Saturday, 2 September 2006

A new C.O.B., this time with community!

As I step into my first semester of seminary, I have been thinking lately of a different paradigm of ministry, a way of ministering and of doing church that focuses less on dogma and more on community: community among the congregants, and between the church and the wider world. My vision is still very amorphus at the moment, but part of it would include some of the concepts behind a COB other than the Church of the Brethren, the Church of Brunch, which I first heard about this afternoon on the radio program Weekend America. Here's a teaser from the program's site:
There was a time decades ago when nearly everyone spent Sunday mornings at church. Sunday services were so pervasive that the event became a place of community for the whole neighborhood. Now that religion is less prominent in some folks' lives, they are looking for that same type of community, but minus the God.

Of course my thoughts include God (I'm in seminary), but I, and others I've spoken with, share their desire for a strong community that gathers regularly in a sacred way. Even though their brunches don't worship God, it seemed to me that they are still spiritual, in the sense that we Anabaptists gound a large part of our spirituality on gathering in community.

One thing that caught my attention was that one of the members said on the radio that she tried the Mennonite church, but found it inadequate along with other churches she tried. Her largest complaint was that eventually there would come a point where someone would say that if one acts in such and such a way, they'll go to hell, and she couldn't live with that. What she sought was an inclusive community, and couldn't find it in any Christian community. I'm taking this as a challenge, and I hpe others do as well. I don't see this Church of the Brunch as a threat, but as people looking for the same thing as I am. I'm just not in the place to walk away from my church and the faith. It's too much of my family and my own identity to leave, and I think there are others who think the same way. There are positive things about Christianity, and I want those to be the ones that win out.

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