the weblog of Alan Knox

A more-than-Sunday community

Posted by on May 20, 2011 in blog links, community | 8 comments

A more-than-Sunday community

Since his family’s move a few months ago, Arthur from “The Voice of One Crying Out in Suburbia” has been chronicling their search for church and community. As he has explained many times, they are seeking a simple expression of church while maintaining relationships with those who are part of more institutional churches.

His latest post, “Simple church on Sunday is just the start,” is a very important step in this process.

Arthur understands that whatever form the church meeting takes on Sunday (or whatever day the church meets), one meeting per week will not develop community – at least, not the community and fellowship that we read about in the pages of the New Testament.

So, what does that mean? It means that Arthur understands that he and his family must spend time with believers throughout the week. And, guess what? Arthur gives us some examples of things he plans to do:

I don’t think that given the realities of life in America in the 21st century that community must precisely resemble the first century in every respect. Nor do I think that community will necessarily resemble more communal historical Christian groups like the Hutterites. So I think it will look quite different in different contexts. Where I live out in the country, perhaps we meet as families in one place or another on a regular basis (other than the Sunday meeting!). Maybe BBQ on a Saturday where we spend the day together. I am really interested in getting a Bible study going in our area, I know enough people to make it work. We already have a connection with a youth group that is not affiliated with a particular church that meets a lot. Even something as simple as intentional visits to other Christians would foster a sense of community. Of course having the weather lighten up would be nice, we have had almost ten inches of rain in the last month or so! Even out where we live I could see families buying property or houses near one another to increase proximity although a lot of us have more or less established roots so that may not be as feasible.

Later in the post, Arthur makes some suggestions for people living in more urban areas.

What are some other ways that you and your family have developed (or could develop) relationships with other believers near you?


8 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 5-20-2011

    Why do we focus so much on “meeting” all the time. The Church just IS, and is always alive no matter if we have a set meeting time.

    Why can’t we just live in community together and be in unity wherever we are?

    Why are we so hung up on making sure we have a scheduled meeting all the time?

    Whenever His Bride gathers together they show the world the Allness of God, no matter the schedule.

    Just venting.. probably no making any sense in my rambling.

    Swanny

  2. 5-20-2011

    Swanny,

    I’m not opposed to a group of believers deciding to get together specifically to do certain things (whether it is singing, praying, studying Scripture, etc.). However, I don’t see this kind of meeting as a full expression of what it means to be the church. It can be part of that expression, and even that kind of “meeting” should demonstrate our relationship with one another as family, our reliance on the Spirit, and our humility is letting one another speak or serve as God leads.

    In fact, I think Arthur’s post is getting at exactly what you described. Yes, have a meeting… but what else are you doing together as God’s family?

    -Alan

  3. 5-20-2011

    I agree with you. I have nothing against having a meeting or gathering. But, I have just read a lot lately where it seems that in order to be the church you MUST have a set meeting, and that is where I get confused.

    I feel the church just IS regardless of the set meeting.

    Should there be such emphasis on the set meeting, or should everyone that gathers just live life together in biblical community?

    I see living in unity like giving others “refigerator rights”. Anyone that is in our community can come in and grab something from my fridge anytime, and I can do the same at your place.

    If you want to set up a meal or fellowship time that is great. I see nothing wrong with that, and have had many wonderful get togethers.

    Just wondering if it should be emphasized so much in our structured culture?

    Can you tell I am confused by my writing… Swanny

  4. 5-21-2011

    Swanny,

    A large majority of Christians would not understand the church without a weekly meeting. Thus, that’s where I begin to teach… where most of my brothers and sisters are currently. I hope that makes sense.

    -Alan

  5. 5-22-2011

    Swanny! I wondered where that quart of milk we brought home yesterday went…

  6. 5-22-2011

    Swanny,

    More seriously… I (as many here, maybe all) share your desire to have the church act like the church. What EVER are they hesitating for? You have me thinking now (and forgive me for tediously thinking out loud)…

    I think you are piercingly accurate when you say “the church just is.” Amen! Yet, when we look around, well, frankly, no it isn’t. For some reason, this reminds me of seventh grade physics, when Mrs P started talking about potential energy and kinetic energy. I can still hear her, “You can’t see potential energy; kinetic energy is wow: hard to miss, kinda loud and obvious!” Substantially, Christian growth is learning to move from what God has declared to be (yet is presently–often–unseen), to it becoming evident to an onlooker.

    The basis of what is presently unseen ever coming to look like what God says it already is, is that God has said it already is. But the process, golly, can we describe the process?

    Maybe the transformative process is faith, a mixture of a kind of theatrical presumption to “act like it,” a kind of practical leap to “act on it,” and a kind of trust in God to “do it for us?” A faith that is a dance with two partners, God and us, one leading but for the dance to move, one following. Oh, yes I can mix metaphors (sorry)!

    Over and over the scriptures describe who we are in Christ, what God has done, and then they call on us to become so in practical, visible ways. That’s basically the macro outline of the epistles–God has done thus and so; now, act like it (and, act on it and let God do it in your life). What do these first baby steps look like? How is it that one child’s faith allows them to leap into the air when their Father beckons, knowing He will catch them, and another’s faith trembles, and reaches until its balance is in jeopardy and then pulls back? Eventually, to some of us brothers and sisters in the family, after a tortuously long time, the younger or more timid make their passage. But, the Father is just as pleased with both, and ever more patient with us than we children are with each other.

    Moreover, like potential energy, there is something restraining it from becoming kinetic. A brick sits on a shelf. Because we’re smart, and understand something about the universe God created, we declare it has potential energy from being lifted and set on this shelf. Pull the shelf away, and voila! Kinetic crash!

    Maybe the transformative process is also, then, a process of pulling away the restraint–or of allowing the restraint to be pulled away. I’ve often wondered about scripture’s use of the word “let” in this regard. Sometimes it is a call to take action, to make those leaps, to pull out from under ourselves the prop of the shelf: “let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.” (Rom 13:12) But other times, the word “let” seems to be a sort of passive permission to allow something to be done for us: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” (Eph 4:31)

    In any case, it is moving from an unseen potential energy we “know” is present to the unmistakable actions of kinetic energy; it is moving from what God has declared to be, to something demonstrably evident in our lives for all to see.

    You and I, Swanny, I think are leapers, and in that we are a bit like overbearing ex-smokers. Quit, Now! Alan (it seems to me, whether he himself is a leaper or a leaner), is more sensitive to the timid leaners who reach and withdraw, reach and withdraw and ultimately attain the same place. Frankly, I’m not completely comfortable with either of these approaches in their extreme. But for sure, most today–if they are doing so at all–are more timidly exploring what God beckons us towards as the church.

    While I think a key component of this process may be that composite of faith, faith itself is birthed in hearing and nurtured in relationship with God. So, while we must declare what God has declared, the advancement will result from people being cheered as they move from where they are at the pace of who they are, from their connecting with God so that they hear Him and begin to obey in things we might dismiss in our impatience as too little and insignificant, but which establish their confidence in our Father’s love and wisdom, step by step. David fought first bears and lions, and by the time he faced Goliath, his confidence in God was established.

    And, it isn’t all in one chunk, in a single area, anyway. God is molding us each and collectively into the image of His dear Son. A zillion areas of who and how we are. To be honest, while there are areas I may have leapt where others have not yet begun to lean, there are areas they long ago gladly snuggled into His arms where I’m only beginning to hear a whisper. Maybe leaners need courage, but leapers need to recall God is God and tremble again.

  7. 5-23-2011

    Art,

    thanks for the milk and the post… it has my head gears a churnin’

    Your leaper in Christ, Brian

    Alan,

    It makes sense to have a meeting, I am for that to get others acquainted, but as time goes on I feel the emphasis of the meeting disappears and the gathers just live life together.

    I am never saying a right or a wrong on this issue, just learning.

  8. 5-23-2011

    Yes, Art and Swanny… thanks for continuing this discussion!

    -Alan