Wednesday, January 21, 2009

holistic community

So I have been thinking a lot about the organic, holistic community of faith. Do we really experience a holistic community of faith in the modern American church? I have, at some point and on some levels. There have been times that I haven't experienced it. I have gathered with other believers on a regular basis to talk about faith and pray for one another.

Can this type of holistic and organic group happen in our churches? Can we have authentic relationships in our churches? I believe we can. My struggle these days is, can this type of authentic relationship, this holistic expression of faith happen outside of the "local church"?

For so long we have been indoctrinated with the idea of the local church being key. We all need to be involved in a constituted church, led by a pastor, meeting in a centralized location. The American church is built upon the foundation of the building, the pastor and the worship service. I like it that way, I work in a local church. I am an Associate Pastor, my career, lifestyle and calling are related to the local church. To say that the local church may not exist anymore causes me to have a harsh reaction. I have a strong desire to believe that the way we do church is correct, but where does it come from?

Much of what we do is Landmarkism. It's a belief that the church, particularly the Baptist church has always existed from the time of John the Baptist. One of the teachings is that the church only exists in it's visible, local expression or congregation. Is that true? We may say no, but we often live yes. Can a home church or a network of home churches be viable? Can a church meet in a coffee shop during regular hours, or in a resturant? Do we superimpose when and where a church must meet in order for it to be a church?

Now don't hear what I'm not saying. Sitting in front of the TV on Sunday morning and hearing a sermon is not church. Church is an authentic community, a hoslistic group that takes care of every need, touches every part of our lives and connects us in a deep and penetrating way. The issue is less about if a church meeting in a coffee shop is a church. The issue has seem to become, is a group of people meeting in a building on Sunday morning, is that really a church?

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