My long time friend in Denver, James, writes of the importance of the church communities we are a part of. He says, “I am convinced that we are creatures that are shaped by the communities we give ourselves to.”
I couldn’t agree more. The group of people we choose to align ourselves with will give form to our identity and when it comes to a faith context the church we choose to be a part of will play a significant influence in our own formation. This is not rocket science of course, but it does have significant implications for how we choose which ‘church’ to a part of.
James writes:”I believe at a very deep level that I need church if I want to be a faithful follower of Jesus. But I do not think it is wise to participate in a community of faith that simply reinforces the scripts of the dominant culture.”
Now therein lies the tension.
How do we participate in communities that actually choose to live counter-culturally and in critique of the dominant framework?
We have taken this as our primary motif (‘Upstream’) and find ourselves in a place of constant tension in this regard. We are as human and as prone to selfish indulgence as anyone else, but we want to challenge one another to live differently, yet with a spirit of grace. I think its a healthy place to live, but I am aware that for many this is not even on the radar.
I was asked recently if I know any ‘good’ churches in the area. (The person asking put ‘good’ in inverted commas)
I had to reply “that depends on what you mean by ‘good'”
If ‘good’ = catering to your personal wish list then that is very different to where ‘good’ = a community that will call me and challenge me to live in a Christlike way.
For many the dominant questions when picking a church are related to the music, the kids and youth ministries and the interest level of the preaching. Is it any wonder we find ourselves in the malaise we are currently in?
As I have said before we can only be disciples in community so this question of alignment cannot be overrated.
This needs to be balanced with the very real acknowledgement that we do have needs. The person asking me the question has a teenage son, so while I believe ours is a ‘good’ church I am not sure it would be a suitable church for him and his family as he may wish for his son to have a larger peer group.
So here is my first theological reflection for a long time! Any thoughts?…