Thursday, April 30, 2009

Event Alert: Twin Cities House/Organic Chruch Conference

We interrupt our current series of posts for this important announcement: a really good conference is being organized for June in the Twin Cities for people interested in the missional movement showing up in simple-, house- and organic-church expressions.

The official site for the conference will be Matthew Berry's Raw Religion, but at the moment I've found the most information here on Katie Driver's Backseat Driver blog.

Among those who will be taking part are:
These are all folks I've heard before and highly recommend.

Spread the word, and if you'll be going let me know. I'd love to meet up there.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What the Bishop Said, Part 2: Relationships over Programs and Structures

As I mentioned in the first post of this series, I'm exploring four "core values" offered by my Bishop Peter Rogness, to lift up the ways I see them align with a house church expression. Peter's first value is this:

Relationships are more life-giving than programs or structures.

It's tempting just to write QED and move on to the next post, but I'll expound a bit anyway.

He's absolutely right of course. Relationships must have primacy over programs and structures, and the latter should be evaluated on the basis of how they contribute to the former. Sort of a "Sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the sabbath" kind of thing (Mark 2:27). I'm convinced we desperately need to make the changes that would reflect having relationships as a real priority.

So, how do we act on this value?

In conventional congregations, it's going to be tough sledding. Most of our resources there are invested in large group activities that are inherently less able to nurture relationships, Sunday morning worship being the most prominent example. (I've written more about this fundamental mis-alignment here.) Programs and structures are already in place - dare I say entrenched - and institutional inertia is a hard force to overcome. Not to mention the chronic challenge of funding even when we're not in a historic recession. But this re-prioritization is important work and it needs to be done. At a minimum, there needs to be an emphasis on nurturing small groups or perhaps "counting conversations" as Reggie McNeal has suggested. Kudos to Peter for putting relationships at the top of his list.

But there is another option: start fresh. Start new communities that are centered on the primacy of relationships from the outset and let them generate the programs and structures they need to support that kind of life. New communities, where the small group is the primary expression rather than a programmatic add-on. In a word, house churches.

It's not an either/or situation. I do not believe we should abandon conventional churches rather than take on the hard work of re-aligning their priorities. But I do believe we should add another strategy, and invest at least some of our time, energy and funding in an approach that's naturally aligned with the primacy and priority of relationships.

If we want to take Peter seriously, and I believe we should, I think that's what we'll need to do.

Friday, April 17, 2009

What the Bishop Said: Four Values that Point towards Lutheran House Churches

Recently I heard my Bishop speak, and just about everything he said made me think about house churches.

Peter Rogness is my Bishop and a very fine Bishop he is, IMHO. He was speaking to a gathering of local ELCA clergy and shared with us the four core values that he envisions guiding the shared work of our congregations. It's good stuff! Here they are:
  • Relationships are more life-giving than programs or structures;
  • Outreach is fundamental;
  • We are “repairers of the breach;”
  • Being Lutheran is an asset.
As he was introducing each of these to the group, I was doodling/taking notes on a plate. Each time he introduced a value I found myself thinking; "Well, that fits with house churches." (It's sort of a mental reflex for me now. No matter what anyone says about anything, I'm likely to be thinking about how it relates to house churches.)

So for the next few posts I'm going to take each of those values in turn and talk about how I see it pointing us towards an emphasis on a house church expression. Stay tuned!