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Monday, September 29, 2003

So I am half-baked. I don't know where I belong in the postmodern/modern/little c church/big c church debate.
I know I want community. I know I want kingdom living. I also (think I) agree with Todd Hunter that the particular little-c-church model is not the most determining factor in community or kingdom living:
"But, the people I most admire and respect in life are not focused on church as a place, event or thing. They just quietly participate in non-descript churches and submit themselves to be used by God, to be ambassadors of his Kingdom in those communities of faith as everywhere else in there their life: no dualisms. "
If I am totally sold out for God, living my whole life before Him, then that will lead to good stuff no matter what model church I am in. Am I there? Not by a long shot. But I want to be. So much.

As far as church models - I simply don't think there is a one-size-fits-all approach (even though when I read the Rembrandts paper (see further down), my heart just goes "Yes!!" (well, on most points, anyways, LOL))
When we talked to a Chinese friend of ours, he didn't want to come to small group. We took him to the Vineyard - he didn't care for that either. Even though he had never been to a Christian church, he had a certain model in his mind of what that should look like - and that is what he wanted. He is now going to a Baptist church. Should we have pushed him into a small group/house church model that he had no interest in (even though we think that is the "right" way to do church)? Or love him, build relationship with him, share Jesus with him, and then when he wanted to get him in touch with a church that fit him (even if it isn't our "style"?)

Mark Priddy talks in his Rembrandt Community paper about the fact that there should be no forced intimacy, that some people need to first observe at arms length. (Excellent reading, by the way.)
Is it possible that for some people a smaller group is already too close? That their need for space at first is best served in a fairly anonymous, large setting?
I have to say that I was really surprised at how many honest-truth, previously non-churched people I have met at the Vineyard here. There are many things I am questioning, but in the VCF 101 classes (one we attended, one we led the small group discussion) fully half of our group was not "wanderers" from other churches, but people with no previous interest in church, who had been reached out to in various ways, and there they were. Some of them pretty rough around the edges, but there they were. In no other church I have been at have I seen that large a group - in our previous Vineyard, the number of true "converts" in 10 years could be numbered on one hand (and you wouldn't need all fingers...) So they must be doing something right, and some people must be served well by that model to come in the door when they wouldn't come otherwise...

I think the problem comes in afterwards. How to you get people to grow and mature unless they are self-motivated in a church that size? No one even knows you are there if you don't make yourself known. If we are to "spur each other on in love and good deeds" I make it sorta impossible for other to "spur" me if I just show up on Sunday, and no one knows where I am at, how I am doing, or even that I exist.....unless I seek that out somehow.

I am totally enthralled with Vineyard Central's model right now - small communities of faith, but with enough ties between them to enable different ministries, and the occassional big-group meeting (I have to admit I LOVE worshipping together with several hundred people at the same time, and I love worshiping in small maybe this for me would be the best of two worlds??)
I think my ideal model (where I am at right now) would look a lot like that - with maybe large meetings monthly instead of quarterly, and maybe some more "frontage road/check out the traffic on the freeway before getting on" type activities that you can bring people to that aren't interested in the small communties yet (like the cafe)............but I think they got the right idea.
Anyways, I am just thinking and turning things around in my head, and I am making myself woozy - I am sure I have a whole bunch of knots in my brain....
But questions are good, right?

posted by Birgit
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