As you know, my family participates in home church, but occasionally a few of us attend other local church events to learn, experience and grow. We attended a gathering of Followers 2 weeks ago that was very fresh. They were gathered in attempts to imulate a first century church experience like that of the New Testament (like we do, but a little bit larger group with a very specific ministry). The desire for the "church" was: for everyone to have open access to all parts of church (to question things, to figure out how things work and why and how), that all things are free, that people should be judged by their fruit only (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) and not by any external, to allow and be radically transparent, to decentralize leadership because accumulating power (wealth, hierarchy) is contradictory to Christ, to represent a Christian community by being honest and beautiful (to include the arts in their worship and life), to attempt to change the world for the better because God's love is justice. I must also point out that saying 'everyone has a voice, so speak up' means that everyone's voice has influence, so words should be chosen carefully.
We sang Sacred Heart style (which means as loudly and vulnerably as you can) the Trishagion. Then, because it was the groups first time to meet, we all went around and shared what "church" means to us or we feel is important to "church". There were some wonderful thoughts and quotes! Here's a few:
1. church doesn't have to be formal. a conversation exalting Christ with a brother or sister can be church.
2. it's important for people to try to have open ears and not be easily offended, but attempt to see through eyes of love.
3. worship through diversity is impactful. knowing that you are surrounded by people in the world who don't speak the same language or come from the same culture, but that are driven by one foundation (Christ) is beautiful and we should embrace that.
4. Church is the most beautiful and most compromised thing he'd ever known, and he would love to leave, but where would he go?
5. Church is people being open and sharing. Much like an AA meeting. We are all recovering from sin.
6. Church should be family. Church should be without fear. Church should be safe. Church should be an interaction with the heart of God.
7. In the New Testament, we know only that the church gathered, sang, listened, taught, and ate.
8. Church should do unto the least of these.
9. In America it is difficult to identify yourself as a community rather than an individual. I would love the church to help me identify myself as a people rather than a person.
10. I believe in the Bible. I believe in all kinds of things. But the only thing that has ever changed me is: Being loved. Over time.
11. I think church should be a snapshot of heaven.
12. The church is a whore, but she is my mother.
13. The church is a conspiracy of people who have dreams and need each other to make our dreams come true.
Some of this stuff is precious and rings truth in my ears. Some of it, I'm not so sure about. I would love to hear any reactions or thoughts...