I have a new home on the web: nathanjunker.com Come visit sometime.
“We mostly spend [our] lives conjugating three verbs: to want, to have, and to do. Craving, clutching and fussing, we are kept in perpetual unrest.” -Evelyn Underhill
I would have liked to see this reality show. Five men from secular lifestyles enter into a Benedictine monastery and follow the strict timetable of instruction, study, prayer, reflection and routine work duties. They include a producer of trailers for a sex chat line, a painter/decorator with a criminal past, a high-earning bachelor, PhD in Buddhism student, and a retired poet and teacher. If what these guys experienced changed their lives, what do you think would happen to a believer who entered into this lifestyle? Is it possible for Christians to rediscover this kind of life today? It seems to me that the emerging church is trying to bring monastic-like practices to the everyday Christian.
“…the restoration of the church will surely come only from a new type of monasticism which has nothing in common with the old but a complete lack of compromise in life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount in the discipleship of Christ. I think it is time to gather people together to do this…” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I believe I am becoming a pacifist. I have always been uncomfortable with war and the pain and suffering it brings, but have thought that it was necessary at times. While I still think that for the most part, I am encountering material on pacifism. Right now I am reading “Passion for Peace” by Thomas Merton, a collection of social essays written during the Cold War. Maybe my draw towards pacifism may be a prayer of Francis of Assissi’s that I pray every other day:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
This past Saturday at Faith in Prayer (biweekly prayer meeting) we prayed for our Sr. Pastor and his wife who had been at the BGC conference the past week. Some of the prayers were for the Conference–the speakers, attendees, and decisions. However, the whole thing had already finished and Pastor K. had already returned home.
This brings up the question of Prayer and Time. Can/Should we pray for events that are completed? God is timeless, so this should be acceptable, maybe even encouraged. I know a lady who prayed for someone long after they had died because she had never heard of the death. Were all those prayers wasted? I think not. However, I think there are some important factors influencing our prayers for past events. 1) You must believe that your prayers are still effective and God in his foreknowledge, omniscience, omnipotence can bring about change, in the past, as a result of your present prayers. 2) Knowledge of those past events affects how you pray, to the extent that you can’t pray for something to change twhen you already know what did or did not happen.
The emerging church conversation deals with the question of renewing the Church so that it lives out its mission in/as the Kingdom of God. The “how” is much harder than the “why” or “what”. Many have taken the idea of a new monasticism and formed communities of house churches.
As one who ministers in a church, that isn’t a viable option. However, most if not all in my church congregation have no idea of the conversation and don’t see the need to change, at least not at the level of creating new paradigms. So what am I to do? How do I introduce renewal? Of course, I am not talking about aesthetic features as some have misunderstood what’s happening. If it starts with me, I must set the example.
- Prayer and worship: These must prevade my life at every level, becoming the driving force for every action no matter how mundane.
- Authenticity: I must be real with others, sharing doubts, frustrations, and struggles with temptations.
- I must be living out my mission in the world, seeking out the needy and meeting them where they’re at.
I have been interested of late in the emerging church. As one who grew up in the church I relate with many of those who are hungering for something deeper and wider. However, many are unaware of this movement or conversation that is happening on the fringes of the Church, in small house churches and creative urban ministries. So here are a few descriptions that I have found helpful:
1. Re-centering on the kingdom of God.
2. Engaging culture with out a sacred and secular distinction.
3. Communal: Faith as communal experience.
4. Listening to the outsider.
5. Serving those in need without ulterior motives.
6. Involving participants in worship.
6. Valuing Creativity/Arts.
7. Leading through networks than top down hierarchies.
8. Ancient and Avant Garde
1. Having a high threshold for membership
(high expectations for believers)
2. Being real, not real religious
(being transparent, authentic, with one foot in “the world.”)
3. Teaching to obey rather than to know
(a practical faith)
4. Rewriting worship every week
(Creative, participatory Sunday morning services)
5. Living apostolically
(each believer as a missionary)
6. Expecting to change the world
(aggressively engaged in transforming communities)
7. Ordering actions according to purpose.
(Ruthless aligning of resources with mission)
8. Measuring growth by capacity to release rather than retain.
(Not megachurches but multiplying churches)
9. Placing kingdom concerns first
(in contrast to denomination first. Thus, cooperation with other churches)
Barry Steinman has an interesting point: "Staring at the back of someone's head for 90 minutes on a Sunday morning is not my idea of fun. I do not understand how staring at the back on someone's head has anything to do with fellowship."
How do we practice the "one anothers" if the only time we dedicate to them is before and after the official meeting of the church? True, fellowship does happen in those times, but what if more of the service was dedicated to face-to-face interaction? True fellowship requires deep, authentic communication, so much more than the small talk fluff that is called fellowship in the church today.
Ephesians 4:11 describes those who equip the church for their mission. They are: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Kairos has taken those terms and renamed them, breathing new life into them and making them more relevant for today.
- Apostle = Dream Awakener
- Prophet = Heart Revealer
- Evangelist = Story Teller
- Pastor = Soul Healer
- Teacher = Light Giver
A Dream Awakener helps people discover and live out their calling.
A Heart Revealer helps people connect to God and calls them to action.
A Story Teller tells the good news story to people and culture.
A Soul Healer helps people become more whole.
A Light Giver helps people immerse and live in the Bible.
Accountability. Small Groups. The key to spiritual growth or a waste of time? Do you want me involved in your life? Do you really want to know what I think about how you're living and the choices you're making? Then it's up to you to share what is really going on in your life. The same goes for me. Scary, isn't it? Can we really be authentic with one another? Do we have the courage to let each other know that we're struggling? Do you trust me? Can I trust you?