Friday, April 21, 2006

Spiritual Ronin cont.

A friend of mine has just published a book on spiritual health and leadership. It comes from a well known publisher and is professionally impressive. The problem is, my friend who is an expert in things spiritual does not attend church and will not join a local body for all sorts of good reasons. He is part of a growing number of people I am aware of who are independent spiritual experts, self-employed contractors, retreat leaders, spiritual guides and Bible study leaders....many of whom stay unconnected and uncommitted to the local church.
Then, last night in Modesto, at the Annual Celebration of the Pacific Southwest Conference, Sherwood Carthens, pastor of Bayside South Covenant Church in South Sacramento preached a barnstorming sermon on Romans 12:2. His four points were: 1. We need a set of core values that don't change (the Jesus Creed), 2. We need to adopt God's radical plan for expansion in which no person is expendible, 3. We need to be committed to a ministry of radical reconciliation (II Cor 5:19-20). We cannot be content with anyone NOT being a part of the body 4. We need to live out a sincere belief that we are one family.
Sherwood drove home the point that we need to be moving into committed relationships in and through the local church; incarnational, messy, flawed as it is....is the plan.
I am sitting in a sanctuary right now with a bunch of other Covenant pastors. I need them and they need me. I need a group to whom I am accountable and committed. I can't run this race on my own, all alone, in my private interior world. I need to continue to learn to obey, to follow directions, even orders. Do you know how hard that is for me? I don't like "taking orders" or "taking direction". Instead, I like advice and suggestion from a peer, from an equal.
But that's not good enough, it's not deep enough, it's not biblical enough.


At 6:57 AM , Anonymous Fred said...

It is necessary for Christians to seek fellowship with each other. It does not mean we all agree on matters, but that we strengthen each other through the Spirit. The Spirit is from God, and Is God. We as Christians, accepting Gods grace, then are driven to share that faith. Christ on earth shared a personal relationship with the 12 (and many more), the early missionaries maintained fellowship with Christians all over the Roman world. The Spirit gives us the strength, the church (as in the whole body of believers) keeps us spritually fed so that we may - and indeed must follow the the Spirit. "Go, make disciples".

Thank you for sharing this, the commitment to bringing everyone into the body.

At 10:04 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comment. I believe God created us to live in community. The church can and should be that community,filled as it is with both sinners and saints. (We are all both sinners and saints.) Deb

At 3:24 PM , Anonymous Kent said...

I am always intrigued by people who have a passion for Christ but not for the people of Christ. The church will always have problems. The emergent church will have problems, the house churches will have problems, mega churches have them as well. Do they really think that if they remove themselves from the church they will no longer have frustrations? That they will be on more solid ground spiritually speaking? As the saying goes, I have met the enemy it is us.

It is the easy path to throw up your hands and run for the hills. It does not take prayer and strength to hang out at Starbucks. It does not take persistence to blog on line and avoid those at the local congregation. The church is the only plan we have. It is the only avenue we have. It ain't pretty, but it works far more often than it fails. I choose to stay and keep going.

At 5:50 PM , Blogger Dan said...

Hi Donn! It was good meeting you at Modesto. I too was compelled by Sherwood's exhortation. Blessings, Dan

At 2:11 AM , Blogger Ryan said...

Hello from Uganda again. I am the guy from Community Covenant Church.
I thought your post was really good. I think there are a few things to adress. First, as you and some of the commentors (comentators?) point out, there is no real, powerful, and vibrant Christian faith without community.
I think what needs to be included, and something many people miss is the idea that this spiritual community may look so radically different that it does not look like a community to people invested in the traditional structure.
I think this is because for people like your friend, they are so turned off by the history in general, and their own experience in specific, with the church they reject anything associated with it outright.
For example, I created a group called Friday Fasters. It was simply a group of Christians, and some non-Christians who would fast and pray each Friday durring thier lunch time. i created a "guide" to help direct the time where i raised a specific issue I thought the Lord would want His children to adress. It was meant to rasie awareness, provide a space for intercessory prayer, and I asked participants to take the money they would spend on food and send it to a ministry involved in the issue. So each Friday, we would spend time in prayer, in worship, and in outreach together, though seperate.
We did this for a year, there were 12 of us. By the end of the year different people were writing the guides. It was really powerful experience and for many of the participants this was our church, our community. This was a place where people could be the spiritual people they are, where we engaged in growth, in non-authoritarian ladership, in participation, in spiritual action. Now we never got a chance to meet together physically... We may not be able to have been a church the way we envision, and I encouraged people to be involved in their local churches, but the experience was spiritually revitalizing for almost everyone involved.
I can see that for lots of people, their spiritual communities will look very different.
So just because it looks different doesn't mean it is not legitimate spiritual community.

At 2:47 PM , Blogger Brad Boydston said...

When Jesus announced the kingdom of God he called together disciples and formed them into a community -- a church. By definition church is the primary spiritual discipline in Jesus' kingdom.

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