So, I am a day late to the Big Tent Christiaity Synchroblog. Here is the theme that we will be discussing this week: What are your hopes and dreams for the Church? More specifically, what does “big tent Christianity” mean to you? And what does it look like in your context? Oddly enough I am in the midst of a study leave this week and one of the questions my counter part in ministry asked me to wrestle with was, “What are your hopes and dreams for the Church?” Brilliant!
What are your hopes and dreams for the church?
I think that before I can answer that question I need to ask a more fundamental question. What is the church? There are so many definitions running around that it’s hard to keep up. It used to be (back in the 50s in America) that the “church” was simply those folks who showed up and sat in their pew on a Sunday morning. Now we have “communities” and “networks” and “friends” and “who knows what else”. So, I don’t think I can express my dreams for the church until I can have some working definition of what the “church” really is.
I want to follow most of those before me and say that the church is broken up into two large parts, the church visible and the church invisible or universal. I hold to a robust sovereignty of God and so I leave the latter to mystery, I am more concerned with the former. The definition that I want to posit for the “church” is a group of people who communing together in the midst of being on mission with Jesus.
So, let’s break that down. “A group of people”: this is necessary because following Jesus does not call people to be alone on mission. He calls them to be a part of his body, family, and bride. I think you can get a good sense of this from this clip:
The body of Christ ought be a collection of people of who speak with one voice because they are centered on one man and pursuing the same mission.
“Communing together”. Alan Hirsch calls this “Communitas”. Whatever you want to call it, I think that the church must go beyond community to communing. This is the active lived life of a group of people together. They are engaged with one another sharing the mission, life, and life of Jesus. They are practicing the sacraments together (communion and baptism). This is a group of people who worship around a common table and as they commune with Jesus through the Spirit they find themselves drawn to one another.
“ In the midst of being on mission with Jesus”. A group of people doing “community” does not the church make. They must be on mission with Jesus. There is no other mission that they are to be on. They are to be on Jesus’ mission. This means that they are glocally concerned with living revolutionary lives calling those around them into this mission. It is interesting that Jesus’ invitation was always to follow him. This following was at its core an invitation to join him in his mission.
So, that’s my definition. What do you think? Later, I will post some comments on the other blogs in the discussion. Tomorrow, I will write about my dream for the church.