Wednesday, June 29, 2005

'Mainlines' in Trouble, Part 3

We continue in our little series with my sharing a few thoughts on what makes a church vibrant and relevant. Some of these might seem to most of my readership as somewhat obvious. That's okay. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here. A lot of this comes from a list I made in my journal the other day just to see what I thought. This is what I came up with:

~Worship is at least 'blended.' Hymns and theologically responsible praise songs set TASTEFULLY to a stripped down music group (nothing too big or outlandish). Theologically responsible = songs that are more than what God does for me, me, me, bathing me in blood, and God going off to kick someone's ass on my behalf. TASEFULLY = you just don't try to rock out Amazing Grace. It doesn't work in most cases. Less is more. We still follow the liturgical year because it provides us with a framework for reflection. Worship in a semi-traditional space (stained glass, crosses). We are CHRISTIAN, after all, and not trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. But moveable chairs are set in the round with the podium at one end. Preaching is preferably done without notes, or at least with as little actual reading as possible. If vestments are used, better to use albs because they are a symbol of servanthood. Communion table is the center of the space and the baptismal font is set at the opening.

~We are mission-minded about everything. Every group that meets has a mission component, be it support physically and/or financially for a LOCAL agency. Frequent reminders that we are sent out by God, and the church exists for mission. Every potential program and project carries with it the question: How is the church's mission carried out here?

~Free dialogue in educational settings. The Bible as dialogue partner rather than textbook or instruction manual. This contributes to a living, thinking faith that encourages growth and does not let one become too comfortable. Historical inquiry is also encouraged. Questions such as 'What did this mean then?' as well as 'What does this mean now?' are asked.

I thought that this post would be longer, but I'm afraid that at this point it won't be. My hope is that with the incorporation of these elements the sacred cows to which one may cling are minimal and the encouragement to keep stretching is always present. Whether any or all of these would accomplish this is up to the collective personality of the people.

Back later with final thoughts before Synod.