Hmmm... lets see. It won't look much different, except we will have a duality in the church. We'll have the main church, which has the mass on Sunday and the regular prayer times. In addition to that, the church will invest in other property, where it will build a coffee shop and book store combo. There, they will create a worship space that is reminiscent of how things were done in the earliest of church times. Rites of passage will be important. Rites such as becoming a catechumen first. This creates another level where people are discipled into the church before they ever get Baptized. It is something that has been lost that needs to be regained by the church. Discipleship should take place BEFORE becoming a full member of the community. AND, that's missional.
After that, they will be slowly introduced to the main church through devotions. Taize style worship/prayer meetings. Morning and Evening Prayer (mostly Evening Prayer) with contemporary styles of music included with Gregorian, Byzantine and Anglican chant, as well as the great hymns. They will be introduced to the mystery that is Christ and the church. Finally, after going through all of this, they will be introduced into the main worship of the church, the Mass. All this time, they are being discipled by a dedicated member of the church staff. It will be a sort of Staretz relationship, where the discipler will become for that time the spiritual guide of the catechumen. At the end of all of this, they are Baptized into the church and given their first communion. It'll be important to keep Communion as a mystery right up until the time of their first taking of it. That's how the early church drew them in, with the mystery of the Body and Blood of Christ.
After they become a part of the community, they will be taught to teach others in the way they have been taught, so that the growth will perpetuate. But not to build a 2000 member church, but to reach as many people as possible with the Gospel of the Christus Victor... the victorious Christ who put down the powers of evil.
I could add more, but that is a whetting of your appetites.
I appreciate everything you have said on this topic. Your post reminds me of the restoration of the Catechumenate in the RCC, which is something that I agree we should take a serious look at. Such a focus in the Church provides the care, relationality, and incarnational aspect of the Church's love and care for those who are seeking a deeper knowledge of, and relationship with, Christ.
It also provides the proper education, and also, the mystery needed to draw people deeper. If, for instance, we were to re-institute dismissing the catechumens to a sort of Sunday School class specifically for them, it would go a long way towards re-creating that mystery. If they are a new convert, you lead them through the year until Easter, where they are baptized. But you don't give them communion just yet. Instead, you continue to teach them after Baptism about the Eucharist and what it means. Then, on Pentecost, you confirm them. That way, they get a firm grasp on the core of Christianity before baptism, and a solid grasp on the Eucharist before confirmation. And you provide rites of passage. I'll have to dig back out my Robert Webber book to remind me of the levels, but I think they are seeker, hearer, kneeler, and faithful. Each level has a right of passage and a question asked of the believer. More on this later.
I would add one word of caution. We must never get too caught up in BUILDINGS. The earlly Church used what was there. They met in the Temple and used the synagogues continually. I believe we should use existing coffee shops, pubs and the like. Claim them for Christ!
I'm all for that. You use the public forum. It has to be a "go get them" and not a "bring them to us" type of evangelism. But even more than that, it has to be a "meet them where they are" evangelism. That's why I would start a coffee shop myself (or coffee shop/book store in my idea). A place that is separate from the church, that does not have "church" in the title. A place where they don't feel like they have to put on their airs. In fact, in my little model, you don't introduce the church proper for a while. You disciple them where they are, then gradually introduce them to the idea of going to church to fulfill their desire to worship.
I whole heartedly agree! As Fr. Christopher and I have discussed in the pasted, and Fr. Wes and I have discussed in recent weeks, our parish buildings should serve as symbolic hubs of a wheel. From that hub extend spoke that connect to other communities of faith in various aspects of our cultural context (cell groups in homes, groups in coffee houses, groups in pubs, groups in work places, groups that meet at the park, groups that meet together on weeks hikes, groups that pilgrimage together to monastic communities, groups that meet in schools, etc. The opportunities are limited only by our inability, or unwillingness, to listen to God's voice to be a leader that is raised up in such a group/community. In my opinion, though, it is important for such groups to be grounded in the larger community life of the hub...the parish.
Our Continuing Anglican jurisdictions, in my opinion, are in the midst of significant change. We have been so inwardly focused for so many years because of our own inner strife and identity crisis'. It seems that we are now beginning to come into our own sense who of who are, in relation to God's calling for us to remain faithful, and our obedience to strive to do so. We are beginning to hear the Lord's call that we are to be about God's mission in the world around us; that the four walls of our parish building do not define who we are, or all that we are to be doing and The Church Catholic.
I have been doing a bit of reading of some of the comments in other parts of Anglimergent. Parts of what I see are very inspiring and promising, and are great ideas for us to discuss and consider. Other thoughts are of grave concern. But, again, there are areas of grave concern we can find within, and between, our own jurisdictions. We must clean up our own house and get back on target again so that we do not miss the mark.
Just some thoughts that were inspired by your posts...
You know, I missed something here in your post. The part about using existing coffee shops and pubs and the like. I do agree that that should happen as well. We are, after all, talking about missions. Reaching people WHERE THEY ARE.
I concur. The church must have it's "fingers" out in the community
gathering the sheep. The AMiA church I occasionaly attend in Pensacola
has an organization called bridge builders. They reach out to schools, substance
abuse recovery groups etc etc etc. The church has @200 members. About 25 of
them are from Liberty House, an all mens recovery group. They welcomed them,
loved on them....this past Christmas 25 former alcoholics, drug uses etc asked to
sing and sang wonderful songs to our Lord. The voices were rough and lacked clarity,
but the worship, praise and love of our Lord was there. The congregation was weeping
at the change the Lord had accomplished in these men.
The church that set up Liberty House, always made the men feel like second class
people. Set here, don't go here. The house coordinator and the men come to an
Anglican church from a Baptist. Why? The priest, but more importantly the laity,
reached out and loved them.
To rescue people, sometimes you have to get in the trenches and get dirty.
An active church which meets people's needs without selling out completely selling out to the whole modern culture thing but tastefully incorporating modern elements (I'm NOT talking about in regards to worship/liturgy...that is sacred). I like what Steve said about a parish that has like a coffee house affiliated where people could read and discuss theology.
This is such a delightful thread. Deacon Steve has given us some wonderful ideas and Fr. Christopher has challenged us to remember that God has given us gifts already and we must use the people and places He has provided.
The coffee house idea has a great deal of merit. There is a place for "contemporary" Christian music and the coffee house venue is it. While I personally don't care at all for contemporary music in litrurgical worship, I do believe it has a place in more casual atmospheres where encounter and relationship building can take place. Let's also not forget Christian poetry. I suspect there are many Christian poets out there who would love to have such a venue.
In line with Fr. Christopher's thoughts, I can think of a Christian poet who is an acquaintance of Fr. David's and mine. He's a marvelous talent and goes to secular coffeehouses to perform. Sometimes he's derided for his faith, but fearlessly presents the love of Christ in beautiful poetry. I believe the real challenge is to have both Christian venues and for us to venture into secular environs.
If I might just take a second to "piggyback" on what Fr. Greg has mentioned above. The "hub and spoke" concept is powerful and offers avenues for Christian witness and service. At the hub, though, must always be the church itself and the Eucharist. It is from the Eucharist that we Christians derive our power and inspiration. I believe that a strong Christian Eucharistic community naturally begets a strong mission community.
I would like to push a bit further the concept of the hub and spokes in relation to our parish church being the hub, and other places of ministry, meeting, and outreach in the community being the spokes. The other places in the community where the Church meets for ministry are also places where the Church is being the Church. This is something that a couple of members of my Vestry have had to struggle with in recent months. I believe we sometimes get caught up in the idea that the only place the Church can be the Church is when we are gathered in some formal place, like our parish building. In reality, the Church can be the Church in a coffee house meeting, on a hiking trail, at the beach, meeting for prayer and worship in protest against injustice or to support efforts for the respect of all life, etc. Thoughts? Ideas?