Archive for the 'Understanding Context' Category

Community, Missional, Understanding Context

Veritas- A Missional Community of Authentic Worshippers

Some of you may know that in September of ’09 my wife and I will be taking our Veritas ministry from a ministry of Hempfield COB to a Church Plant. We currently have 8 total people on our core group and are still looking for some more. If you know of someone in the Lancaster area who might be interested, let me know. Also if you would like to be on our prayer team, let me know.

The title line above is our vision, mission, and core values statement. Over the next 2 days I will share with you the driving force behind Veritas as we move forward into Church Planting. Today I will focus on the first core value that is describe in the word community.

Our First Core Value is A Safe Spiritual Search: A Community where people experience genuine love and care. We see Jesus with the woman at the well, showing her love, grace and acceptance. Despite what society said about this woman, he cared for her in a very real and profound way, which changed her life for all of eternity. So we picture Christ-followers loving each other and the world around them. We picture safe places to seek truth where questions, doubts and struggles are okay and something to be shared, not hidden. We picture Christ-followers and those who are yet to be Christ-followers in close relationship with each other. We picture a community full of love, grace, compassion, and mercy, following in Jesus’ footsteps. For this to happen, we see people gathered in homes in the Marietta, Elizabethtown and Columbia area on a weekly basis. We see gathering around tables during these gatherings to eat together, pray together, share together, and be in relationship with each other. We see open and honest dialogue centered around the Scriptures. We see people gathering together not just once a week but throughout the entire week. We see people exercising together, going out to movies and dinner together, hanging out with each other, and spending time together.

Tomorrow I will focus on another word in our vision statement, the word missional.

Change!?!, Leadership, Missional, Third Places, Understanding Context

Don’t Miss the Dialogue….

I know it is a rare thing here… but a GOOD thing and a thing I hope happens a LOT more!  Some good dialogue took place under the radar back in July and August… you can find it in the “Third Places” category under Jeff’s “Thanks Starbucks” post.  Jump in…   Thanks Jonathan and Mike for carrying on a bit of a conversation here…  I am interested in hearing other thoughts on the points you raise.  And when I have more time… not sure when that will be!  I will check out Jonathan’s dissertation link!

Uncategorized, Understanding Context

Surreal Experience

“My First allegiance is not to a flag, a country, or a man. My first allegiance is not to democracy or blood. It’s to a king and a kingdom”- Derek Webb “A King and a Kingdom”

The other week as I was on vacation I was reading these words on the page of the book Jesus for President. My wife and I and our two kids were vacationing for a few days at Virginia Beach before heading to Richmond for the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference. As I sat on the balcony of our hotel room reading Shane Claiborne’s book (which is all about justice, peace, the empire, etc..) I heard a rumbling noise from the air. At least once every hour a military jet (or two or three) came flying overhead making a ton of noise.

I kept thinking, “How much money is being spent on these flights? How much does jet fuel cost? How much of my taxes are going to fund the machines of war?” I tell you what… it was a surreal experience to read about the kingdom of God and the desire that God has for his people to be people of peace and to hear the war jets flying overhead.

Change!?!, Understanding Context

By the Manner of their Living?

So I was googling “Brethren Ordinances” recently and this popped up as choice #5. It’s a picture on Flickr of a horse and buggy underneath a Wells Fargo bank sign in Shipshewana, IN (a very Amish town). The guy captioned the picture by saying something about there being a lot of Church of the Brethren congregations around and so when he looked them up online he was really impressed with what it shared on wikipedia—he linked the whole article! =)

One of the comments to the picture said: “Ironic-I was just reading about the Church of the Brethren a few weeks ago. Considering how many times I have been to Shipsee I thought it was high time I learn a little about the people. It is all very interesting.”

See the image linked here:

As our church youth group prepares to lead worship on Sunday with the theme of “By the manner of their living–” an Alexander Mack quote– I wonder just how the CoB is recognized in 2008. Is it our non-conformity, the manner of our living and loving, the building of authentic community, peacemaking? What niche are you finding in your various communities– not just for the sake of outreach and evangelism, but because of truly living God’s call to mission?

Change!?!, Community, Everything Must Change (McLaren), Understanding Context

What Story Does Your Congregation Live By?

In Brian McLaren’s book, Everything Must Change, he writes about “framing stories” and the effects they have on groups and societies (Chapter 9, pp. 65-73). A framing story is that which we tell ourselves and follow in life. He writes on page 67, “If our framing story is wise, strong, realistic, and constructive, it can send us on a hopeful trajectory. But if our framing story is dysfunctional, weak, false, unrealistic, or destructive, it can send us on a downward arc, a dangerous, high-speed joyride through un-peace, un-health, un-prosperity, and even un-life.“.

I think another way to think about the definition of a framing story is, what is the vision that created the group and guides it today.

The idea of a “framing story” is challenging to consider. Our founding fathers, who wrote the Declaration of Independence, certainly began framing our story as a nation. This framed story guides our justice system, I think, more than the other two branches of our government today.

As I read more about the concept of a “framing story”, it made me wonder about congregations, and their framing story. How does their story get started? How does the original framed story impact their lives today? How many are aware of their congregation’s framing story? How can understanding their story impact their future in positive ways? How do they work at re-framing their story, so that it remains relevant to their participants and inviting to new people?

I think so often we follow the script of our framing story almost unconsciously. Thus, it guides us without our consciously reflecting upon, “Is this where we want/need to go?”.

One of the things that excites me about the Emergent Church is their passion for following Christ pushes them to reframe their congregation’s story. Or, in the case of church planting, frame a new story for people to be guided by.

If you’re in an established church, do you know your congregation’s “framing story” is? What are some of the ways that you think your congregation’s “framing story” guides it today? Are you satisfied with it, or desire a new story to follow?

What story does your congregation live by?


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