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Church is Here

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By Virgil - Posted on 27 January 2010

by Joy Schroeder
My deal is that I am a 40-something ‘recovering’ charismatic evangelical. I grew up in the church and spent 23 years completely sold out specifically to the Mega church experience and LOVED every minute of it, eventually finding myself in leadership roles etc. Because of a few very ugly experiences with the ‘powers that be’ I started to have questions about leadership, how money seems to be misappropriated in the church in general, the role of women, the inability for the church to truly promote reconciliation, the place of gays in the church...biblical inerrancy…etc., etc., etc. I even began to have a sincere crisis of faith.

My husband and I left that church with all of that stuff banging around in our heads hoping to find another church home…only to realize that most communities of faith in our area were the same. We hooked up with a ‘new’ multisite video venue church plant in our area because it was very small…and seemed to have potential to be more intimate and missional. What we found, however, was that the theology was perhaps more conservative. We ended up in constant tension and frustrated until we were asked by our pastor to “prayerfully consider finding another church home”.

What was left of my faith at that point was pretty much crushed.

Fortunately, we stumbled upon the Emerging Desert Cohort that had only been meeting for about 2 months at that time. The cohort was started by two twenty something guys who were high school buddies…who both found themselves at odds with the traditional options for church. We tried it with great trepidation (I was terrified)...lugging all of our anger, confusion, disillusionment, pain and constant questions. We were received and cared for. We were affirmed and supported. We were loved…and valued. The cohort began experiencing some significant growth about the time we started attending…so we began hosting in our home over a year and a half ago…and we continue to have 30-40 adults and children weekly. We collectively strive to embody Kingdom living, together sharing meals and sacraments, stories and struggles. There’s no real format, no hierarchy, no corporate singing or children’s ministry. All we really have is our commitment to each other and a deep desire to pursue Jesus and his Gospel.

Read the rest of the story: http://www.emergentvillage.com/weblog/schroeder-story

SuperSoulFighter's picture

In terms of corporate gatherings, Joy's description of the Emergent Desert Cohort and its times of fellowship are probably as close to the "ideal" as one can get, today. In fact, their communal dinners and non-hierarchical, open discussions sound strikingly similar to what I proposed a few years ago.

Good to know disenfranchised, disillusioned Evangelicals and Charismatics have somewhere spiritually safe to go!

John

Virgil's picture

John, the first century church came to mind as I was reading her description of the gatherings. I think that most disenfranchised believers can find something like this if they look hard and long enough instead of becoming bitter about church altogether.

I loved the story, so I am glad you enjoyed it too.

Ed's picture

Yes, I too love what Joy has found, or assisted to develop. Recently, I joined the Simple Church network on .ning, thinking that I'd found a place...maybe I could find simple folk who wanted to worship simply. I was wrong.

Oh, I found a few good folks there, but the vast majority were "popes" without the theological training (MDivs). There were discussion groups where they told everyone what they should or shouldn't believe. Certain people were "damned to hell" (like me). Others were going to go to hell if they didn't get it right. All in all, it was one of the most judgmental places I've ever been.

A friend of mine, a few years back, started what she calls "Bagel Church." Every Sunday morning, she goes to get a bagel and some coffee at a local place. She reads her bible. Gradually over the past couple of years, people began to join her. Now there's a group of about 12 (I think), and it's a place of fellowship, scripture reading and discussion. No judgments...just purity.

I long for that. I wish I could find it here in Traverse City.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

Virgil's picture

I've speculated before that the freedom people find in Christ does not jive with the modern Church approach to liturgy and doctrine. If we are to be honest to ourselves, most people will find comfort in a structured, dogmatic and legalistic church structure. I don't know why that is...some psychologist could perhaps elaborate on that more than I could.

Ed's picture

Well, I am a professional counselor not a psychologist, but I would say that it is due to our basic need for safety and security. A well structured dogma with a well-defined hierarchy gives the member a sense of safety. It's kind of like a family - when the children know the boundaries and they know who their parents/authorities are, they function well.

The problem is that, as children grow, they are supposed to establish their own hierarchy and structure - i.e., a new family unit. To not do so leaves one as a child. This is what I believe Paul meant when he referred to "I spoke as a child." He was preparing the believers for this new structure -the new family unit - the one in which the believer is free from the previous structure - "Behold the old has passed away, all things have become new."

Today's church lives in infancy (not physically, but spiritually). They crave milk. Were the church "full-grown," we would see a more decentralized structure. This might be why we have 34,000 denominations; we are all trying to find the "meat" which would be fulfilled eschatology, fulfilled redemption. As long as the denominations remain under the mistaken theology of the futurist paradigm, they will remain infantile and in bondage.

ed

Papa is especially fond of us

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