My intensive reading course on community related topics continues and I am learning a ton. Not sure yet how I will put it all together but I think that it is the most important topic I have tackled for years. Over the last 2 weeks I have read 2 books that I think are extremely important in this discussion and are must reads for anyone grappling with what it means to be and do church in today’s context. Both of them are from the UK where people are much more aware that we live in a post Christendom world and need to rethink what it means to be God’s followers based on that fact.
Ian Mobsby’s The Becoming of God, is an excellent book in which the author explores new ways of being Christian community based on his understanding of the Tritarian nature of God who comes to us as Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. The Trinity is described as three persons who dwell in one another in a way that expresses a profound sense of fellowship without hierarchy or authoritaritism. God is characterized by unity in the midst of diversity, perfect love, justice and interdependency which is poured out and expressed through the creation of all that is in the Cosmos.
This view obviously has enormous consequences for human kind. All of us are made in the image of God – an image of creativity, interdependence and unity expressed in diversity. Mobsby goes on to discuss the Moot community and its grappling with these issues. I was particularly impacted by his thoughts on Rule or Rhythm of life
This Rhythm of Life is an innovative way of expressing the Christian fiath in the context of contemporary culture… As people encounter Christians living out profound expressions of the fiath through God’s love, they encounter the depth of a loving Christian community and expreience God as their ‘Ground of being’ through worship, mission and community…. t is in thiese participative and loving Christian communities that people can encounter the reality of the Christian story of the Holy trinity, not as hypothetical truth, but as a profound reality, clueing us in as to how we should live.
The other is Church After Christendom, by Stuart Murray. in which the author makes proposals for the development of a way of being church suitable for a post-denominational, post-commitment and post-Christendom era. He states that whereas during Christendom believing (often forced) was necessary in order to belong, in a post Christendom world belonging will often precede believing. He talks about the need to develop what he calls centred-set communities which have a definite centre, comprising non-negotiable core convictions towards which members of the community are journeying. These become the focus around which the community gathers, they shape the community and free it to be inclusive, hospitable and open to others who are journeying in the same direction.
The biblical story involves a distinctive community within creation… modelling an alternative vision and living by different values. If members of this community are to remain distinctive in an alien environment they need to be gathered as well as dispersed. Community-building practices and processes are essential. So too is coroprate worship, in which the community rehearses the biblicals story, rekindles its vision of a renewed creation and prays for the coming of God’s kingdom.