On Sunday we continued our “Vision Alignment” series talking about “Church.” After a time of eating together, prayer, reading scripture, and singing we watched this short video on “What is the Church.” Not that we agree with every comment in the video, but it opened the floor for a time of honest sharing, encouragement, and truth telling.
In the coming weeks we will be discussing the following topics: values and culture, Anglican distinctives, worship, and leadership. You can download our “roadmap to retreat” for more information.
Have you noticed the organic food craze that has been sweeping the United States for the past decade or two? As a kid growing up I never remembered seeing an “Organic” or “All Natural” label placed on the food my mom would put in the shopping cart. But people today are demanding that their food be grown without pesticides or artificial fertilizers and in an ethical and sustainable way. People are looking at the size of their chicken breasts and questioning if a chicken really should be the size of a turkey! You can blame the farmers all you want for this, but their livelihood depends on their crops. Furthermore, many of them have no other option due to industry pressure, other than to grow conventionally. Today the revolution in farming is to return to the ancient practices that have brought forth a safe harvest for millennia.
So what does this have to do with the church and church planting? People are tired of getting their spirituality super-sized and a drive-through window. Like the pressures of the agricultural industry there have been pressures on churches in all denominations to ascribe to business models of management, un-scriptural leadership techniques, manufactured sermons, financial pyramid schemes, marketing that is tacky and shallow, and a view of church growth that states “bigger is always better.” Like those people who question the way crops are grown and the size of chickens, there are some of us who are asking the question, “Has church always been like this?” Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not rallying against any specific church or denomination any more than I am rallying against any specific farmer. However, I am saying that ancient Christian practices are never more needed than they are today.
Perhaps the way forward for the church is to re-appropriate for today those ancient practices: daily prayer, weekly Eucharist, abiding in the church calendar, healing ministry, and radical hospitality. What if instead of one large farm in town, there were multiple smaller farms that worked together to grow crops that are sustainable for the community? What would it look like to plant churches that have a neighborhood feel, a deep spirituality, an outward focus to the broader community, and an unshakable love of God and neighbor?
I want to see what it would look like to grow such an organic church community in Medina. Where would we start? What does such a community look like? How do we grow a movement?