Friday, September 09, 2011

Church

State of present thinking is: Church is that community of people with whom you are serious about your discipleship of Christ.

What I'm exploring is something which doesn't focus upon the various activities (worship, service, meetings etc) which end up being debated about and divided over in endless fashion. Rather, I'm wanting to emphasise what those things are for (formation in discipleship) and that this is necessarily a corporate and not an individual activity.

So, being serious about your discipleship of Christ necessarily entails: sacramental worship, mutual accountability, pastoral care, shared study and service and all the rest of it. Church is simply that group of people with whom you do this. In one sense I'm describing a 'house church' in that doing this properly can only be done in small numbers - but I don't see a need to erect a barrier between small groups and the gathered assembly.

Another thing I'm pondering - I'm not sure I'm a member of one. I'm also not sure the role of 'Church of England Rector' is compatible with church membership, in the sense that I've described it here. All the elements are present in my life, but they are disparate and spread across a number of different groups. That's not how it is meant to work.

I think the key barrier is one of authority. In what way can a Rector be vulnerable to members of their own congregation? It would mean setting aside the 'role' in order to be a Christian brother, which is tremendously attractive. I just can't see a natural way in which to do that in my present context. Yet I'm more aware than I have been in a while that I need to do this, for my own spiritual health - and, probably, for the health of those communities in my care. Which throws up an interesting line of investigation into what the priest is for in a community - and whether the authority 'role' is compatible with what the priest is for.

Still much to think about on this one. It is a work in progress, as are we all.

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