Is It Possible To Be A Post-Congregational Baptist?
Probably not. But, that hasn’t stopped me thinking along those lines recently… Back in 2006 I wrote a somewhat longwinded set of blogposts reviewing Spencer Burke’s book, A Heretics Guide To Eternity.” In amongst that verbiage, I said, “I’m all for dispensing with the illusions of Christianity and for jettisoning the broken structures. But, I […]
Probably not. But, that hasn’t stopped me thinking along those lines recently…
Back in 2006 I wrote a somewhat longwinded set of blogposts reviewing Spencer Burke’s book, A Heretics Guide To Eternity.” In amongst that verbiage, I said,
“I’m all for dispensing with the illusions of Christianity and for jettisoning the broken structures. But, I think A Heretic’s Guide to Eternity goes further than I’m prepared to go. There is something for me about church-ness that is not just an idea, or abstraction, but is a still a reality, hope and calling. I still believe that something church-like is part of God’s providential plan for the world.”
I was a little harsh in the review because I still felt that church-ing (the sense of intentionally doing church together) was still something worth aspiring to. Of course, the reality was I had been through a pretty turbulent few years on the church front and was struggling to find a church “home” in a new city. The critical sense in that review was my hopeful voice speaking from an ever dimming memory of what church could be.
The staggering thing I now have to admit to myself as I close on my 40th birthday (later this year), is that I’m looking back on a decade where I almost never used the phrase “my church.” Sure, I’ve struggled, tried, sacrificed, put the effort in, etc. But, it’s been patchy at best and close to desolate at worst.
Just this week I discovered that the church we attend (I can’t really call it “my church”) has a presence on Facebook. Rather tellingly, I didn’t join. Surely that says a lot.
So, it was engaging to read Steve’s “Some Thoughts On Being Post-Congregational” this week. In particular, these thoughts leap out,
“Those I know who are choosing the route of post-congregationalism (if that’s even a word) are doing so out of a missional motivation to intentionally be the Church outside of traditional church structures in order to be salt and light amongst a largely de-churched world.”
The funny thing is, that’s where I am, but not really by choice. I could be melodramatic and say the church has let me down (OK, a few years ago I was that melodramatic and I did say that) – but it is more subtle really. I’m just finding there is a kind irreconcilability between being missional and being conventionally congregational in a give-every-spare-second-to-the church kind of way.
Which leaves me with this tantalising word Steve threw in there – post-congregationalism. Perhaps post-congregationalism might be the complete rejection of congregationalism, but rather the informed questioning of why it never fulfilled its promise (in the same way that really interesting forms of post-modernism are not just reactions against modernism, but rather explorations of the limits of modernism).
[tags] Baptist, Ecclesiology, Post-Congregational [/tags]