Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: church

Does God Care If We “Go to Church” or Not?

images (42)As Easter is here this week, I get sick of hearing about “going to church.” I am more interested in being the church together with others in everyday life. Community has been hijacked by the concept of “going to church.” In my opinion, church makes us dead, zombie-like bystanders who worship the status quo.

  • Do something that will help us to discover our true self

I have no interest in becoming a person who can’t evolve, think for themselves, and live into the mysterious paradoxes of life. For the sake of authenticity, please don’t go to church. Maybe Jesus is calling us to stop “going to church” and instead do something that will help us to discover our true self, our authentic self. The idea of “going to church” has become something we use to keep us from focusing on our responsibility to engage the world with justice, community, love, solidarity, compassion, risk, forgiveness, vulnerability, and honesty.

  • Be the church together

What can you do to be the church and stop going to church? Community, sharing life together in a particular place in everyday life, is one of the most overlooked things in the twenty-first century. It is so simply yet almost impossible in our hyper-mobile culture. Our intentionality is gone so we are left with the idea of “going to church.”

  • Very little local culture today

There is very little local culture today. Almost everything is taken over by corporations who franchise everything for our consumption. Let’s stop consuming religion and start loving our neighbors together as we love ourselves. Do we even love ourselves anymore? Maybe that is why we have a hard time loving our neighbors.

  • Missing the point of life

I don’t think that God cares if we “go to church” or not. What God cares about is if we live into our true selves and embody a lifestyle of love and compassion in the world. Nothing else matters. Without love, you can “go to church” all you want and completely miss the point of life.

  • Totally neglect the interior life

So many people “go to church” and totally neglect their interior life, their true self, their authenticity, a way of love in the world. But instead become arrogant, judgmental, and mean in the name of their God who is supposed to be love. It is all weird to me. Without love, everything will be weird (there is no shock there).

  • Church in North America is a joke

Embodiment1To me, the systems of what we have created as the church in North America is a joke. I can’t take it seriously. There is almost no contemplative dimension to help us to listen deeper and discover our true selves as well as community together because proximity is something very few people like to talk about or practice. But how can we love our neighbors as ourselves when we do not live in proximity in everyday life?

  • Take care of yourself

So this Easter, do yourself a favor and don’t “go to church.” Do something more worthwhile for your soul, to take care of yourself. Maybe that is what God is leading you to. What a heretical thought!

But maybe we need more heretics who aren’t afraid to give up the status quo and “stop going to church” to discover something more authentic.

How can you take care of yourself?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

30 Ways the Church Can Find Renewal

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As I think about the word renewal these are some of the things that come to mind.  Sometimes I think the church cares more about money, power and status than renewal.  But as St. Francis worked to rebuild the church in his time by renouncing riches and following Christ, I think we can do similar things in the twenty-first century world.  I think God is leading us this way and I am wanting to listen to this leading.

1. Become rooted in a particular local community.  If we are not rooted in a local community, what I like to call the parish, we will not be connected relationally to others.  We will live independently, autonomous and isolated.  This is the breakdown of local community in our country and the demise of what will preserve beauty among the body of Christ, the church.

2. Collaborate and partner with others in the place you live.  The church needs to become a collaborator and a partner in everyday life for the good of the place it finds itself in.  Collaboration and partnership fosters renewal, respect and community.  Collaboration and partnership cultivates unity over competition.

3. Take a posture of listening to yourself, others, God and the place you live.  Listening promotes unity, openness and transformation among us.  Why are we afraid to listen in the place we live?  A lot of time is it easier to label someone as “wrong” or “stupid” than to allow ourselves to be faithfully present to them through listening.

4. Practice a contemplative spirituality.  Contemplative spirituality is one of the most neglected practices of the church.  A church that is not contemplative will soon turn colonial and violent.  Contemplation goes way beyond words and helps us to listen by becoming honest, vulnerable and open in our communion with what is authentic in everyday life.

5. Understand your Enneagram Type and practice Nonviolent Communication.  The enneagram is a tool of growth that guides us to understand how to live more fully human in all of life beyond our dualities that we have created.  It is a tool of self-awareness that will show us what is happening to us in times in times of stress and times of security.  The enneagram is made up of nine personality types and each one has a particular gift that is also its particular struggle in life.

I like this so much because we all have different personalities.  It shows us how to live healthy in our lives and how to avoid unhealthy, destructive patterns.  The enneagram puts everyone on the same plain as those we label as “leaders” are often thought to be above all struggles.  When we live into the unhealthy side of our type, we will not live into our true self and will become destructive toward others and ourselves.

Nonviolent communication is a process of communication that takes into account 4 steps.  First, make a statement of observation around something that happened without judgment.  Second, identify what you are feeling by taking full responsibility of your emotions.  Third, communicate what you need from the other person.  Fourth, make a request of that person that is tangible and concrete without demanding.

I like this so much because it helps us to take responsibility of our feelings without blaming others and leads us to open communication that is nonthreatening in a vulnerable way.  This promotes authentic connection, honesty and respect.  It seems our most difficult struggles in sharing life together are over our personalities and communication styles.  Understanding the enneagram and nonviolent communication are wonderful tools to help us understand one another, respect one another and share life together in our local community.

6. Have a paradigm shift to value community over North American definitions of church.  We need to deconstruct our faith and enter into a new paradigm where the church becomes a network of relationships in a particular place.  We need to embody a communal imagination where love, humility and grace become a reality in everyday life.  This will help the church to find its way out of its colonial patterns that foster to services, buildings and wealth.

7. Embrace the value of living in proximity and becoming neighbors.  Embracing proximity could bring so much renewal to us.  It seems we do not want to be neighbors in the same neighborhood.  If we do not live in proximity we cannot live as a community in the world we find ourselves in.  And the church will turn into a service in a building where we learn information about God, but are disconnected from one another in everyday life as neighbors engaged in our culture together.

8. Practice vulnerability, humility and compassion.  It seems Jesus practiced vulnerability, humility and compassion in his life.  We are called to follow the authentic way of Jesus and follow this path also.  But in an American culture that does not value such things, it is very difficult.  We have to live intentionally or it will never happen.

9. Practice hospitality to the poor, oppressed and marginalized.  If we practiced hospitality, this could move us toward social justice and out of our homogenous cocoon.  The poor are all around us, we just live blind to it.  Maybe we could start sharing our lives with the poor entering into a process of discernment on what this means to us.  God is revealed through the poor more than anything else in life.

10. Eat together with others.  Eating together breaks down class structures and makes everyone equal.  The one commonality we have as a human race is that we all need to eat.  Let’s not eat in isolation, but together.  Life is fuller when we share it with others.

11. Commit to a lifetime of working through your own pain and codependence.  There is no renewal in codependency.  When we cannot say no to others while being controlled by another’s actions we will live a life of shame, guilt and always being tired.  We need to work to transform our pain into compassion as we become dependent no more.

12. Take care of yourself.  It is okay to take care of ourselves.  It is essential.  Take care of your needs so you can be sustainable in the good you are doing in the world.

13. Stop trying to save the world and do small things with great love.  To bless the world starts with the small, ordinary things of everyday life that we do with love.  Love is the authentic path for all of us.  We must find how we can become an expression of love and not hate in the world.

14. Become connected and linked to other communities in other contexts.  As we live locally, we need to be linked to others who are pursuing community in other places.  We learn so much from other contexts.  Experiencing a new place shapes our imaginations for the place we live.

15. Read 100 books a year (especially by women and minorities).  Reading transforms us tremendously.  Books can become our friends when we feel alone and frustrated.  They are always there for us and are our companions along our life’s path.  I would suggest replacing the practice of watching TV with the practice of reading or some modification of it.

16. Let go of patriarchy.  The church would find so much renewal if we honored women along with men on an equal plain.  When we don’t allow women to have a voice, we destroy the church because it becomes unbalanced as the masculine dominates.  Men have produced so much disunity, competition, colonialism and violence among the body of Christ.

17. Learn to see love as the only thing that matters above theology, doctrine or ritual.  Love is more important than theology, doctrine or ritual.  Many will cry out to Jesus after they have lived a life without love and he will say I never knew you.  Love is the most beautiful value in the world and everything that is beautiful comes from love.

18. Learn to release expectations and take on a posture of grace.  Expectations are premediated resentments.  Expectations demand and control.  Expectations will destroy us if cannot release them in everyday life.

19. Support and create local economies in the place you live.  Economies shape life.  The global, corporate economy is based on progress, exploitation, competition and greed.  The local economy is based on collaboration, community, social capital and benevolence.

20. See all of life as sacred.  We need to get out of the sacred/secular divide.  All of life is sacred.  There is no secular.  This is the call of Christ to our lives to embrace all of life as sacred.

21. Practice simplicity over consumerism.  Consumerism runs the United States.  It is the narrative of progress that we are taught by everything around us.  Simplicity subverts consumerism giving us space to have an imagination outside of the narrative of the market and empire.

22. Do not believe in upward mobility.  Renewal will come when we stop believing in and practicing upward mobility.  Upward mobility does not value neighbors in everyday life.  It makes money and possessions the priority which Jesus taught against.

23. Live in risk, uncertainty and unraveling constantly.  We cannot live if we do not risk.  Our whole lives should be about unraveling and uncertainty in the ways we risk.  We need not to be afraid of risk and the places it puts us in.

24. Find what is authentic in you and follow that path.  All of us have a unique path to follow that is our own.  It is no one else’s.  We need to seek out what this is for us as we live engaged in the world.

25. Connect truth with a deep way of honesty about yourself.  Honesty is truth.  There is no truth without honesty.  Without honesty there is no love, but only manipulation and apathy.

26. Do not allow the American Dream (market or empire) to capture your imagination.  The American Dream holds our imaginations captive.  The church cannot find life within the American Dream.  It is made up of money, progress and possessions which Jesus cared nothing about.

27. Live in your body by engaging your senses, getting enough sleep and exercising regularly.  Valuing the body enough to slow down, work less and rest more is healthy.  This will help us to see, hear, smell, touch and taste what is authentic in everyday life.  We need a healthy balance of exercise and sleep.

28. Learn to practice gentleness, compassion and kindness toward yourself.  Gentleness, compassion and kindness is what we need directed toward ourselves first.  We need to be compassionate to ourselves.  We need to find a kindness that overflows to ourselves.

29. Work to rebuild the church into something more authentic instead of complaining about all the damage it has done.  It is easy to complain and hard to work for something better.  For the church to become more authentic, we must love it and hate it at the same time.  We must work for the things we can change, accept the things we can’t and have the wisdom to know the difference.

30. Stop focusing on what we perceive of as our sin (being driven by shame and guilt) and start building your life around Christ living in you (love, compassion and authenticity).  Do we have any awareness that Christ lives within us?  Is this the focus of our deepest longing?  This is the way to discover our true self which is an expression of love in the world.

What do you think brings renewal?

http://www.amazon.com/Communal-Imagination-Finding-Share-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1424305833&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

 

This is a post that is a part of the February 2015 synchroblog on renewal.

Abbie Waters – It is Well with My Soul

Done With Religion – Renewal

Mark Votova – 30 Ways the Church Can Find Renewal

Jeremy Myers – I am Dying … (So I Can Live Again)

Phil Lancanster – The Parable of the Classic Car

Susan Schiller – Renewal by Design

Glenn Hager – Repurposed

Wesley Rostoll – Why I no longer pray for revival

Clara Ogwuazor-Mbamalu – Renewal of the Spirit

K. W. Leslie – Those who wait on the Lord

Lisa Brown – Momma’s Kick Off Your Shoes and Stay For A While!

Jenom Makama – …Like An Antivirus

Leah – Renewal!

Liz Dyer – Put Your Mask On First

Peggy – Abi and the February 2015 Synchroblog – Renewal

Confusion: 10 Reasons Why I Dislike the Church I am Supposed to Love

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1. Fosters arrogance.  The church seems to be very arrogant about God.  Humility is something Jesus taught and is the one thing I hardly ever experience people exploring when it comes to Christianity.  We don’t realize that vulnerability is the central message of the gospel, not pride.

2. Elevates the mind over the body.  The body has been disregarded as bad or something close to it.  I don’t buy it.  We are called to an embodied spirituality of love, compassion and authenticity in our bodies.

3. Fosters dishonesty.  The church loves to talk about truth while living in dishonesty a lot of the time.  I thought that truth means being honest in our way of life?  How can we be honest when we live a life of distraction, hyper-individualism and exclusion that aligns with the North American status quo?

4. Addiction to consumerism.  We say life is about the kingdom of God, but a lot of time it is about our own consumerism.  We are tied to our cultural expectations to pursue “the good life” of accumulating and pass this on to our children.  Life is more about working exhausting hours at jobs that we dislike so we can buy things which keep us from being present to others.

5. Judges more than loves.  The church lacks love.  Often times I see too much division and fighting among others who are supposed to be taking the Bible seriously and loving one another.  I have seen a lot of judgment from the church and not enough love.

6. Lack of community.  The church has abandoned community in everyday life.  The church has forsaken living locally to become neighbors to one another in a particular place.  We live above place and don’t care about anything but our own agenda which creates extreme ways of individualism.

7. Oppresses sexuality.  The church will not allow others to have honest conversations around sexuality.  If you even say you have a sex drive you are thought of as bad.  Anyone who is divorced, single, homosexual or having sex in a dating relationship is less than a heterosexual couple who is married.

8. Toxic charity.  The church doesn’t really want to be in relationship with the poor so we practice a toxic charity that fosters dependence and makes us feel good about ourselves.  We give out handouts to the needy, but want to keep them dependent on services that give us the power to decide what they need without ever listening to them.  This is the kindest way to destroy someone.

9. Disregards the spiritual formation of the interior life.  I have experienced that the church doesn’t have much interest in a deep contemplative spirituality of interior growth, formation and listening.  No wonder there is so much dysfunction and lack of love.  Interior growth is what the kingdom of God is all about moving us beyond our prejudices, religious pride and attitudes of having all the answers.

10. Overemphasis on sin rather than a way of life that is beautiful.  I have heard so often, “I am a sinner and nobody’s perfect” line as a cop out for not taking responsibility in life.  The overemphasis on sin is disheartening.  When will we start living into a beautiful way of life as we abide in Christ to find creativity, freedom, hospitality, love, humility and compassion in the world we live in?

What has been your experience with the church you are supposed to love?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1414843789&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

10 Ways We Can Dream for the Church in the Twenty-First Century

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So many people these days are disillusioned with the church.  I am one of them.  We need to find a way to dream for the church in the twenty-first century.  Here are some ways we can dream in our time:

1. We can dream of a church where community is essential to its life.  Community, the sharing of life together, is foundational to an authentic ecclesiology.  Without community, the church cannot be an expression of love in the world together.

2. We can dream of a church that takes place seriously.  A commitment to place is crucial for us to become connected to our culture and work for the common good.  Without a focus on place, the church cannot be an expression of beauty, grace, compassion and hope in everyday life.

3. We can dream of a church that returns to the idea of parish.  Returning to the parish, a particular geography of a neighborhood that we inhabit and care for, could revolutionize the church in the twenty-first century.  We need to live within the context of the parish and become rooted there for decades.

4. We can dream of a church that has a vibrant expression of love together in everyday life Monday through Saturday.  The church is called to be an expression of love.  Monday through Saturday are the days we are most invisible to others in our society because we are not together.

5. We can dream of a church that lives in vulnerability and humility.  I dream of a church that is known for its vulnerability and humility.  Repentance and honesty about our colonialism, violence, arrogance in the past would be a good thing.  This might just shock the world who has seen a lot of arrogance in the name of God.

6. We can dream of a church that lives in grace and compassion. 

“The strongest argument in favor of grace is the alternative, a world of ungrace.  The strongest argument for forgiveness is the alterative, a permanent state of unforgiveness,” writes Philip Yancey. 

I dream of a church of grace, not ungrace.

7. We can dream of a church that listens.  I dream of a church that stops preaching at people and starts listening in the context of everyday life.  This would be so liberating and bring a lot of reconciliation.

8. We can dream of a church of hospitality.  If we opened our homes, our tables, our lives to the marginalized, the hurting, the abused, the lonely; this would be beautiful.  Can we dream of a day when this becomes a reality for the church and we practice hospitality in all we do?

9. We can dream of a church of solidarity.  Finding our commonalities instead of our differences is so important in bringing some sense of solidarity to others.  We have so much in common with those we think are different from us.

10. We can dream of a church of collaboration.  Competition needs to stop and we need to dream of a day when we become about collaboration.  Collaboration fosters love, compassion, solidarity, hospitality, reconciliation and friendship.

How can we dream for the church in the twenty-first century?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412343079&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination

Top 10 Sins that are Destroying the Church in North America

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I have been thinking a lot about some of the things that have disillusioned me about the church in North America.  Our typical models of church have frustrated me for years, but I cannot just abandoned my spirituality because of my feelings about the church.  I must mourn and dream for the church that could become something beautiful in our culture.  Here are the top ten sins that I think the church needs to face if we are going to embody something beautiful in our world:

1. The abandonment of local community.  We have abandoned a local way of life in pursuit of the “good life.”  We are destroying the world and abandoning our commitment to culture through the lack of investment we have in the local community we live in.  This is ignored as we do not seem to care very much about what is local and settle for the idea of “going to church.”

2. The refusal to live in proximity to one another and become neighbors in everyday life.  We do not want to become neighbors and face one another in everyday life.  We like our individualism and do not like any discussion of proximity to a particular place.  The idea of parish, a local community where you live, is despised when it comes to our ecclesiology.

3. Upward mobility.  We are more interested in our economic advancement and making money than being the body of Christ together in a particular place over time.  We have almost no vision for decades of rootedness in the place we find ourselves living.  We always want something better and move on after three to five years.

4. Consumerism.  We have abandoned simplicity.  We take high paying jobs so we can buy more things that we do not need.  We are not aware that working forty to sixty hours a week outside of our local community is making us useless because there is no faithful presence when this is happening in everyday life.

5. Patriarchy.  Women have become marginalized and ignored.  Men are seen as leaders while women are not and told they can’t be.  What a mistake that men do not realize the asset that women are to the church.

6. Embracing judgement to the world instead of love.  There is so much judgment from the church toward others in the world.  But we are called to lay down our judgment and embody love in our context in the world.  Without love the church is nothing and does more damage than good.

7. Dualistic thinking.  The sacred/secular divide is destroying the church.  We have lost the ability to see all of life as sacred.  The world is a sacred vessel of enlightenment, revelation and wonder.

8. The abandonment of practicing hospitality to the poor, oppressed and marginalized.  We do not like to open our homes, our tables, our lives to the poor around us in the world.  We have lost the wisdom of hospitality and have forgotten that Christ lives in the poor.  The lack of experimentation, practice and embodiment of this is making the church useless.

9. The refusal to listen.  We love to preach the gospel with words, but we do not like to embody a deep sense of listening to others and the local community we live in.  Listening has been ignored, undervalued and thrown to the wayside.  It takes too much work and time to truly listen in life.

10. Our arrogance in thinking we have all the answers for everyone.  We have become arrogant in thinking we do not have anything to learn from anyone else.  We have become know it alls and impose our prefabricated answers onto everyone around us.  This is colonial and abandons any sense of vulnerability on our part.

How can we dream of a church that does not practice these types of sins in our culture?  Do you think the church is destined to sin or is there something more beautiful to be embodied together?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410967210&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination+finding+a+way+to+

Why Have We Disconnected Hospitality From Ecclesiology?

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After living with and learning from the Tacoma Catholic Workers for four years in my parish, I am coming to see that hospitality is one of the central messages of the gospel.  When I first learned of Christianity, it seemed hospitality was not even mentioned that much and it was all about believing the right things while attending church on Sundays.  It wasn’t really about being a part of a local community where you lived and loved people in everyday life.

So I began to question this whole idea of a church that is disconnected from local community.  I began to ask myself, “Is this what church is?”  It never set right with me and I became disillusioned with the whole thing.  So I have lived into my questions for a long time now.

What is church?  What is the gospel?  What is authentic?  How do we love others?

The Tacoma Catholic Worker has a thirty year history in the neighborhood where they care for those struggling with poverty by proving housing and living with them in community.  They have provided hospitality by valuing all people and seeing the similarities instead of differences.  They have taught me that we all eat, sleep, take showers, need relationships as well as have needs and feelings.  It makes me sad that so many people in our culture are rejected because they are poor and don’t fit the model for success in our world.

I see the Tacoma Catholic Worker as a collective of houses and people who have practiced stability in the parish for three decades.  Most people do not even think of church when they see the work that goes on there, but I do.  This is what I dream of when I think of church.  The church is a network of people who care for their neighborhood, live in community, in proximity, become neighbors in everyday life, show hospitality, practice justice, love their neighbors especially the poor, listen well and collaborate locally for the common good.

  •  Offer hospitality to one another

“Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling…” (1 Peter 4:9).  Hospitality has a lot to do with making space for others by being generous with our time.  Creating open spaces in our lives in order to connect with others and live relationally is important to the communal imagination.

  •  Showing hospitality just might be the holiest thing we could do

In fact, showing hospitality just might be the holiest thing we could do.  We need to do this willingly without grumbling about its demands.  The body of Christ needs to make space for others within our lives in the parish.

  •  Making space for others fosters love

Making space for others fosters love among us.  It values our uniqueness.  It builds trust and brings value.  Without spending time with others there is little relational connection between one another.

How can we learn to practice hospitality and become the church in everyday life together?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=pd_sim_b_11?ie=UTF8&refRID=0VNCC12WD34KDP28GWNS

Why is There a Duality Between Church and Local Community?

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It seems we are masters of duality when it comes to life.  We process almost everything through dualities that are not life-giving and create fragmentation.  This is tragic and sad to say the least.  One of the greatest dualities that I know of is the separation of church and local community.

  • For many of us church has very little to do with where we live

Church has become something we go to on a certain day and time of the week rather than something we are embodying through the place we live in everyday life.  This duality is killing us slowly, but many of us tend to love this dualistic version of what we call church.  For many of us church has very little to do with where we live, proximity, shared life together, community, solidarity, hospitality or learning from our neighbors.

  • Lost in a mobile world of technology

We, as Christians, have become lost in a mobile world of technology and abstract propositional statements about God.  Our embodiment is lacking because we do not value a rootedness in the place we live.  The local community is made up of many people, but a lot of them are not the Christians.  Maybe we have something to learn from our diverse neighbors of different races and socioeconomic backgrounds who value place more than we do.

  • Rediscovering the parish in all aspects of life

God is calling us to heal this duality between what we see as church and what we know of local community.  We need to integrate church with a practice of an embodied local community in everyday life.  We need to rediscover the parish in all aspects of life.  Have we become lost due to our addiction to upward mobility, complacency, apathy and dishonesty?

  • Following the local way of Christ

Jesus lived locally in embodied practices of love, grace and humility his whole life.  We are all called to follow the local way of Christ as he loved others and suffered because of it.  Christ was extremely local and is calling us to this way of life.  So many people are saying today that the world is being destroyed because we have abandoned our responsibility to remain local and sustainable.

  • We can’t see the plank in our own eyes

This duality between church and local community is frightening and has turned us into arrogant know it alls who want to convert others while we can’t see the plank in our own eyes.  But I would say convert others to what?  A church disconnected from shared life in local community.

  • Hanging onto our dualistic ways

Something is missing.  Something is not making sense while we hang onto our dualistic ways.  This is not the way of Christ.  This is not what we should be inviting others into.

How can we get over our duality between church and local community?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=pd_sim_b_11?ie=UTF8&refRID=0VNCC12WD34KDP28GWNS

3 Reasons Why the Attractional, Commuter Church is Dualistic and Boring

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When I first learned about spirituality at a young age, all I could see of the church was an attractional, commuter expression of a gathering of people who sing songs and listen to someone preaching intellectual ideas about God.  Over the years I have thought, “This is the body of Christ?  This is the good news?  It seems pretty boring, disengaged and disembodied to me.”  I have become so bored with this expression of Christianity in North America where I live in the Pacific Northwest.  Can I actually be honest and say that I am bored with the Christianity that I have been taught without that being a bad thing?

This expression of Christianity is teaching me a dualism that is not healthy.  It is actually destructive to my spirituality.  I cannot make sense of it anymore and have given up on it for good.  You may think that this is a bad thing, but it has brought me to a place of greater authenticity, freedom and liberation.

Here are 3 reasons why I find the attractional, commuter church dualistic and boring:

1. There is little engagement with the local community.  When we are not present in our local community and just go to church somewhere else, the medium suggests that spirituality has nothing to do with life.  Shared life, community, relationship, common work, loving our neighbors together, listening, hospitality and embodied practice is virtually nonexistent.

2. It requires nothing in everyday life together.  This idea of going to church is narcissistic and  consumeristic a lot of the time.  I think this is the case because it is impossible to engage in everyday life together when we do not live in any sense of proximity to one another or to a particular place.  When there is no everyday life together, we end up using God for our own agenda and faith becomes a product we consume to our liking.

3. It is individualistic and colonial.  The attractional, commuter church promotes individualism because there is no body to be a part of in everyday life together.  It is colonial because there is no embodied practice together Monday through Saturday.  All we will have to rely on is church growth, evangelism disconnected from hospitality, an overreliance on preaching with very little sense of love and relationship with our neighbors.

The idea of parish could bring us back to a place of engagement with our world, culture and neighbors.  It would do us good to stop “going to church” for the well being of our souls and start engaging in becoming a part of the local community we live in together with others.  This is much less dualistic and could bring us some joy instead of boredom in everyday life to the body of Christ in the twenty-first century of our crazy, fragmented world.

How can we stop going to church and become engaged in our local community?

http://www.amazon.com/The-Communal-Imagination-Finding-Together/dp/1495487423/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1405434001&sr=8-1&keywords=the+communal+imagination