I always find it interesting when people ask me if we are connecting with a bigger church, or when people from nearby churches suggest we should just come and join them.
My response is increasingly ‘why don’t you come and join us?’ which only receives puzzled looks, as if to say ‘Why on earth would we do that?!…’ (exactly how I feel when asked that question)
Over a year ago we actually made a decision to connect with another church, but it was not at all to legitimise what we are doing or salve some conscience about the need to attend somewhere on Sunday.
The experiences I have only serve to remind me how strongly the christendom mindset is entrenched in us.
I know no-one means any ill will by these statements, but they do often annoy me because they continue to remind me that what we do is generally still seen as not ‘real’ church.
Great point. Maybe in a future post would could share about your community and it practises.
But it’s soooo much more fun doing pretend (ie. not ‘real’) church!
It’s funny – in principle, most would agree with real church as being “where two or three are gathered”, but in reality people often see it quite differently.
I’m still struggling to reprogram my own mind on that one, and I’ve been doing “pretend” church
for over two years now!
“reprogram my own mind”
thats a good analogy – most of our group calls it “detox”
I just got the new draft membership covenant from the Baptist Union of WA where the criteria for membership is at least 40 people… or you can be on probation until you make it. What the?..
c’mon hamo – 40 days of the flood, 40 days in the wilderness, 40 years in the desert… it’s a biblical number 😉
Surely you weren’t thinking that where ever 2 or 3 were gathered that actually constituted as a church gathering?!!! Oh Hamo, you’ve got sooooo much to unlearn 🙂
btw – guess what the Baptist Union of WA sounds like when said as an acronym? BOOWAH! sounds like the noise you could make if ever given a chance to vote on such official membership criteria, er… hang on… you won’t get a chance to vote on this will you… hmmmmm… could be difficult.
i love pretend church 🙂
‘Real Church” that would be a hard one to define in the western world , I guess everyone believes they are doing the best they can whether they meet on Sundays with a large group or some other day in a house. Perhaps the real question we should be asking is do we resemble the book of Acts at all?
Hamo, maybe you should take it as a complement when people ask you to join with them……
Come on guys…seriously. I have had enough of the constant jibes at the “institutional” model of church.
The fact is, and we all know it’s true at an intrinsic level, a real church has one key ingredient:
oh and 40 people 🙂
and an offering talk
only country music covered by the Hot Biscuit Band? 😉
I think you have seriously misrepresented the BU Document…But I will let others decide, here is what it says.
“Churches under 40 adult members will be admitted to full membership at the discretion of the council”
This is for churches which are not member churches at present.
Futhermore this is a draft document….but hey, why not talk about it on the internet first?
Yes, this is a draft document, however it must be a pretty strong indicator of where we are headed. No?
I take it you have a problem with me mentioning it in a blog comment?… I don’t. I think it is a public document and I have spoken with one of the signatories to it about my concerns.
Perhaps its where we stand that determines what we see here.
I see that “Churches under 40 adult members will be admitted to full membership at the discretion of the council” and say when did 40 people ever become the measurement of the validity of a church?….
Why should smaller churches need to beg to be admitted when a church with 41 or 441 and possibly quite unhealthy can be ‘in’ so long as they fulfil the criteria?!
Mark I don’t believe I have misrepresented it at all. It goes on to say
“If a church has not reached a membership of 40 adults at the end of the probationary period the church may remain on probation with the BUWA under the oversight of the assigned BUWA representative (WHAT THE?) If the church remains on probation with the BUWA regular reviews will be undertaken at agreed intervals.”
Not sure why you didn’t include that bit, but honestly it makes me want to vomit. It is incredibly condescending to suggest that smaller churches be on probation and be oversighted by the denomination.
The church that I am a part of would be considered on probation because it does meet a completely arbitrary figure?… Give me a break – that is nonsense and has absolutely no currency biblically – none at all.
I spoke with one of the signatories about this today who said it was a figure chosen for pragmatic reasons – it means a church is viable (ie can pay a pastor). Again, where you stand determines what you see. I do not see this a valid concern at all.
The current situation in BUWA also allows for affiliated churches – ie non member churches, whereas this one either has you ‘in’ or ‘out’.
On the basis of the document we would be ‘out’.
Not just on the numbers but the criteria required to ‘in’. (financial levy – we don’t take an offering, constitution – don’t have one/want one)
So – assuming this is a document that is intended to be a good representation of the future for Baptist churches, I can only see that we don’t have a part in that future.
There is no middle ground – and this was also part of my conversation with the person mentioned previously.
As one who has been part of Baptist churches for a long time it would make me very sad to have to pull out, but it seems that may be the route we have to go.
I will obviously make my concerns known in writing to the relevant people, but to be honest I am not sure it will change much and I do wonder if we may be better off just dropping it and moving on.
otherendup said “only country music covered by the Hot Biscuit Band?”
did you know Marc Gordon (previously of Hot Biscuit Band) just became the music director at Mt Hawthorn Baps or was it a lucky guess?
I am glad you spoke first to the people concerned.
I still think you misrepresented the document…
I hope they can accomodate what you and others are doing in different expressions of church…I would hate to see what you are involved in up at Brighton no longer part of the Baptist Union.
I think you are doing good and worthwhile ministry.
c’mon travis – prophetic insight is one of the main characteristics of pretend church – we all know that!!! 😉
Mark E- not sure you’ve made a very convincing case for your charge of Hamo misrepresenting the BOOWAH document???
Is what he is saying incorrect? or is it more that because he disagrees with what it says you feel he shouldn’t state that publically in this forum (which has nothing to do with misrepresentation – just personal discretion)?
Hamo, with the 16 kids that belong to our pretend church we are only about 4 “members” away from being big enough to be recognised as being potentially real. If we call ourselves the Joondalup Campus and you call yourselves the Brighton campus we’ve easily got enough to be real.
As far as offerings go – well we can always take one up at the beginning of one of our gatherings and then give it back to everyone again at the end – that’s actually more fair than what happens in real church, where real pastors tithe 10% and then get paid back another 90% on top of their initial investment – hmmmmmmm.
And constitutions – well you can get one of those off google any day of the week – all you have to do is hold a 2 minute AGM every 12 months and present an audit of your bank account (which will show $0 so it won’t be too much effort for an accountant to do for a fair price)
So don’t stress buddy – there’s always help if you need it 😉
My opinion is that Hamos intitial comment seriously misrepresented the intent of the document, and I stand by that, by others can disagree all they want.
I dont have a problem with him disagreeing with it in a public forum as he has stated he has already spoken to the people involved first….something he did not mention in his initial post.
and your comment on pastors is just plain rude and offensive considering what the pastors I know get up to during the week, and is quite unhelpful in a discussion where we are trying to find a way forward. mmmmm, pastors are in it for the money….well if they are, they are just plain stupid….because there are a lot easier ways to make money.
As far as misrepresentation, many bad things have been done with good intentions….
take it easy mark – no need to be offended. we’ve all been where you are and have worked our buns off for little monetary reward both as pastors and many continue to do so in other occupations. I do apologize however for drawing the analogy of “investing” it was a poor choice of words.
I was simply pointing out that in our type of gatherings a weekly tithing system stands for little practical use from an administrative point of view – If we make a comparison to a large church with paid staff (administrative costs), then everyone in our gathering would be entitled to receive their full offerings back because they all put equal into the “running of the church”.
Instead of implementing such a system, when there is any need, people give freely, whether it be time, money, food, possessions, accommodation etc. so that all are without need (sounds like another church I’ve read about).
I think the problem is not so much that big church is wrong but that little church is not wrong too – but if they are going to be played off against each other with one being recognized as valid and the other as not – then that’s where we have a problem.
sorry again mark
No problem….appreciate your concilitory comments, and I fully agree with this…
“I think the problem is not so much that big church is wrong but that little church is not wrong too – but if they are going to be played off against each other with one being recognized as valid and the other as not – then that’s where we have a problem.”
They are both valid, and this is what I think Hamo was saying, and as far as that goes, I agree with his critique. Why cant we take the time to try and work together, rather than it always being a ‘us and them’ type deal?
What I would say about this is that alternative models of church have to seriously look at the financial and legal issues. None of us can be naive. They need to be financially independent, just as more ‘normal’ models of church do. I understand the model that o’endup is involved in sounds like it does not need funds. But what about if they start doing things like community programs? Who is going to insure people when they go and fix up someones garden? You cannot expect the BU or some other body to administer this without some contribution….(just for instance)
I agree with you here Mark in relation to the futility of “Us and them” ?- but that is precisely what the BUWA document is suggesting and that this distinction should be formally enforced based in part on a numerical quantity.
What theological basis could possibly be used for suggesting the number of members in a church congregation has any relevance when that church is seeking to be admitted into the Baptist family of churches?
In my opinion, this is the sort of bureaucratic BS that makes something simply beautiful ie, 2 or 3 gathering together in Jesus’ name, and potentially turns “church” into a game of performance one-up-man-ship and people pleasing. This is certainly not what pastors need to be worried about when, as you already allude to, they are giving their all, week in and week out.
I’m sorry to say this, because I know people have stated before how Borden has been misrepresented – but this is exactly the sort of stuff Paul Borden was advising us to implement in our church when he did his consultation. Except, because we were such a big church, each individual department had to set and reach annual numerical targets – otherwise, the pastor would go on a 12 month probation, and if they didn’t reach their targets as required in the next 1-2 years, they would be fired.
oops – should say “take something simply beautiful” not “makes…” 🙂
“each individual department had to set and reach annual numerical targets – otherwise, the pastor would go on a 12 month probation, and if they didn’t reach their targets as required in the next 1-2 years, they would be fired.”
I had a job like that,my title was ‘Sales Executive’. You set a budget, if you reach it, your next budget is even higher, because you have to stay motivated, if you exceed it you get a bonus, but if you don’t make it you are on the chopping block…
You could have Baptism Bonuses…or Conversion Cash….oh dear, it’s late and my cynical side is emerging. Back to my report writing.
“What I would say about this is that alternative models of church have to seriously look at the financial and legal issues. None of us can be naive. They need to be financially independent, just as more ‘normal’ models of church do.”
Mark, could you please describe the financial and legal issues and how they assist churches in making disciples and equipping people for works of service?
Also, how do you reconcile the goal or aim for a church to be financially independent with an early church where “no one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had”?
Financial and legal issues: a ‘church’ group goes and helps out a neighbour by remodelling their back yard (great idea by the way). Someone injures themself, and sues the ‘church’ group. Thats reality. No matter what model of church we prefer, there are legal and financial issues, and someone has to administer them…that costs money. Alternative models of church need to contribute, the same as everyone else, its part of being in the community, its part of growing up. We help our kids out as they grow, but at some point we expect them to launch out themself and either contribute to the family home, or start one of their own.
Thats all very well to play the ‘kingdom’ card Lance. In that case denominations should all have one central budget…it wont happen, no matter how ‘early church’ it sounds. I dont need to reconcile the goal…..its reality.
I know it’s me, not all agree, but I’d rather shop at the corner store than the local supermarket. They even know my name!!!!
Pingback: A former (pond-scum) pastor writes… « Signposts2
I’m somewhat confused.
Hamo, tell me about your “pretend” church. Also, are y’all “really” arguing or just “pretending” to argue? (That is what people do in real church)
Pingback: Backyard Missionary » Blog Archive » Pondering Being Baptist… Or Not…
I understand your point about reality, but our reality is determined by our choices.
It is awesome that a denomination or other Christian group has the resources to provide cover for groups who are trying to meet needs in their own backyard (no pun intended). However, I would hope the denomination would see doing good as its own reward and seek to support it instead of trying to ensure the good deeds are monetarily profitable.
One further point, yes as a Westerner I would strive to be fine on my own. When we set a goal for each one to be independent, we are deceived from the truth that as One Body (yes, that ‘kingdom’ card again) we are all mutually dependent. There is nothing wrong with being financially gifted, but it’s worth nothing without using those funds to meet needs. There is nothing wrong with a group meeting the needs of their neighbour, but they won’t be effective without accepting funds to meet needs.
” I would hope the denomination would see doing good as its own reward and seek to support it instead of trying to ensure the good deeds are monetarily profitable. ”
where is the denomination going to get the money to do this from Lance?
From the individual churches and individuals who have the gift of raising funds. They give the funds to a group of people put in charge of distributing those funds in order to meet various needs. This already happens to a lesser extent, doesn’t it?
thats a joke Lance, right?
You cant have it both ways.
If a different expression of church is to grow, it needs to be self sustaining. I am all for supporting missionaries and missionary endevour….but having a group recognised as a church is something altogether different.