Archive for the 'Community' Category

Books / Readings, Community

A Helpful Framework

Just finished reading a book called “Whole Church: Leading from Fragmentation to Engagement” by Mel Lawrenz. I can’t recommend the book except that the framework he sets forth I find really helpful and provocative! The book is just lots of ink on paper. The framework is on page 11 and the rest works at supporting the framework, but not very well, in my opinion.

The framework Mel sets forth is a helpful way to think about God’s work in the world and the work that God has called us to do in the world as well.

Mel defines engagement as “Bringing together God’s supply and human need.

And then he further talks about four kinds of engagement that every church is called to do.

1. Engaging with God (the life of worship and personal devotion)
2. Engaging with God’s people (real koinonia {Community} through small groups and other means)
3. Engaging with your community (imaginative ways to distribute Christian witness that is decentralized, grass roots, salt and light.)
4. Engaging with the world (developing an awareness of and involvement in global mission)

When Jesus announced, what I call his mission to the world, he said he was sent to engage the world. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” That’s engagement!

It is also what he calls us to do!

Community, General, Special Announcements

Happy Birthday to Emergent Brethren!

This month marks an anniversary since the start of this blog site. Here are some numbers to show its activity:

166 Posts, including the section on Brian McLaren’s book
13 Authors who contributed the posts
13 The most number of comments to a post (see the 3/15/08 post by Michael Salerno called, “My money, my mouth”)
11 Number of countries with readers who have visited this site.
5 Number of pages visited by a new visitor in Saudi Arabia.
3 Number of years this site has existed.

Thanks to everyone who’s written a post or left a comment! Your writing is a blessing to many people (even if they don’t leave comments)!

With much appreciation,

Jeff Glass
Site Administrator

Community, Leadership, Young Adults

Leading with diversity

After lurking here for quite a while and having posting privledges for over a year, I finally have something to share!

I was writing this post for another Brethren-related blog where I am an contributing editor and I thought it might connect with some of the folks on this blog as well. The site is called Already and Not Yet and was an  outgrowth of an Office of Ministry-sponsored young adult forum on ministerial leadership held almost a year ago. While most of the posts are written by young adult, Brethren-oriented thinkers, anyone is welcome to come join in the conversation. As for this re-post, feel free to comment here, there, or everywhere!

I don’t think anyone will argue we live in a diverse world. Today’s technology and culture have made amazing advances in connecting us to others who are very different than we are. However, the church (worldwide, denominational, and local) has been reluctant, hesitant, and at times flat out refused to embrace this diversity.

Thankfully, some of these trends seem to be shifting. I read with great interest about the “emergent/emerging” church that is growing in recognition and numbers. Part of my affinity comes from strong similarities I sense between their commitments to living out the life and teachings of Jesus in the midst of community. Yet one of the distinctive elements of many (most?) of these groups is their tolerance, acceptance, and comfort with diversity. Not just racial or cultural diversity, but also political and theological differences. It’s not just a “check your differences at the door” kind of diversity, but one that welcomes people to bring all of who they are as they gather around God’s table. By committing to this as a part of their identity I think they are modeling a deep, authentic way of living together as the body of Christ that those of us in the “existing” church could learn something from.

This raises important questions for leaders seeking to nurture this kind of diversity within communities of faith. How do we lead out of our own beliefs and values while leaving space for those who may believe (very) differently? How can we provide a sense of centeredness and direction in such diverse communities? Is there less space for prophetic leadership amidst this kind of diversity?

If we are to truly embrace the beauty, wisdom, and mystery that living in such deep, authentic, diverse community can bring, we will need new visions of leadership to make it work. What do these new visions look like to you?

(Original post – Already and Not Yet)

Community, Missional, Third Places

Third Spaces

Many people are probably aware of the concept of Third Spaces developed by the sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his book “The Great Good Place”. For those who aren’t here is a little run down of what Third Spaces are from Wikipedia.

“The third place is a term used in the concept of community building to refer to social surroundings separate from the two usual social environments of home and the workplace. In his influential book The Great Good Place, Ray Oldenburg (1989, 1991) argues that third places are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place.

Oldenburg calls one’s “first place” the home and those that one lives with. The “second place” is the workplace — where people may actually spend most of their time. Third places, then, are “anchors” of community life and facilitate and foster broader, more creative interaction. All societies already have informal meeting places; what is new in modern times is the intentionality of seeking them out as vital to current societal needs. Oldenburg suggests these hallmarks of a true “third place”: free or inexpensive; food and drink, while not essential, are important; highly accessible: proximate for many (walking distance); involve regulars – those who habitually congregate there; welcoming and comfortable; both new friends and old should be found there.”

So your coffeehouses, pubs, bars, etc are Third Spaces.

I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about Third Spaces and the problem that most Pastors have with them…they are so busy that they can’t be in them. I know that has been true for me in the past and I am seeking to change that.

One thing that I am thinking about is a rental space that is literally next door to my house. I am in the process of thinking through the idea of renting the space next door, creating a third space out of it, use it for all kind of community events, have coffee and bakery items for sale all the time, and then use the space for Sunday Worship gatherings. The one problem as far as Sunday worship gatherings is there is no space for nursery and children ministries in that place..we would have to use my house for those things..which could be doable.

This idea is just in it’s infancy..though I am trying to find out what it would cost to rent it and if I can fix it up (paint it, etc..). I’m interested in your opinions…what do you think? And what kind of community activities/events could we hold there (some ideas are story time for children, after-school tutoring, music nights, movie nights, open mic nights, karaoke night, etc..)?

Change!?!, Community, Missional

The Gospel….

Here is a quote from Scot McKnight’s book “Embracing Grace”… “A local church always performs the gospel it proclaims. This may sound odd, so let me emphasize the world “always”. A church always performs the gospel it proclaims because its performance is its proclamation. If you look at a church and what it does and how it operates you will see the gospel of that church. The important point to make here is that the deepest indicator of that church’s gospel cannot be limited to the pastor’s sermons or the Sunday school teacher’s teaching or the doctrinal statement’s affirmations, or the summer camp offerings, of the aesthetic expressions. The sure indicator of the gospel in a local community is how those Christians live.”

Now here is Scot’s definition of gospel… “The gospel is the work of God to restore humans to union with God and communion with others, in the context of a community, for the good of others and the world.”

Interested in knowing what you think!

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