on church

Today I was reading Chris Brogan’s description of the spirit of PodCamp. While I was reading, something clicked in my thinking about church.

But before I get there, PodCamp is a conference about podcasting which is free, at which everyone is an expert (or a superhero, as Chris would say), at which all of the sessions are planned and presented by people who are sharing their expertise, at which stars and novices are side by side, at which the goal is to meet other people and learn from them, at which the ideal infrastructure is negligible.

There are only five rules:

  1. All content created must be released under a Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/
  2. All attendees must be allowed to participate. (subject to limitations of
    physical space, of course)
  3. All sessions and events must be free of charge to attend.
  4. The event must be new-media focused.
  5. The financials of a PodCamp must
    be fully disclosed in an open ledger, except for any donor/sponsor who wishes to
    remain anonymous.

As I was reading this morning, Chris was talking about everyone needing to own responsibility. If you spill something, clean it up. If you see something someone else spilled, clean it up. If you see a need, meet it, because at a PodCamp, EVERYONE is the conference.

So I started thinking about church. Too often, when people talk about the church, as in, “that’s awful, the church should do something about that”, what is meant is, “the paid staff should do something about that.” But the more I am reading and thinking and praying these days, I am increasingly concerned that if we are depending on the paid staff to be the church, then at least one church of which I am part of the paid staff is in trouble.

I can’t be the church. I don’t want to be the church. We’d be a really bad and limited and boring and ineffective and unbalanced organism if I was the church. Just like a PodCamp, EVERYONE is the church.

In fact, even as I was thinking, I looked at 1 Corinthians 14:26 where Paul is talking about how worship should happen:

Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize what I am saying. When you meet, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in an unknown language, while another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must be useful to all and build them up in the Lord.

There is incredible diversity and unity in these gatherings of the body. There should be great freedom for involving people. And there needs to be the acknowledgement that even the leaders, the most experienced, can be and should be servants, should be alongside.

Of course, in the way that a PodCamp needs to be new media focused, a church needs to be Christ-focused. Other kinds of gatherings can exist, but they aren’t church.

No one ends up owning the results, they are part of the community.

I’ll have to come back to this, but I wanted to get it out for interaction and comments, because, that’s how community works. And one of the big questions I have is this: there is great excitement and freedom and energy and equality in the first PodCamp. But by the 6th one, will structure begin to creep in and, as a result, will it become a religion? I ask this NOT actually about PodCamp, but about church. The first year in a new place is pretty exciting. By the 100th year, is there any way at all to maintain or to foster or to reinvigorate the freedom and flexibility?

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7 responses to “on church

  1. i think in part this comes back to relationships and discipling one another. we have to stop looking at the church as what happens on Sunday morning. We have to start making time for one another outside of the building and we have to start having deeper conversations than how are you. And as we who ARE having those conversations begin to experience the power and presence of God we need to spread it among those God places in our path, we need to share our stories and start involving ourselves in the stories of others. The only way, i think to reinvigorate the church is one person at a time – a groundswell, a grassroots movement.

    Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in you hearts to God.

    No way is this talking about what happens sunday morning. in fact, maybe we should be looking at what happens on sunday morning as a re-charge so that we can go out and do this for another week.

  2. i should have said no way is this JUST talking about sunday morning

  3. Pingback: Cruciformity » Blog Archive » What Should It Look Like?

  4. So I’m thinking about the differences and similarities. And so this is a note to myself. God is not open source. We don’t get to reinvent him. And what He said isn’t up for grabs. But what we say that he said or what we wish he had said because it would make us more comfortable, that’s different.

  5. So that comes back to truth. No matter what we do, what programs we put in place, how we go about accomplishing the great commission personally and corporately, we must never, never compromise our commitment to truth.

  6. This may seem like a very mundane insertion into this conversation, but I’m leaving it here anyway because I struggle with it. I wrote this question down on my bulletin after a recent overview session of children’s ministries in our church, in particular after a plea for people to work in our nurseries and children’s churches, and after a bit of a verbal exchange about expectations for where people will minister/serve: “What if what we are doing (programming) is not Biblical?” Not being Biblical in what we do could definitely get in the way of us being the Church…what a concept.

    Along these lines, I’ve also thought recently that sometimes, what we do or the way we do it, structurally/organizationally speaking, is because we are human. Removing some of the structures that keep us moving along, even if that movement is ultimately to our detriment, would force us to truly “walk in the Spirit.” Would that feel like life without training wheels? Can’t keep training wheels forever, but to get from them to the freedom that comes without them, I have to be willing to feel really shaky or scared or maybe even fall down. Could we ever come to that place corporately or does it have to be, as Anna said, one person at a time?

  7. The first year in a new place is pretty exciting. By the 100th year, is there any way at all to maintain or to foster or to reinvigorate the freedom and flexibility?

    This question has special meaning to me because the church I attend will be celebrating 100 years since its founding just 5 years from now. In the last few years our church has had a sort of spiritual renaissance. This is due in part to our current rector, who reminds us of our purpose and obligations as Christ’s ambassadors on Earth. It’s also due in part to our congregation just being full of praying, caring people who lead by example.

    So our church has grown a lot in the last 7 years – every Sunday there are new people I don’t recognize. But the continued reminders to reach out, participate, and help out make the congregation still feel like a family.