"Wealth will increasingly be defined by our ability to go offline whenever we want." - Fernando Gros
0 items in your cart
$0
Blog // Thoughts
July 29, 2006

The Personal and Private Experience

The Personal and Private Experience Matt Stone made an excellent comment here recently, I find there‚Äôs a definite ‚Äòme‚Äô factor to much contemporary Christian music‚Ķ‚Äôwrap your arms around me Lord‚Äô, ‚Äòhere I am waiting, abide in me I pray‚Äô, etc, etc. All focussed on how you make ME feel, how you relate to ME, how […]

The Personal and Private Experience

Matt Stone made an excellent comment here recently,

I find there’s a definite ‘me’ factor to much contemporary Christian music…’wrap your arms around me Lord’, ‘here I am waiting, abide in me I pray’, etc, etc. All focussed on how you make ME feel, how you relate to ME, how you supercharge MY religious experience, how you heal MY emotions and make ME feel secure. Where is the focus on justice for the poor, on the hoped for renewal of the earth, on the return of Christ, on our need for confession, on our need to forgive others, on a whole host of other things? There’s a place for theraputic songs, but there’s a place for balance too.

Those words really resonate with a recent church worship experience, which L described as ‚Äú…all so personal, so private.‚Äù Why should this be a problem?

For the missional Christian who has a lot of relationships “in the marketplace,” their spirituality will be carried out in private moments, often private moments in the midst of the busyness of others. A missional outlook almost demands that we develop the ability to meet God in the noise of life (I’m currently editing this post in possibly the most insanely noisy eatery in Hong Kong, maybe in the whole world).
Collective worship has only ever made sense to me if it allows us to do something we cannot do in our private moments of reflection and contemplation. That is why gathering together is so central to the New Testament pattern of Christian life. The solitary Christian with nothing but private and personal moments of transcendence is missing something important, something central. Ritually privatised unidirectional worship (one-way lines between “leaders and congregants and between congregants and God) falls short for the same reason. Matt has highlighted a very important aspect of this failing.

But there are two further points to consider. First, gathering carries with it a moral or ethical dimension. We gather because we are accountable to each other and we make ourselves accountable. The height of our spiritual epiphanies is not the point, the extent of the transformation is, especially as it impacts our life, our work and our mission.

Second, gathering together is the core of the most essential and important form of theology, the narrative of God’s providential encounter with his people. We learn our most valuable lessons and garner the most important insights about faith from the testimony of our fellow believers as they encounter God, find illumination in scripture and go out in mission. Collective worship that silences this narrative, or leaves no space for it in worship meetings is, well, sub-Christian.

[tags] Missional, Ecclesiology [/tags]

Responses
John 16 years ago

Me, Me, Me is all about wanted to be consoled by the Parental Creator Deity. See

http://www.aboutadidam.org/readings/parental_deity/index.html

But then again Spiritual Growth begins entirely with a subjective transformation which can only occur within a Sacred Community and is then also lived out within a Sacred Community which can then be the base from which to engage in missionary efforts in the wider world.

Leave a comment

Enter your and your to join the mailing list.