Posted by: jadanzzy | September 27, 2007

A Snippet of The Story

I have the fortunately unfortunate privilege of starting this blog with a nervous first step. I’m excited to see how this blog develops, forms, ebbs and flows, and blesses the minds and hearts of its readers. As is stated in the vision section of this blog, the authors of this blog don’t have much to offer in the way of scholarship and expertise. What we have to offer, however, is a groaning desire to seek out faithful forms of Christian living and faith in this 21st century culture, whatever the culture implies. We hope to get more authorship and guest contribution as the blog progresses so please keep your eyes (even ears) open!

Now, in relation to this blog, I’ve been thinking: is this group blog (and other Christian group blogs) a faithful expression of church in our technologically-minded, global, instantaneous, postmodern culture today?

Just this week, a group of us read through the famous (infamous) Acts 2 passage where a snapshot of how the community of early Christians lived immediately after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. Mindful of their agrarian and even provincial background, I allowed scripture speak to me as purely as possible, knowing that I have a tendency to want scripture to fit what I think is biblical.

I saw many actions that seemed almost too good to be true for any human society. Was this a uniquely special time when the people of Jesus were breathing (literally and figuratively) the same air of Christ so as to experience fellowship in a historically unique way? Was it that they were in the midst of the apostles who knew clearly what fellowship should have looked like? Was it because of the “magic tricks?” was it that their culture and society allowed for specific hospitable actions, such as seeing each other everyday, establishing a pool of goods for anyone who had need, that would be impossible for us today? And on and on…

I digress. What stuck out most in my mind was the communal nature of this new body of Christ. There was unity. There was devotion to each other. There was devotion to the life and message of Jesus Christ as was taught by the apostles. And most importantly, the family of Jesus was growing. There was engagement of the heart, soul and mind in the way of Jesus. This was/is church.

So, too, here is where I imagine church can be faithfully and truthfully expressed in a way that pleases the Lord. I even hope people come to saving and partnering faith in Jesus through this blog. A blog is church? Why not? We live in a radically different culture than the first churches. sure, the fallenness of humanity is the same. the sinfulness of man has not changed. But I believe the Holy Spirit is sympathetic to the progression (or regression?, however you look at it) of humanity.

So, let’s do church!

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Responses

  1. Thanks for this encouraging post. A question, if I may: I thought it was interesting in the end of your post that you used church as a verb as opposed to a proper noun with a capital C, which is how we tend to refer to the universal Church. For you, what does it mean to “do church”? And then, based on your definition, how do you think this blog can be a way in which we do church?

    I thought it was interesting in Scott McKnight’s lecture at Westminster, that he was very wary about calling the emerging movement a church. Why do you think this is? Is church a sacred term that should only be used in reference to something specifically delineated in the Bible? Should we be similarly careful in calling specific people groups, gatherings and indeed, group blogs, churches? Or can we find freedom in a lose, less-specific definition of the term?

  2. What it means to “do church” for me is when 2 or 3 or many gather in Jesus for the purposes of enjoying each other in Jesus and enjoying Jesus with each other. Now “gather”-ing has one major understanding. It assumes physical, geographical centrality. I believe that the physical gathering of church (the ekklesia) in any form under the banner of Christ is more ideal. However, I hope that many virtually gather here for an exchange of ideas, thoughts, feelings under the banner of Christ. Therefore, this is just another expression of Church.

    I think McKnight (Scot, btw) is wary because of the cultural connotations of what the word “church” has come to mean. It assumes uniformity, rather than unity. it assumes specificity. and it implies an existence of borders. This is why “emerging conversation” is much more appropriate.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with multiple definitions of church, according to the context. I think what matters most, is that it is the community (transcendent of geography, formed practice, structured liturgy, or tight orthodoxy) of the called out ones of Jesus, and all “local churches” must submit to that.

  3. I’m all for doing church, and also for having church.

  4. I believe that church can exist wherever there is a community, but I also believe in using vernacular speech. =) Church conjures references to buildings, steeples, weddings, communion. Vacation Bible School. We are wary of being dismissive of church as a cultural phenomenon, but I don’t think it’s wrong to recognize what is naturally occurring. Churches, like everything else that’s ever happened through human history, are cultural and contextual.

    Can “church” happen in the context of a blog? In a sense, I think so, as you’ve described. There’s a community of believers that points each other to Christ, that spends time in the company of those who have encountered Christ and behold the Lamb together. These activities are certainly not constrained to the structured institution of church.

    But in another sense altogether, and you touched on this note in a tangential musing (before you “digressed”), I think it’s important to beware characterizing church in a deconstructionalist way, as a matter of freedom and a lack of structure. Rather, church is a celebration of diversity in the dynamic quality of that structure.

    In that sense, Acts 2 should be considered a model from the way the Spirit was moving in that context, but I think it’s easy to become neo-traditionalist or fascinated with what was, as you say, perhaps simply behavior rooted in the culture.

    I can say this: churches around the world are beautiful to me because the Holy Spirit uses the cultural fabric of each people group as the Play-Doh that creates a moment in which a passing form of church can be seen in that context. Yet, because it is God Himself, the God of the galaxies, the infinite Lord of hosts… it is recognizable. This is why missions is so exciting; I get a kick out of transnational missions where I can SEE GOD WORK and be astounded by the diverse forms of church. Loving Him in different ways, redeeming different areas of culture into transformed praise, holding the Lord’s Day worship in infinitely diverse ways to bear witness to an infinite King…

    To that end, I too am excited at the possibility for 21st century citizens of the highest echelon of technological allegiance, that perhaps this CAN be part of the evolution of church, the continuing story of redemptive history. And the participants here, forging a community… in Christ. It’s not so weird after all.

    By the way, for interesting reference:
    http://internet-churches.com/purpose.htm

  5. These are some great thoughts — thanks for sharing.

    I have found the blogosphere to be a great source of community and friendship. Here, I have found kinship and engaged in conversations I would not find in our local church community. I am not complaining about that, though. The beauty of the local church is that it is for everyone, in whatever state they arrive (and whether they care about the same things I care about or not).

    These digital connections have not only allowed me to find friendship with like-minded people in far-flung places, but have also informed my relationships with those in my present community. The church here, there and everywhere 🙂

    There is something unique about connecting with people in face-to-face interaction, however. DJ Chuang referenced this in passing during his presentation at The Gathering this past week in So Cal. Someone asked him for a business card, I believe, and he replied by saying he didn’t have any because he was all-digital. But, he noted, he was actually right there with us that day.

    I appreciate your insights into understanding the cultural perspective/worldview at work in the people who lived with Jesus vs. how we might see the world today. Interpreting and living out Scripture is not always as simple a proposition as, “Identify the principle and do it.”

  6. […] with some questions About the dimensions Of church, even in virtual space. Connecting to Otherkin, the people discoverin’ that they are a whole […]


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