“The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion.” _John Wesley
Let us remember that we are in this together. We cannot do this thing called religion, or whatever you wish to call it, on our own. The lie that says we can indeed do it alone is deceptive enough to drive us from the church, from the community we need so badly, and from the corporate worship from which all our energy for individual worship must come. We come up with whatever excuse, from the very casual... "I'm just so busy" or "well I don't need to go to church because I read the Bible enough on my own" or "I don't really like the pastor very much so I'll wait until they get a new one"... to the very philosophical... "the world is my church" or "institutionalized religion wants me to think I need to be there on Sunday morning but I don't have any spiritual need for it." But in the end the spiritual discipline of corporate celebration/worship/discipleship is irreplaceable. Community, however uncomfortable it can get, is what calls us outside ourselves and into the movement of love we call the gospel. Let us continue, as we should, to rethink how we do church and community but let us never abandon it for the deception of prideful solitude.
Community, however uncomfortable it can get, is what calls us outside ourselves and into the movement of love we call the gospel.
This is a brilliant statement, Wes. Because God is love, and with God's overflow of love, He can't help but love - that's what we are called to.
First, excellent. Second, the Lead Pastor and I are trying to teach a new way of community. Like you, ministering in the UMC, we find ourselves frustrated at times with our own fellow journeymen who see church as an optional (often first on the list to put the chop-block) "Sunday" event. Though we have begun a small group atmosphere and practice, there is some deep seeded resistance to commitment and vulnerability. I don't understand it honestly. I grew up in a house that was open, honest, vulnerable, and willing to ask for forgiveness. We triumphed and failed together as mom, dad, sister and brother.
The family imagery is the core understanding of the Trinity/Creation/Salvation story. Further, when some make the claim, "I don't need a church on Sunday morning to worship God," they usually are saying, "I don't want to get messy with people." When the author of Hebrews says to his audience "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another-- and all the more as you see the Day approaching," is he not saying that we all NEED each other? Those who stay on the outside or at least keep their true selves at a distance are actually damaging the group as a whole.
Those people assume that the group doesn't need them to love and be loved by. They want no part of spurring anyone else onto love or good deeds. This breaks the whole image of the family. For what family could truly be called "family" if its participants saw each other for one hour a week? Not to mention (but I obviously will) the hour has song and message which take up 80% of that period. They would not be able to love, encourage, and spur each other onto good works.
The sad part of this whole ordeal is humanity's successful replacing of the irreplaceable. We have replaced community with self. May we begin anew Wes. God's strength to you.
Thanks guys... Your vision for your church is truly inspiring. You know, I have to say, I envy you guys. I envy that you guys have each other, two guys with real vision and depth moving in the same direction (or close to it) together. Not every person in ministry is blessed with that. Don't take what you have for granted. Keep moving, even when faced with oposition you have to move because you have the ability to do so where so many others just can't. Stay on the cutting edge.
I love where I am and what I am doing right now... but I dream of doing ministry with folks like you.
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