Tag Archives: community

Two easy ways to recognize social cohesion in church communities

1. A sudden shift in a newcomer’s interaction style (social insight has been conveyed to the newcomer).

2. A change in facial expressions from ministerial spouses (pillow talk about workaday aggravations).

A key to questioning the “fruits of the Spirit” and “spiritual growth” is to notice social consensus maintains a greater value than loving enemies or neighbors.

In other words, human social groups act like human social groups, regardless of the particular shibboleth.

If we are stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, then the accuracy or the particulars of the stories aren’t so important as the social consensus that carries them.

An unconventional observation brings about fear because of both its implications about the nature of the social group and its threat to acceptance by the tribe.


If you forgive someone, do you have to hang out with that person? Continue reading

Sharing health-care costs, carrying each other’s burdens

Here’s an interesting way to go about health-care coverage:

Rebecca Gertner believes her faith will help pay the medical bills. That’s why every phone call with her health care representative ends the same.

“We pray to remember that God is in control and not to worry about the bills,” Gertner said.

Gertner signed up with Medi-Share, part of Christian Care Ministry in Florida, and one of several faith-based health care sharing ministries across the country. Bill sharing, they believe, is rooted in scripture such as Galatians 6:2. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the laws of Christ.”

Gertner lives in Sacramento, Calif., with her husband, Luke, a pastor at Hillsdale Boulevard Baptist Church, and she home schools their three children. Their small evangelical congregation does not offer employees health insurance.

So she asked friends and family about their coverage. Her mother-in-law told her about a plan where members share medical costs and religious beliefs.

An estimated 100,000 people across the country belong to these ministries, according to industry experts. While small, it’s a growing alternative to traditional health care insurance.

Promoted at churches and on TV, health care sharing programs have been around for decades and are more common in the South.

Read the entire article: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/06/16/2953930/christian-health-sharing-plans.html#ixzz1PS7ZRFmN

If your pastor gets tired of your questions, leave your church

Unhealthy communities demand submission and avoid serious questions by providing thought-killing cliches in place of honest answers.

Thanks to Ray Ortlund for reviving this quotation from the late Francis Schaeffer:

“But someone will say, ‘Didn’t Jesus say that, to be saved, you have to be as a little child?’ Of course he did. But did you ever see a little child who didn’t ask questions? People who use this argument must never have listened to a little child or been one. My four children gave me a harder time with their endless flow of questions than university people ever have. . . . What Jesus was talking about is that the little child, when he has an adequate answer, accepts the answer. He has the simplicity of not having a built-in grid whereby, regardless of the validity of the answer, he rejects it.” — Francis A. Schaeffer, “Form and Freedom in the Church,” International Congress on World Evangelization, July, 1974.

One way to deal with contradictions in the Bible

Remember that the text is interpreted by the community. The community that values the text interprets the text. A church is a community centered around a mode of interpretation. Certain themes in the Bible get priority over others; certain passages are given special status as keys that unlock the rest of the book’s meaning.

The meaning, in this case, is not dependent upon complete agreement in all the data. For example, some people have argued that the discrepancies between the Gospels only elevate the points on which they agree. That’s a reasonable point. If you were researching a current topic, and all your sources disagreed on most points, then the points on which they agreed would be considered valid points.

The community probably won’t use this kind of hifalutin language! Still, if not implicitly, then passively, the community interprets the text within its communal life.

Good challenges for Trinity Church West Campus

The families-with-children of Carolina Forest are a likely demographic unit for Trinity Church‘s West Campus.

Often times, when young couples have children, they start to think about formative influences in their childhoods. Having kids causes a re-evaluation of that long-dusty church membership.

So inevitably, some of those Carolina Forest families will fit the following description from Stefan Ulstein’s introduction to his book Growing Up Fundamentalist: Journeys in Legalism and Grace. While Ulstein uses the term “boomers,” referring to the baby boomer generation, I think most of what follows is still applicable today — at least to those who once went to church and now wrestle with whether to return.

“The nagging problem that so many ex-fundamentalists face is that they cannot escape the legacy of their upbringing. They long for the sense of belonging brought about by the Christian fellowship and bonding that they experienced as children. They miss the warm assurances of a world with clearly defined right and wrong. They want it for their children. But they do not want the guilt, shame and self-righteous arrogance that came along with it. They do not want to set themselves against their children and society by taking an intractable stand on every issue only to discover later that they were wrong. Unlike their elders, who grew up with a sense of knowable truth, the boomers wrestle with multiple ambiguities. Their worldview stresses pragmatic solutions and emotional well-being. They eschew battles over dogma and doctrine and long for a community of believers who can be identified by their love for one another.”

In light of all that, it seems to me the good challenges for Trinity Church West Campus involve:

-Using fresh images and terms to describe Christ’s mercy and grace

-Building a genuine, healthy community

Other thoughts?

Jacques Ellul: A role for Christian community

“I have come more and more to consider that we all have a certain interpretation of revealed truth, but no one possesses it completely. We all ought to come together in such a way that we each may recognize in others what we lack in ourselves.” — Jacques Ellul, In Season, Out of Season