder of what happens when we take things out of context. I like intentionality and thoughtfulness. Well-said.

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