Monday, February 9, 2009

All roads lead home (eventually)

Well I hope you've met my co-blogger Frank Waller and read his first post. I look forward to much conversation with him and others as we continue what hopefully will be a fruitful and helpful discussion.
I want to comment on FW's statement regarding his desire to continue to be involved locally with fellow believers in his current setting(read church) while remaining free-range in his thinking. This has proven to be a challenge for me as I travel around the midwest . I have ties with fellow believers in several states and enjoy meeting up with them and sharing God-life experiences over coffee on a regular basis. I follow several blogs and podcasts and enjoy keeping up with what Father is doing in the lives of believers around the world. Oddly enough as I shared with others the organic experience of becoming church rather than going to "church" I found I was losing touch with the very ones in my own community who helped me discover the joy of life "outside the walls". I have always been critical of those who spend great amounts of money and time flitting back and forth the country to attend conferences to rub elbows with the latest and greatest theological superstars, then return home to have no impact there. And yet.. I am just as guilty of this as the people I point fingers at.
This morning I read a post by Bill Kinnon on his blog kinnon. tv where he comments on a recent conference at George Fox Seminary in Newberg, Oregon. He states that had he been there "One of the questions I would have asked of the assembled big guns is 'How is this worked out in your own lives? Tell us about your involvement in local Christian community?'". A great question that needs to be asked of all of us who open our mouths, books and blogs and tell others how it should be done. Would that all of us who dare to speak into other lives had the credentials in real community that Eugene Peterson, Shane Claiborne, Rickard Bjerkander, Kinnon's tribe and countless others who we don't know about have. Instead we seem to be flooded with pulpfiction prophets who gain notoriety with others and yet are far removed from any involvement with the community in which they live(or so it would seem). I remember our little community had a radio evangelist who sent tapes across the world and yet was disliked by the community and his own family. How many writers and bloggers have renown around the world yet don't even have contact with their neighbors?
I am happy to report that our little band of wanderers who dwell in the same area are finding out what it means to live out our beliefs amongst our neighbors and the results are amazing even to us. We have found that a local coffee shop has become a nexxus of spiritual power on many occasions as we have met in two's and three's and shared Spirit life. A short half hour get together turns into a three hour gathering as those around us are drawn into the discussion and mutual growth and encouragement take place. It happened again last Saturday as John my bro-in-law and I met for brunch before going to the target range(we're not deranged gun nuts so don't panic). While there we engaged a couple in conversation about matters of the Spirit and ended three hours later joining hands and hearts to commit to each other. Not only are those we meet with regularly becoming Cymbrogi(Google it), so are others in our community regardless of "church" affiliation. As we seek to live out this freerange life of Jesus we are finding that Father has assembled a talented group of individuals who are becoming a band of followers able to support one another in a way we could not have done in our other institutional settings. Are we still viewed as a threat by the institutional churches in our area? Absolutely! By the very nature of things I'm afraid this will be the case. But maybe as Hebrews 10:24 says we really will "incite,irritate,provoke each other to love and good works".
I can't spend all my time looking back at my churchy ways and days though, because then I am no better than the horse that jumped the fence and now stands outside the corral all the time criticising the horses still inside. The time,we are finding, is here to flesh out the new life we've found and follow where"Shadowfax" leads. This is beginning to happen and we are seeing others joining us in this community where we live. We will never sponsor conferences(hopefully) or write a bunch of books on the subject because the Spirit's "methods" are not able to be contained in any one manner or method. You can't bottle a hurricane. But my prayer is that the few who read this blog and the upcoming ones will be prompted to share what this life of discipleship entails with the rest of us. So that we may be encouraged together and truly follow Abba in the way of Jesus wherever that path may lead. Thank you Bilbo Baggins for reminding us that "not all who wander are lost".
So what's been going on with you? Grace and Peace, TruckerFrank.


Bill Kinnon said...

I wouldn't be to quick to suggest I know what real community is. I think I have a better handle on what it ain't. :-)

glenn said...

Frank -

You hit on something that have struggled with over the last few years, i.e., Christian community.

As a former pastor, I couldn't find a place to fit in local churches, in spite of repeated attempts. I couldn't be myself without feeling demoralized by being drug through through a church system required to gain legitimacy and a voice.

After repeated attempts, I went on a "church fast" and have recently joined with some friends in a house church.

The bottom line is that the church is a community intended display Christ's kingdom to their community and one another. We have a lot of latitude in how to do that, but we have to find a way.

It takes a community!

P.S. It was fun sharing one of those times with you and John and J.C. several months ago when we were in Missouri.

Carhauler John said...

I'm with Bill when it comes to knowing what real community "ain't".
I also think real community is organic or natural and can't be reduced to a set pattern or "how to" process. Our Father deals with all of us individually, how He responds in one person's life doesn't obligate Him to respond the same way in every person's life. I think the same can be said in how He builds real Christian community. How it forms or comes to be in one geographical location doesn't mean that same process can or should be repeated somewhere else. All I know is where believers are willing to live loved, community can grow, but it takes a lot longer than microwave popcorn or institutional relationships, both of which leave you thirsty.

glenn said...

John -

You nailed it!

I wonder if you hauled my Escape. It was made at the Claycomo plant.

Trucker Frank said...

Thanks for your comments guys. You've all brought up one thing which is so important to remember with regards to community. It will take different forms and one size does not fit all. Bill your statement is right on that we cannot come to the place where we feel we have all the answers or "arrived". Community like family is an ongoing struggle to become. Glenn and John you have rightly pointed out that we can't have a program which will cover all needs and situations. This is what I find disturbing about the whole write-a-book then have-a-conference mentality which has consumed the newer expressions of "church".
John and I have found that (as our group has been seeking to live out the practices and ideals of the Didache community)we are a unique organism as a group. The last thing we want to do is set in stone the things we are doing and say "this is what everyone else must do". Community which is not open to "the community" becomes just another form of the isolationism which the institutional church has entrenched itself in for the better part of the last 2000 years. We dont need new boxes to imprison the life of the Spirit.
Grace and Peace

Theresa Seeber said...

Frank, I love your comment about not being able to bottle a hurricane. I will be pondering that one as I seek the hurricane this week. Thank you.