Monday, March 1, 2010

"Christianity for the Rest of Us"

As part of a five week book study I read "Christianity for the Rest of Us- How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith" by Diana Butler Bass.

She has 10 signposts of renewal:

hospitality, discernment, healing, contemplation, testimony, diversity, justice, worship, reflection, beauty.

Page 6 : I also believe that lively faith is not located in buildings, programs, organizations, and structures. rather, spiritual vitality lives in human beings; it's located in the heart of God's people and the communities they form."

Page 22: because we are a mobile community it is important to talk of roots and commitment

45: churches decline when they neglect Scripture, prayer, discernment, hospitality, contemplation, justice.

52: "Tradition connects Christians to the past, practice is the calling in the present, and wisdom pushes towards a future of eternal love."

63: Deanna, a church member- "i definitely need constant and continuing conversion as I am such a superb sinner!"

67: how as a church can we take tragedy (like an unexpected death) and turn it into redemption

72: What if Jesus is not a Mapquest sort of map, a superhighway to salvation?

Hospitality: 81. how do we transform a tourist into a friend? 85. Could we host a Tent City for the homeless on our front lawn?. 86; when hostility is converted into hospitality then fearful strangers become guests (Nouwen).

Discernment: Move from asking I-questions to God-question.

Healing: 104: To find harmony is to find balance, to touch the center point of wholeness. 106. healing is ancient. What's new is that churches are practising it (such as Christian Reiki)

Contemplation: 118: silence in the midst of all the noise we have in life, out of our fear of nothingness (120). 123: the First sign of openness to the Spirit is how much Roberts Rules of order dominate the church proceedings.

testimony: 131 it is a process of releasing control and risking that testimony can outshine the sermon. 141: testimony is not about God fixing people, it speaks of God making wholeness out of human woundedness, human incompleteness.

diversity: 148 serves as a sign of God's love for all humanity, 149 even Israel is not singular, it's made up of 12 tribes. 151 ubuntu theology- I can not be without you. 152- without different points of view, without different types of people we can't be the kind of church we are called to be.

justice: 165, a pastor wonders "how the church of Jesus could produce so many ministers willing to fall on their swords over issues of sexuality, but unwilling to notice the demonic gap between the rich and the poor."

Worship: 174: the idea is not to create anything but to simply invite people into a sense of openness and attentiveness akin to sitting on the dock not knowing if the bass will swim but ready for it if they do. You can use the material of everyday life (art, music, film) and assume it is an entryway into the sacred. teenagers and unchurched may love it.

Reflection: 185. Middle age creeps in and you realize4 one day the party will be over.

Beauty: "touching the divine. Page 208. why the Trinity, not one in two or one in eighteen, because one in Three is so elegant. 209, the teenager who believes in the Virgin birth because "it is so beautiful it has got to be true-whether it happened or not."

Church can transform lives. For example, 220, the man who spent his life dishonoring the living would now honor the dead (he goes into the funeral business), from taking advantage of others to serving others.

to go from wanderer to pilgrim, a woman has crosses traced over her body (225) creating healing touch.

228: Americans possess no stable identity. Nothing is inherited from the past, few family ties bind and all forms of personhood must be chosen and often chosen again.

231 all across the globe people think they find meaning through what they buy or aspire to buy.

234: the congregation is a place of transformation. and (241) should always be in state of change and transition.

247 people come to church not because of some marketing tool but of what we are doing.

251 do we open our doors and serve whoever enters in?

262 are we looking down at the poor or seeing them on equal standing?

271: when the church no longer has all the cultural power do we then get to explore what that means?

280: lent is a season that invites us to ponder those things that keep us feeling separate from God.

281: Transformation is the promise at the heart of Christian life.

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