Friday, May 2, 2008

Mike's "Perfect Church" -- Part X Meeting

In Tomlinson's book, The Post-Evangelical he describes a group that meets in a pub called, "Holy Joe's." I don't care for the name, but it must work there. It is also quite unstructured, which sometimes can be scary . . . but many parts of this group I liked a lot. For one, there was brutal honestly. I was just told by a pastor today that there is a problem with too much "honestly" within a church. Hogwash!

We need a safe place where we can go, among loving friends, let our hair down and say exactly what's happening in our lives. We need a place where we can ask questions, any question and still be respected. We need a place where we can hear scripture taught in an effective manner either by a great teacher, in person, or via electronic media. We could listen to good music, that has a message or speaks to the emotions in a positive way or expressing our emotions to God. We could sing together if we want. There we could enjoy all forms of art. Poems, paintings, photos or video. It must also be a place where dualistic thinking doesn't try to wall-off the 90% of your life from the so-called "spiritual."

I admit that I am addicted to Starbucks. I am addicted to the taste of the coffee and I am addicted to the ambiance. It certainly doesn't have to be a Starbucks as any cafe would work . . . or even a bar. A home would work fine as well. But my concept of the church meeting would happen in one of these places.

When? Anytime but Sunday. The reason? If you really study scripture, "the sabbath" is God's gift to us . . . for our rest. It is also to teach us about our sabbath rest in God.

A Seattle newspaper use to do a commercial about their Sunday morning edition. When I watched the ad, it struck me as the way God wants us to spend the sabbath.

The characters in the ad (a couple) are in bed. The ad says, "Sunday mornings are the one time in the week, when you can stay in bed until noon . . . if you want." Then it shows then just laying in bed in their PJs, napping, reading the paper, drinking coffee and eating breakfast . . . IN BED! In our crazy, busy worlds, this is how God wants us to spend the sabbath.

It was people, in their attempts to create penitence and duty, who came up with the very busy Sunday schedule. Got to get up. Get all the kids squeaky clean. Put on your best cloths. Practice your song or your Sunday school lesson . . . or whatever.

So my perfect church community would probably meet on Saturday night, or Saturday morning. It would be a time that you would never go to out of obligation. But just like any fun, social group (think of Cheers, or you favorite group) you wouldn't miss it for the world. It is a place where real relationships take place. Where you are loved . . . and ENCOURAGED!

The meeting place, like with Holy Joe's, nonbelievers would be welcomed and would feel at as ease as the tax collectors felt with Jesus. They could come as our friends . . . true friends, and not just our "evangelistic project."

Outreach, would be very important to the church as well. But the form of "outreach" would be defined broadly. This includes service to those in need. HIV-AIDs hospice, single moms, elderly, homeless or just the lonely.

That's my perfect church! Done.

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