I don’t often post on The Joondalup Thing these days based on a request by some for me to shut up :)
But in rebellion – I post!
TJT for those wondering, is our little church group in the City of Joondalup…It actually meets weekly in Currambine, not Joondalup, but Currambine is in Joondalup City…. so it counts :)
Starting a church intentionally sounds challenging. Accidentally starting one is even more so! What I mean is that when you set out as a pastor or a group of ‘sent ones’ from some church or denomination to intentionally start a church you usually have a plan, maybe some core values, theological imperatives and the like. Then you set out to a given area (that you have done some demographical study on) and hire a hall, set out your chairs, get a band and away you go. OK maybe you will operate out of a different paradigm to that, but yo uget my drift? This from all reports is hard work!
‘Accidentally’ starting a church, in my opinion is even harder. Trust me, I think we did this. A group of friends…well actually in reflection, not all of us were even what you would call friends, we had some connection with one another, some were very close friends, some had worked with others, some were friends of the friends of those guys. Anyway a group of friends over time were all thrown together for varying motivations. Some came early when it was a small group attached to Whitford Church, some plugged in later on. Some said early in the piece “this constitutes ‘church’ for me”, others said, “I will go to ‘real church’ on Sunday and come here on Wednesday”. Some said “if this is Church we need more ‘stuff'”. Still others suggested that if we added more ‘stuff’ they would not be comfortable.
Four or so years down the track and it feels a bit more formal than it did back in the begining, yet many still hold to a flexible dream, a loose…dare I say “organic” approach to church. No set leader, no building or fixed liturgy. We have a loose plan of what we will do each week and recently we have gone away on a … again, dare I say … strategic planning weekend!!!
Well it was a weekend at which we dreamed about who we were, what we were about, could we continue with such diversity of theology and opinion and issues and if we did what would it look like?
Well, we did not get through all of those things, but we did manage to discuss some very deep issues, personal issues deeply embedded in the very fabric of what church is (should be?) about.
How is this for one topic;
If I say our church is about “eating food together” as it’s base core value – anyone can come an feel welcome so long as they eat food…at some point in their life :) BUT it makes moving forward as a group and agreeing on some stuff difficult. Why, I might suggest we study the stories of Jesus, and ‘Abdul’ suggests that he came for the great food, not wanting to ever hear about Jesus.
So we lift the bar a notch and say our group is about loving God and loving others. Good, but what about the fact that any religious person could just about say ‘yes’ to that. So do we lift it higher? But the more we add, the more we restrict. We could go high and say we believe in a trinity God, that His will is revealed in the inerrant scriptures, that … you know?
So I am not telling where we ended, but I am telling you that it was a great ‘chat’!!
One thing that did come out of the weekend was a further 2 nights of discussion.
Night One - We asked on butchers paper the following questions;
- What do you see as our strengths, Weaknesses, Threats and Opportunities?
- At our best, what do we look like?
- At our worst what do we look like?
- What would you say are our core values? Practices?
- In your wildest dreams what do you see for The Joondalup Thing ?
Some great discussion flowed from that night and since.
Night Two – We asked (all, including kids) What would you like to see happen on our fortnightly Sunday gatherings?
There was some wonderful and creative expressions brought forward for our ‘gatherings’ on every second Sunday.
There is still a part of me that wants to ‘package’ this whole thing. For two reason I suggest;
1. So I can have it all neat and tied up with a string to simply give me (others?) boundaries so we know why we are, what we are and where we are going…but maybe God has much of that in hand and I should trust Him more for that rather than making it all up for Him and pretending He led me/us to do as such :)
2. So I can replicate it. I would love to ‘franchise’ this. That is a secular term for multiply, plant, replicate whatever. I just feel that something in there that we have is too good, or could be too good to keep to ourselves, even if it is just ‘the love of God’…I guess people have been trying to ‘package’ that for 2000 years and look where that has got us!! But I would love to see small ‘organic’ relational groups/churches who are committed to loving God and others, following Christ and making a Kingdom difference all over the shop.
Anyway, where are we at? I think we all agree that we are a group of committed friends that dare take up the radical call to live out the Kingdom of God on Earth as taught by Jesus of the Gospels in the midst of the empire! [thanks Lance!]
We will keep working on something like that and see what happens hey?